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Avoid Cheap USB-C Cables – Or Risk Your Machine

avoid_cheap_usb-c_cables__119051_219294Everybody’s always looking for new ways to save money. A little here, a little there, and before you know it, you can realize significant savings. The problem with that approach, however, is that sometimes, the quest to save a few bucks can wind up being much more expensive in the long run.

Take, for example, the ubiquitous USB plug. There’s a new type of cable, called USB-C, which promises to be the next big thing in plug and play technology, allowing us to connect all our devices, from smart phones to monitors and any and everything else we can dream up going forward. The best part? Not only are these new cables reversible, they’re also backwards compatible and fast, allowing for massive amounts of data to be moved between two connected devices, very quickly.

All the big names in the tech industry are adopting the new standard, and several, including both Apple and Google, have already released new laptops that can take advantage of the new connection cable. There’s just one problem, and it’s a manufacturing one. If you buy low-end USB-C cables, they could easily destroy the equipment you connect them to, by drawing more power than the connected device can cope with, and essentially flash-frying it.

Well-constructed cables are designed with resistors that can sense when too much energy is traveling down the pipeline that the cable represents, preventing, or at least seriously mitigating the instances where an overload could occur. Those things are missing from low-end cables, and could lead to a very expensive problem, both in terms of ruined equipment and lost data.

At this point, there’s exactly one person who is personally vetting the various cables for sale on Amazon.com, and he goes by the username Leung. Leung is a Google engineer, and has been systematically testing every USB-C cable the company sells. If you don’t see a review from him on the cable you’re considering buying, give it a pass.

This is an awkward, clearly less than perfect solution, but until the industry can properly sort the issue out, this is your best bet, if you’re considering buying USB-C cables and taking advantage of all they have to offer.

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