Recently, I hailed the advent of the USB-C standard, which promises all kinds of new capabilities for mobile gadgets, and even larger devices. If your device survives, that is. Because posters elsewhere have been putting up warnings that, unlike the older USB standards, USB-C carries the risk of bricking your device if you use cheap or sub-standard cabling to link it to an old-style USB socket.
As Chris Meadows previously noted, Benson Leung, a software engineer with Google, has been using the Amazon review system as a campaign platform to highlight problems with new USB-C cables coming on to the market as the standard gets wider adoption. This isn’t a worry if the cable has USB Type-C connectors at both ends, but if one end is made to link to an older Type-A socket, then there could be concerns. The issue is that the old style Type A socket was not originally designed for the 3-amp power levels of the Type-C standard, or the power regulation that the new standard enables.
Benson Leung goes through one cable and connector after another, exhaustively cataloging their merits and drawbacks. You can get an idea of just how exhaustively from one of his more positive reviews, here. Another public spirit has posted all his reviews and ratings so far on a detailed spreadsheet here, on Reddit.
One of Benson’s more damning 1-star reviews concludes: “This adapter is a type forbidden by the USB Type-C specification, and should NOT exist. It gets my lowest rating of 1-star because there is no simple thing that the manufacturer can do to make this adapter correct. As a consumer, DO NOT buy this cable.”
For anyone used to the older, more forgiving USB standards, that may sound a little strident. But a brand new USB Type-C compliant bricked device is not something you want to have. The Otium USB Type-C to Micro USB adapter above is fully compliant, but an awful lot of other connectors aren’t. So shop wisely and consult Benson before you buy.