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    This is exactly what I was thinking when more and more stuff was pushed into the USB-C stack.

    Previously it was kinda easy to explain that “no, you can’t put the USB cable in the HDMI slot, that won’t work”. Now you have cables that look identical, but one can charge with 90W and the other can’t, even though both fit. It’s going to be confusing for everyone having to be careful with the which cable can be plugged into where.

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      Everything about the official naming/branding used in USB 3 onward seems purposely designed to be confusing.

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        It seems like for some reason the overriding priority was making the physical connector the same, but it’s fine to run all kinds of incompatible power and signals through it. I preferred the old way of giving different signals different connectors so you knew what was going on!

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          The downside to that is I guess that each different type of device that you would want to be able to connect to a small form factor device such as a phone or a slim laptop would need to have with every type of connector that you might want, or alternatively you would need dongles left and right.

          I can now charge my phone with my laptop charger, that has not been the case in previous generations.

          I believe we are moving into POE-enabled network cable territory on some conceptual level; data+power (either optional) is the level of abstraction that the connector is made common on.

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            I’m surprised the business laptop manufacturers haven’t tried getting into PoE based chargers, considering most offices have not just Ethernet, but PoE, and it’d solve two cables at once.

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              I think (a hunch more than data-backed) that the last meters of networking is increasingly moving towards wireless, at least if the end-user equipment is a laptop. Monitors on the other hand are still cable-connected, and that is one of the singled-out use-cases for usb-c now that we have it.

              Looking back at before usb-c, then I’d agree power and networking would be a neat thing to combine, but it would have to have a different connector than regular ethernet, those plastic tab spring lock things would not last long.

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                I mean, I would like an Ethernet AAM for Type C…

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                I’d love to know what you’re basing this thesis on because as far as I know I’ve never worked in a German office with PoE in the last 20 years. (Actually it was a big deal in my last company because we had PoE-powered devices, so there was kind of a “where and in which room do we put PoE switches for the specialty hardware”)

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                  Most offices nowadays have PoE if only for deskphones.

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              It’s fine if you have a manufacturer that you can trust to make devices that work with everything (USB, DP, TB, PD, etc.) the cable can throw at it. (Like, my laptop will do anything a Type C cable can do, so there’s no confusion.) The problem is once you get less scrupulous manufacturers of the JKDSUYU variety on Amazon et al, the plan blows up spectaularly.

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              When the industry uses a bunch of mutually-incompatible connectors for different types of cables, tech sites complain “Ugh, why do I need all these different types of cables! It’s purposely designed to be overcomplex and confusing!”

              When the industry settles on one connector for all cable types, tech sites complain “Ugh, how am I supposed to tell which cables do which things! It’s purposely designed to be overcomplex and confusing!”

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                Having the same connector but incompatible cable is much worse than the alternative.

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                  The alternative is that every use case develops its own incompatible connector to distinguish its particular power/data rates and feature set. At which point you need either a dozen ports on every device, or a dozen dongles to connect them all to each other.

                  This is why there have already been well-intentioned-but-bad-idea-in-practice laws trying to force standardization onto particular industries (like mobile phones). And the cost of standardization is that not every cable which has the connector will have every feature of every other cable that currently or might in the future exist.

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                  They could’ve avoided this by either making it obvious when one cable or connector doesn’t support the full set or simply disallowing any non full-featured cables and connectors. Have fun buying laptops and PCs while figuring out how many of their only 3 USB-C connections are actually able to handle what you need, which of them you can use in parallel for stuff you want to use in parallel and which of them is the only port that can actually do everything but is also reserved for charging your laptop. It’s a god damn nightmare and makes many laptops unusable outside some hipster coffee machine.

                  Meanwhile I’m going to buy something that has a visible HDMI, DP, LAN and USB-A connector, so I’m not stranded with either charging, mouse connection, external display or connecting my USB3 drive. It’s enraging.

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                    or simply disallowing any non full-featured cables and connectors

                    OK, now we’re back on the treadmill, because the instant someone works out a way to do a cable that can push more power or data through, we need a new connector to distinguish from already-manufactured cables which will no longer be “full-featured”. And now we’re back to everything having different and incompatible connectors so that you either need a dozen cables or a dozen dongles to do things.

                    Or we have to declare an absolute end to any improvements in cable features, so that a cable manufactured today will still be “full-featured” ten years from now.

                    There is no third option here that magically lets us have the convenience of a universal connector and always knowing the cable’s full capabilities just from a glance at the connector shape, and ongoing improvements in power and data transmission. In fact for some combinations it likely isn’t possible to have even two of those simultaneously.

                    It’s a god damn nightmare and makes many laptops unusable outside some hipster coffee machine.

                    Ah yes, it is an absolute verifiable objective fact that laptops with USB-C ports are completely unsuitable and unusable by any person, for any use case, under any circumstance, in any logically-possible universe, ever, absolutely and without exception.

                    Which was news to me as I write this on such a laptop. Good to know I’m just some sort of “hipster coffee” person you can gratuitously insult when you find you’re lacking in arguments worthy of the name.

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                      Ah yes, it is an absolute verifiable objective fact that laptops with USB-C ports are completely unsuitable and unusable by any person, for any use case, under any circumstance, in any logically-possible universe, ever, absolutely and without exception.

                      You really do want to make this about yourself, don’t you ? I never said you’re not allowed to have fun with them, I just say that for many purposes those machines are pretty bad. And there are far too many systems produced now with said specs, that its becoming a problem for people with a different use case than the one you have. With more connections, less dongles or hubs and with the requirement that you know about the specific capabilities before buying it: Have fun explaining your family why model X doesn’t actually do what they thought, because their USB-C is just a USB 2.0. Why their USB-C cable doesn’t work - even though it looks the same, why there are multiple versions of the same connector with different specs, why one port of USB-C doesn’t mean it can do everything the port right beside it can do. Why there is no way to figure out if the USB-C cable is actually able to handle a 4k60 display before trying it out. Even for 1000+€ models that you might want to use with an external display, mouse, keyboard, headset,charging and some yubikey you get 3 USB-C connections these days. USB-C could’ve been something great, but now it’s a RNG for what you actually get. And some colored cables and requirements towards labeling the capabilities would have already helped a lot.

                      Yes I’m sorry for calling it hipster in my rage against the reality of USB-C, let’s call it “people who do not need many connections (2+ in real models) / like dongles or hubs / do everything wireless”. Which is someone commuting by train, going to lectures or whatnot. But not me when I’m at home or at work.

                      This is where I’m gonna mute this thread, you do not seem to want a relevant conversation.

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                Yeah, I was thinking this too. Though even then we were already starting to get into it with HDMI versions.

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                Also note that the Nintendo Switch has its own take on USB-C.

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                  I’d love it if there was a device I could plug my existing USB C cables into and have it spit out what protocols they support. I’ve generally gone by the thickness of the cable to indicate whether something supported USB 3 data speeds, but I’ve found it impossible to tell whether a cable supports 10 or 20 Gbps.

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                    Maybe some software that detects cable type when you plug two laptops to each other?

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                    Beware: new cables incoming, this time high voltage ones with USB-PD EPR (extended power range) specification, allowing for charging voltages up to 48V, with the old 5A cables being deprecated. Great fun! I suggest adding a third stripe for those. Also, USB4 Gen3 cables(Yes, USB4 has more generations, with Gen2 being possible using USB3.2 Gen1 and Gen2 cables, I assume with less lanes in USB3.2 Gen1 case) have a new specification, and I’m not sure if Thunderbolt 3 cables match it, so beware of that. Thunderbolt 4 might require better cables yet! Fun fun fun!

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                      Not to be confused with the existing semi-standard colors for UBS type A sockets: https://juicedsystems.com/blogs/news/know-your-usb-a-practical-guide-to-the-universal-serial-bus#6

                      USB C is indeed a terrible mess of incompatible cables. But at least cable manufacturers usually print something on the housing like “SS 10” to indicate the cable’s capability. The HDMI cables I have are all unmarked with no way to tell HDMI 1 from HDMI 2 from HDMI 2.1. This used to not matter but now that 4K is a common thing it’s a real problem.

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                        Hang on is my 4k xbox and my 4k TV not agreeing on a format because of cabling and i haven’t noticed it because i assumed “oh same cable endings we are good”? 😫

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                          Your cable needs to be capable of passing the higher data rate without crosstalk or other interference degrading the signal.

                          It’s like the difference between Cat5 & Cat6 cable. Same plugs, different minimum spec cable quality.

                          I bought a Roku device a few years ago & the HDMI cable it came with was so awful it couldn’t even manage to sync 1080P with the TV it was plugged into. New replacement cable & everything worked fine…

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                            It’s a bandwidth problem. Try a new cable rated for HDMI 2.1. Fixed my PS5 problem.

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                          Not sure why he calls out Apple specifically.

                          Apple has exactly 1 type of USB-C cable that they sell, so if you have an Apple USB-C cable then it’s that one.

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                            That’s not true.

                            https://www.apple.com/shop/mac/accessories/power-cables shows two lengths of “USB-C Charge Cable” both for $20, a “Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Cable” for $40, and a “Thunderbolt 3 Pro Cable” for $130. In addition to the Apple-brnaded cables, they sell a Belkin TB3 cable, a Belkin USB-C charge cable, and an “Only at Apple” Mophie USB-C cable.

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                              And the thunderbolt one is branded (with the thunderbolt logo) https://www.apple.com/shop/product/MQ4H2AM/A/thunderbolt-3-usb%E2%80%91c-cable-08-m

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                            I love it. Maybe I should get some tape in these various colors/patterns and build a small cable testing device…

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                              Why would you encode the cable specs using colors and lines when you can just list the max speed and wattage on the cable head? Color coding is also problematic due to ~5% of the population being color blind.

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                                The colours were picked from a palette designed to be accessible to people with various colour blindnesses.

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                                These companies are taking the piss. This is the exact opposite of what we were sold as USB back in the day.

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                                  Everything about USB is an unmitigated catastrophe. I think I might hate it more than Bluetooth.