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Cable Frustration! Making Sense of USB-C

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The introduction of USB-C was to supposed to make our lives easier, but for most of us, it’s more confusing than ever, especially when it comes to cables.  Make no mistake .. USB-C is the way forward, with its superior speed, power and reversible plug design. Goes in first time, every time. It’s just frustrating that its specs are mostly a mystery when you pull out a cable from your drawer or laptop bag.

Belkin’s latest cables are clearly marked

And that comes down to the lack of labelling on cables. So if you want to avoid confusion, just get the best cables you can buy, as they will not only perform well when it comes to power and data, they will also come with the version printed on the plug.

When it comes to USB-C (which is the shape of the connector) it’s the protocol or specs that go through the cable that matter. For example, USB 3.0 indicates the capabilities, the speed and power etc, while the ‘C’ means the connector shape.

Choose your USB-C cables wisely

Even the USB-IF (USB USB Implementers Forum) recognises the naming issue on its website:

“USB-IF emphasises the importance and value of consistent messaging on USB product packaging, marketing materials, and advertising. Inconsistent use of terminology creates confusion in the marketplace, can be misleading to consumers, and potentially diminishes USB-IF’s trademark rights.

USB-IF strongly discourages its members and the industry at-large from using specification names/terminology in consumer-facing branding, packaging, advertisements, and other marketing materials.”

USB-IF COMPLIANCE PAGE

USB4 marked cables are a good choice

So the best thing to do is get a cable like the ones I show in the video above. A USB-C/Thunderbolt 4 or USB4. They will do pretty much everything you need. Yes, it may be overkill for most uses – like charging a phone – but for now, they should the only cables you’ll need.

USB-C is far superior to USB-A

One thing you should move on from is – USB-A to USB-C. You’ll never get the performance you can can get from USB-C to USB-C.

Thunderbolt 5 is coming on USB-C cables

More cables are coming with labels so my advice is to update as soon as you can. Fortunately, the industry knows it needs to do better when it comes to labelling and explaining the products.  So cable buying should be a lot clearer.

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