Amazon Bans Bad USB Type-C Cables

Everyone knows about USB cables. Used for everything from transferring important information from one device to another to charging your devices, they are seen everywhere and the USB Type-C Cables are no exception. Some people were put off when a google engineer fried his Chromebook using a bad cable from Amazon, a move which has now made Amazon ban bad USB Type-C Cables from its site.

USB Type-C (also known as USB-C) is loved for many reasons, from their lack of orientation, no more finding if you’ve put the cable in the wrong way round on the third or fourth time, to the fact that both ends are identical, meaning that there is no right and wrong end, there is only the right ends!

USB-C are also twice as fast as USB 3.0, a standard that barely took off before people noticed USB-C’s popularity. With speeds of up to 10Gbps and the ability to output up to 20V(100W), the USB-C is quickly gaining favor to replace the variety of USB connections that came before it. Sadly with the recent interest in the connector, some people have taken to selling some not so great copies. Listed under their prohibited electronic listings, Amazon now ban any USB-C cable that can be described as:

Any USB-C (or USB Type-C) cable or adapter product that is not compliant with standard specifications issued by “USB Implementers Forum Inc.”

With the ability to report and have bad cables removed from the site, hopefully, fewer people will have to lose their precious devices to cut price and bad quality products.

The True Cost of Using USB-C Cables

Remember the story of a Google engineer who declared war on USB-C cables that failed to meet specifications? His continuing battle took a turn so grim even he was surprised at how dangerous it had become. Back in November, Benson Leung, who works on Google’s Pixel range of computers – one of the first systems to support USB-C – found that many cheap cable available on sale failed to meet the official 1.1 specifications, and so began reviewing every cable he could get his hands on from Amazon.

Leung’s mission, though, has met an abrupt end. Not because he has reviewed every USB-C cable available, but because the last one he bought and tested destroyed his computer, as well as the two USB PD sniffers he was using for testing. He bought a Surjtech 3M USB A-to-C cable (now removed from sale) and plugged one end into his Chromebook Pixel and the other into the sniffer. The sniffer failed immediately, and the Pixel soon followed.

On 1st February, Lueng posted the following product review of the offending cable to Amazon:

“Hi Benson here doing another USB Type-C legacy cable review. This one will probably be the last one I do for a little while because this cable (1-star review score, straight off) seriously damaged the laptop computer I am using for these reviews, a Chromebook Pixel 2015, and two USB PD Sniffer devices (Twinkie).

I plugged this cable into the twinkie (as a pass through) and my Chromebook Pixel 2015 and the A end into a 1st party Apple 12W iPad charger.

Twinkie’s current and voltage measurement command (tw vbus) failed immediately after plugging this cable with the adapter into it. This is permanent damage. I tried resetting the Twinkie analyzer and having the firmware reflashed, but it continues to exhibit this failure. It is no longer able to use its voltage and current measurement capability on the Vbus line.

On my Pixel, both USB Type-C ports stopped responding immediately. Neither would charge or act as a host when I plugged in a USB device such as an ethernet adapter. Upon rebooting my Pixel, the system came up in recovery mode because it could not verify the Embedded Controller on the system. No amount of software recovery could revive the EC. Upon closer analysis, serious damage has been done to components related to charging and managing the USB Type-C port’s capabilities.

I directly analyzed the Surjtech cable using a Type-C breakout board and a multimeter, and it appears that they completely miswired the cable. The GND pin on the Type-A plug is tied to the Vbus pins on the Type-C plug. The Vbus pin on the Type-A plug is tied to GND on the Type-C plug.

This is a total recipie [sic] for disaster and I have 3 pieces of electronics dead to show for it, my Pixel 2015, and two USB PD analyzers.

Needless to say, this cable is fundamentally dangerous. Do not buy this under any circumstances. I will be contacting Surjtech directly shortly.”

Remember, kids: if you’re buying a new USB-C cable, always check to see if Leung has reviewed it. It could save your devices from being fried.

Image courtesy of MacWorld.

Asus Reveal Monitor Running Just On A USB-C Cable

Hands up if you have ever used multiple screens on your computer? Some people use it to watch a movie while they browse the internet, some have several screens to display a virtual world in panoramic view. Whatever you use multiple screens for there has always been a problem with setting them up, the connections. Does your graphics card have an HDMI port free or does your laptop have that VGA port? The end result was the creation of single cable screens. Connect a screen to your device with only a single cable, designed to run both the power and the data needed through it. Asus have announced the latest in single cable monitors, one using the new USB type C connection.

Titled as the MB169C+ portable display, the device features a 15.6-inch screen with 1080p resolution. The idea of taking a stack of screens out of a bag and connecting them to any computer or laptop of your choice is quite pleasing especially with them only weighing 800 grams a piece.

With ASUS confident that regardless of platform, the screen will connect and function as intended you could soon connect the same screen to your phone or laptop on the go and then hook it up for a dedicated screen for your emails when you get home. With no set price yet or release date, we can only wait to hear more.

LaCie Announced Porsche Design Mobile Drive with USB-C Connector

Apple just announced their new MacBook and there is a lot of talk about the USB-C technology. Android smartphones will also feature the connector soon and Asus has already presented their full lineup of device. But a connector isn’t enough, we also need to attach something to it. For that, LaCie announced the addition of USB-C technology to its Porsche Design Mobile Drive that is available up to 2TB capacity.

For those who don’t know it, LaCie is the premium brand of Seagate and they make some truly beautiful drives for those who want something special. The Porsche Design Mobile Drive has been specially designed with its aluminium finish to match the MacBooks, but it will of course work with any system. It supports Time Machine backups and transfer speeds up to 100 MB/s.

The user-friendly USB-C connector makes it easier than ever to connect these new drives, we all know the three-turn USB connection move. For compatibility, the LaCie drive also comes with an included adapter for USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 ports.

The LaCie Mobile Drive enclosure is made from 3 mm thick solid aluminum and the drive comes backed by a two-year warranty. Availability is set for next quarter with a 500GB slim size model as well as 1TB and 2TB models. No word on pricing yet.

Thanks to LaCie for providing us with this information