Monday, November 26, 2012

Powerless USB Cables

I've had a few issues with cables then and again, but this weekend I found myself getting to the bottom of an annoying issue I was suspecting.

Having to do a lot of reviews on my portuguese website "Aberto até de Madrugada" I usually prefer to use my own charger and micro USB cables to charge most devices - that way I won't have to deal with "which cable belongs to which box".

However, this past week I had a lot of devices coming in, and I had to use some "new" micro USB cable from the "cable drawer" that I had barely used before.

After leaving a smartphone and a tablet charging for a while, I noticed something odd... They were exactly at the same battery level they were in the first place! They were not charging at all!

At first I suspected it might be the power supply (although its rated at 2Amps)... but after a few experiments - and to cut a long story short - the problem was the cheap micro USB cables I was using!

To be absolutely sure, I even tried a Apple micro-USB adapter on those to try and charge an iPhone - and it  immediately complained "charging not supported on this device". Just by replacing the cable, everything charged as it should.

I didn't get to splice up the cables, but I suspect that if I do I'll find hair-thin conductor cables inside - with lots of plastic surrounding it, to make it appear "high-quality". And some friend have also reported that in some cases they noticed other cheap low cost USB cables getting really hot when trying to charge devices... which might become a real fire hazard in case they melt and/or short out.

So... next time you're considering buying those sub-$1 USB cables, you better think twice and see if it really worth the risk!

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