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    Also, a bit of doubt always remains about whether your laptop is charging your phone, or your phone is charging your laptop😵

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      This unfortunately doesn’t cover current Thunderbolt 3 (and maybe soon to be USB 4.0) cables. They use the same USB-C connector but have their own range of capabilities and add their own confusion in the mix by not clearly identifying which cables support what.

      For Thunderbolt on MacOS, you get a “Cannot Use Thunderbolt Accessory” notification when you plug the device in if it’s not working properly but there’s no additional information on why it’s not working or any indication whether it’s due to a cabling issue or other hardware failure.

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        The whole situation is a total catastrophe.

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          The way I see it, there are two dimensions: connectors and capabilities. If we want to support each capability in each connector (both ends of the wire), we’ll need to support the whole 2-D space, obviously. Perhaps the naming could be improved, but I really don’t see any problems with the number of combinations out there. Unless people are okay with losing compatibility (physical/software), which everyone is okay with unless things break for them.

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          Maybe USB 4 will help clarify the issue: force all USB-4 cables to be Type C and limit the varieties to those with or without power delivery. Then you just have to make sure it’s a USB-4 cable, no more googling for "USB 3.1" "gen 2" "5 Amp"|"5A".

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          This describes the different compliant varieties but to make things yet more complicated it sounded like for some time there were a lot of manufacturers who were producing incorrectly-terminated cables. There was Benson Leung naming-and-shaming them for a while but I don’t know if that kind of scrutiny is necessary anymore. http://bensonapproved.com redirects and I can’t seem to access that site anymore.

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            For the record Benson Leung is the author of this very post.

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              I bought a cord he approved, it was a PoS. I think they got a bump from his endorsement and then cut quality to reap the profits. He’s only one person and he can’t continually test cables at his own expense, the USB licensors really need to implement some sort of QA process.

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              What I appreciate most of all is that nobody apparently thought about how to design USB-C plugs so they didn’t slide out.

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                Sweet baby Jesus why would you want that? Personally I’m annoyed at how difficult it is to pull out a USB-C compared to the (now) old-fashioned MagSafe. When it’s finally time to replace the wife’s old laptop with whatever’s current at the time, I fear for its life.

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                  I loved MagSafe connectors and thought them up years before Apple introduced them: magnets get rid of mechanical wear-and-tear while making it easier to plug in! I’m guessing they weren’t used in USB-3 because of the connector size and magnetic interference.

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                  It seems to me that they did. My regular phone charger slides out way too easily, but my laptop charger (when either plugged into my laptop, or my phone) is quite good at staying in until I try and pull it out.

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                    Have you checked your phone’s usb-c port and mauybe tried cleaning it with a toothpick? :)

                    Not sure this is intentional, but with my Nexus 5X the lint seems to set in such a way that the usb-c cable slides out with the slightest touch once enough has accumulated. The connection is never broken so you’d notice, just the mechanical “lock”.

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                    I’ve personally always experienced that issue more often with micro-A than I have with any of my devices with C.

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                      I’ve been so annoyed by this that I’m pondering whether USB-C cables can be used for electronics which don’t get a gentle treatment all of the time (badges, smaller electronic cards, …).

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                      If the host sees that the user is attempting to use DisplayPort Alternate Mode with the wrong cable, rather than a silent failure (ie, the external display doesn’t light up), the OS should tell the user via a notification they may be using the wrong cable, and educate the user about cables with the right logo.

                      Anyone know how this would actually work? Presumably, if the wires aren’t there, one end won’t know the other end is trying to send signal down them. Or is all the negotiation to setup alternate modes done over the 2.0 wire pair?

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                        I see “Uses the USB-C Power Delivery messaging protocol over the USB-C Configuration Channel (CC) to negotiate into and exit out of DisplayPort Alt Mode signaling.” in some slides for a webinar on the topic.

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                        Like, I don’t need the same damn connector for my mouse and for, say, the 85W charger for my computer! It’s just dumb! It’s all of us paying a cost in complexity and stupidity and frustration so consumer electronics companies don’t have to spend any money doing anything right.

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                          Urgh. I wanted to like USB-C. The whole point is that you’d just have one kind of cable for connecting consumer electronics to each other. This is pointless.

                          The USB spec also cannot simply mandate that all USB-C cables have the maximum number of wires all the time because that would vastly increase BOM cost for cases where the cable is just used for charging primarily.

                          Such a cable ought to be physically welded to the wall wart that it comes with, then.

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                            Then how could I use the same wall wart with an Arduino / iPhone / USB 3 device / mini drone / etc?

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                            i wonder if a colour code for cables can be added to the standard, similar to how the white/black/blue inserts in usb-a ports are used to tell apart different versions.

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                              I believe there are more than that, including Active cables (although these may not include C-to-C, I’m not sure), judging by the table above the linked header here.

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                                And alt-mode adapters/cables. I had a MacBook Pro 2016 that I wanted to hook up with a DisplayPort screen. Since the Apple USB-C to HDMI adapter (which used to be ~80 Euro) does not support 4k@60Hz (only 30Hz), I bought a USB-C DisplayPort Alternate mode adapter. Worked great on the MacBook Pro 2016, I drove my external 4k screen for about 1.5 years in that way.

                                Then I upgraded to a MacBook Pro 2018 and the adapter does not do anything at all, there is simply no signal. I now have the same adapter on my 2019 NUC running NixOS and it works without any issues. Why it doesn’t work with my MacBook Pro 2018 is a mystery to me. I ordered yet another adapter and it works.

                                Another tire fire: some series of the initial Apple USB-C to multiport adapters (both VGA and HDMI) had an USB 2.0 hub. So, you have a laptop with USB 3.1, but you can only use the bandwidth of USB 2.0 with the adapter.

                                USB-C is a mess and a money sink.

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                                This alone has me avoiding USB-C in spite of some early adoption. The mystery meat nature (as in those markings wear off, etc) isn’t usable day to day running around plugging things in. I treat USB C like USB micro and just chain a hub off my macbook pro. Sad but there’s no easy option until someone goes with color coding (not accessible) or realizes that maybe USB-C, by doing everything, does too little in practice.

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                                  It’s called Universal Serial Bus and is supposed to provide a universal standard for connectivity. But, you are telling me that not only are the different types not compatible with each other, but the same type is not compatible with itself? God, do we suck at naming things?