The fact that my laptop, Switch, iPad, and several other devices can all share a charge has made my life much easier. I can just sprinkle a few of them throughout the house and never be without power. Before it was always a hunt to find a cable, or I had to be in [x] room to charge [y] device because that's where the charger lived.
Plus, I can charge my MacBook on either side, so that's basically life changing on its own. :)
All my apple kit works fine off the Apple chargers, but I do have an external hard drive that has mixed Thunderbolt 3/USB 3.1 ports, which are absolutely not the same.
I love the port, but the standard just hasn't caught up and when a company like Nintendo flouts it anyway, you have a big problem.
I was trying to find some information about what would cause PD-compliant chargers to fry the Switch. It appears that while the switch is PD-compliant itself, they used a slightly non-standard connector that reduces tolerances and could, in some situations (most likely worn cables) cause some pins to electrically bridge and fry the port.
To be honest, this doesn't seem like an issue with USB C, just Nintendo intentionally implementing it wrong. They should have either used a proprietary port for the docking mechanism rather than modifying USB C in an unsafe way then saying only to use their proprietary charger.
Now, I'm a cheapskate, so most of my electronics are older devices, and as a consequence we still also have various other cables kicking around— Lightning for both our iPhones and wireless earbuds, Micro USB for Kindle and PS4 controllers, even Mini USB for a few random devices.
But as far as USB-C, I would attribute the current mess to growing pains. For a few more years, charger pages will explicit list the products they work with, and eventually it will settle down to a list of must-work-with products for all chargers, and any new products with be tested to ensure that they work in the same ways as one or more of the items on that list of known-working products. Didn't HDMI have pretty much this exact issue with EDID and other chaos, until everyone basically agreed that whatever Sony was doing was the right thing and they'd copy them?
The main losers here are people trying to do new ground-up implementations, since they can't just work from the standard; they also need expensive consultants to tell them the precise subset of the standard is the actual part they can depend on. But for end users, the trend is toward an overall state of reasonable compatibility, with non-working devices quickly acquiring a reputation as such and being shunned out of the marketplace.
The Switch and Switch Dock are not USB-C devices. That you’re able to plug in a USB-C charger or USB-C device and see it supposedly work just means that you haven’t yet encountered the scenario(s) that can electronically damage the Switch. Nintendo’s warranty does not cover this damage when it occurs, requiring a full-cost repair or replacement as you connected unlicensed and unauthorized hardware to it.
The docks that do work generally reversed-engineered the proprietary protocol, and some have damaged Switches because they got details wrong.
Of course, had they used the native HDMI side-channel (which I’m not sure had been finalized at the time), they would have been able to skip this step.
I do think there's still the matter of "Not all USB-PD adapters provide the specific electrical demands of a Switch or Switch Dock" to contend with — and that does tie back to the original article's point about USB-C being kind of a nightmare.
EDIT: There are still reports of someone frying a Switch with an Apple USB-C power adapter (which is USB-C compliant), no dock or anything involved. Whatever else does or doesn't work, Nintendo won't cover damage under warranty if you used a third-party charger.
It is very annoying.
USB-PD is in a twilight zone where it can deliver enough power to cause safety risks but, due to its low voltage, is not subject to the level of regulatory scrutiny that other electrical products receive.
To date, the USB-IF's approach to safety and interoperability does not adequately protect consumers. USB-PD devices should not be incompatible to the point of damage but USB-IF has been unable to ensure this by keeping non-compliant products off the market.
USB-PD needs to be pulled under the IEC, NRTL (US) and CE (EU) regulatory systems and compliance overseen by entities with the legal authority to deter legitimate manufacturers/importers from selling non-compliant products.
"You can plug it in, but it might catch fire" just isn't good enough for a power delivery system that can provide 100W.
It might help resolve certain really common cases like compatibility between the chargers and devices of the mainstream entities. I guess I'd argue that that should be happening on its own, but Nintendo definitely dropped the ball with releasing a USB-C product in 2017 that was interoperable with Apple and other name-brand chargers which had been in existence for two years previously at that point.
In this particular case I think even well-known name brand chargers which follow standards (Apple, Anker) are breaking the Nintendo, and that's unacceptable.
Nintendo should have taken more steps with their charger to restrict the Switch to authorized chargers only, rather than permitting unsupported chargers (such as standard USB-C ones) from being able to power it. Or even just outright used a proprietary connector!
None of this is any fault of the chargers. They’re the ones adhering to the standards correctly. The Switch is at fault.
Their website says that it uses USB-C for charging and the charging port accepts stock USB-C cables, it's not even remotely reasonable to bury within the warranty a statement which says "oh, by the way the device cannot accept USB-C cables -- if you use a made-to-spec cable that fits in the port, no warranty for you!".
If you shove 9V into a 5V device, bad things will happen, regardless of Nintendo is anti-standard or not
They put USB-C on the box. They screwed up the design. They should be forced to have a recall, or extend the warranty.
Imagine you go to a hotel and see an USB A port on the wall and you try to charge your phone, then your phone starts to smoke or simply ignites. You find later that port was not a standard USB A port, but a 220 volt plug for something custom. Should the hotel be responsible for that? I think it should. If it looks like a duck ...
It would have been better if they'd launched another dozen different plug standards. In situations when there's only one thing you should be connecting to your device, that's the way to go. Universal sockets only make sense if they're actually universal.
Nothing above seems related to the standard. At the end of the day, its still comes down to the manufacturers to follow the standard in order for everything to to work. But the standard itself can't stop any particular manufacturer from making a non-compliant product.
Edit: A poster below this question said they fried their Switch by using their Macbook charger so I may have been naively optimistic in my original statement.
Sadly, the legal burden is placed exclusively on the buyer (via electrical code).
The outlet plugs specify the circuit breaker limit. Most consumer electronics in the US use a 15amp plug, which can be plugged into a 15amp outlet or a 20amp outlet — but no higher, due to physical incompatibilities in the outlet design.
The electronics that use the 15amp or 20amp plugs are therefore built not only to draw no more than the amps rated by their plugs, but also to self-destruct relatively safely if they draw the maximum amps available from the circuit breaker backing that plug.
So if a cheap device correctly assumes as part of its "don't explode" protections that it will never receive more than 20amps due to using a 15-or-20 amp plug, and then it short circuits while plugged into a 25 amp circuit using an adapter, it could very well explode, because the basic guarantees of electrical safety were violated. The plug used guaranteed it would never receive more than 20amp, and now it's receiving 25!
This is especially relevant when you're considering how to make use of an idle 30A dryer outlet in a garage. If you just plug an adapter into it, and your device short circuits, it will explode even more violently. Risk of harm increases with outlet power.
There exist fancy "breaker box" adapters that have a 30A plug on one side, a fuse box with a 15A or 20A fuse in the middle, and a 15A outlet on the other side for you to use. It's not really an adapter at that point, but the presence of that 15A/20A fuse provides the missing piece of protection for your 15A/20A device that a plain adapter wouldn't have.
So in summary, the only way to safely use a 15amp device on an outlet that delivers power higher than 15-20A is to somehow inline a 15-20A breaker between the device and the outlet (or, to rewire the outlet and its power feed to 15-20A).
TL;DR: Hire a licensed electrician to tell you what your options are and decide how much you care to spend and whether you want to make permanent modifications to get the job done.
Most lamp cords are only sized 100ish Watts or ~ 1A with the bulb being the only fuse. If these somehow pulled 15A for any amount of time the wire would quickly get smoking hot but you still plug them into a 15A plug.
Devices are supposed to protect themselves. Most 15A devices will cause fires if they actually pull 15A for any amount of time. If you try to use a a small extension cord on your space heater, you will soon be smelling burnt plastic while never getting over 15A draw. That is part of why these are such a fire hazard.
Alos in the US a 20A socket is designed to allow a 15A plug to work in it, But not the opposite way as that would cause issues in the wall.
The actual range was a bit different by Ampage which I never quite understood.
No safety margin can account for purposeful circumvention, which is what connecting a 15/20A outlet to a 30A circuit is.
I didn't say any difference was unacceptable, but a significant difference for 20/25 should not be accepted.
If the danger gets gradually worse for every 5 amps on the fuse, that's fine. Then the excess danger at 25 or 30 amps is only a tiny fraction of the excess danger at 100 amps. Good work.
If the danger has a sudden sharp increase at a certain amperage, then that amperage threshold needs to be further away than a mere 20/25 difference. Or even 20/30.
The reverse of this is plugging big loads like power tools or vacuum cleaners into extension cords intended for use with desk lamps, but I think most people understand that that's a bad idea.
Generally, where there's a 30A circuit, a 15A circuit is also available, but there are exceptions. You may have wired a RV hookup with only a 30A receptacle, but you want to run some lights, or tools or ? with a 15A plug from that on a temporary basis. The circuit is (presumably) good for 30A, so adapting to a lower amp receptacle is reasonable --- it won't hurt anything to draw fewer amps through the circuit.
Adapting from a 15A socket to a 30A socket can be dangerous; the 15A or 20A breaker or fuse on the circuit won't immediately open with a 30A draw, and the wiring will heat up during the time it takes for the circuit protection to open; possibly long enough to cause a fire. Of course, just because a load has a 30A plug doesn't mean it draws 30A all the time, there are conditions where using such an adapter is safe, but it requires knowledge of the load.
 US NEC code allows for a 20A breaker on circuits served by 15A receptacle, as long as there is more than one receptacle
Why? Why was it so hard for them to implement USB-C the proper way? Why were they allowed (and why did they want) to use patented USB-C plugs if they didn't want to actually implement USB-C? The only explanation I can come up with is they intended to earn money from repairing.
If it is true that third party charging devices is fine, then that is great news.
I'm pretty sure that's the dock that has a slightly nonstandard plug, not the switch itself.
The purpose of universal is everything works with everything. whoever breaks that is at fault and should pay the price. If Nintendo has used some other port I wouldn't have the expectation, but they used a universal port so they need to be compatible.
It’ll probably be fixed in future generations but Nintendo decided not to make design changes for Gen 1 and Gen 2 Switch to fully comply with USB-C PD specs.
Do you also think that the Raspberry Pi 4 USB-C incompatibility is intentional? That came out waaay later
I know the switch gets the spec wrong in a few places, but there is only one thing I have heard about that causes damage, and that is knockoff chargers that grossly overvolt the data pin used for power negotiation.
Else we wouldn't be in a situation where most (all?) Laptop USB-C PD chargers work without problems with the switch.
I was not pleased with it being an outside warranty issue, but I paid up just to get the thing fixed and back.
Either way, it would have nothing to do with “the mess that is USB-C” (i.e. the inability to identify which of the various wire protocols that work over USB-C cables that a USB-C port follows/supports), because such a port isn’t following any of the USB-C-cable compatible standards.
It’d be like saying Nintendo hurt the mini-DVD format when they used non-compatible mini-DVDs in the GameCube. Those discs have nothing to do with the mini-DVD standard; they just happen to share a physical substrate and so a physical appearance. They’re not claiming to be mini-DVDs.
And nor does Nintendo claim the Switch’s charging port to be a USB-C port. In all the docs, it specifically says that it’s just a port for the Dock or the Switch AC charger to plug into. It just happens to share a form-factor.
Do you remember the days when every connector looked like a DB9 connector with only some of the pins populated? (E.g. the various game-controller ports on the Atari, Commodore, Amiga, etc.) Or later, when every connector looked like a PS/2 port, with only some of the pins populated (e.g. Apple Desktop Bus)? None of these were claiming to be the same type of cable or jack or socket. None of them were claiming cross-compatibility. They all just happened to share the same physical connector—because it was a cheap and plentiful, easy-to-source part to build your own proprietary cables and jacks and sockets in terms of.
Heck, do you know how many random different types of cables are terminated with TRS or RCA connectors? Would you blame your hairdryer for “destroying the audio ecosystem” because its wall-charger is terminated in an RCA jack, and you could theoretically plug said RCA jack into an iPod (probably frying it in the process)?
The outlier in all this isn’t USB-C, but rather the previous USB physical-connector standards. Pretty much nobody used those for anything other than USB devices. Probably because the connectors were 1. expensive as parts, and therefore not really worth using in your own project unless you specifically were trying to be a part of the USB ecosystem; and 2. weren’t designed to be physically capable of meeting the current-draw requirements that proprietary cabling standards would want to place on them.
In being both cheap and capable of high current delivery, USB-C connectors are just bringing us back from the temporary reprieve of USB-A/B, to the world of the 100 years before that, where a physical connector tells you nothing about what type of cable you’ve got, because every fly-by-night company uses any random connector for whatever they like.
You know how USB jacks and sockets had the USB icon on them? That was because the USB Consortium assumed people would do random things with the USB connector standard; and so the icon was meant to distinguish the USB connector as applied to a USB use-case. It never really became relevant in USB-A/B, but it’s actually relevant now in USB-C. That icon is what tells; not the shape of the socket.
Somehow, I got through that time without ever having plugged the power into the microphone socket. I am not that careful.
But if you have a standard aren't you supposed to enforce stuff like this ? Precisely to avoid the confusion and protect your standard.
The Nintendo charging port is not labelled with a USB logo. It’s fundamentally not a USB-C port. It doesn’t make any claim to obey any standard. The USB Consortium was not involved; nor do they have a legal right to get involved, if Nintendo has no interest in putting that USB logo on their product.
Interestingly (to me), this seems to be a central point in Nintendo’s business model: they don’t do licensing fees, if they can at-all help it. They’re willing to break compatibility with some standard, if that’s what it takes to avoid having to pay someone a fee for every unit sold. That’s not exactly why the GameCube’s discs aren’t mini-DVDs (that’s more a DRM thing); but it is why none of their peripherals so far have had a Bluetooth logo on them, despite being in essence Bluetooth peripherals (but ones that sit in a separate Bluetooth “namespace” such that you need a customized Bluetooth driver to talk to them; presumably because putting those devices into the regular Bluetooth namespace would involve doing something that infringes on the Bluetooth Special Interest Group’s IP.) It’s also, way back when, why Nintendo dropped the deal with Sony to make the Nintendo PlayStation — they didn’t want to have to pay the licensing fees for printing CD-ROMs!
What the port isn't, is a USB certified port. USB certification guarantees that it'll be safe to plug any USB-certified thing into any other USB-certified thing. Without that certification, the device isn't guaranteeing its ability to handle weird things that other USB devices might do—like sending it lots of current without doing a specific proprietary negotiation first.
It's a bit like FCC certification for "accepting radio interference." Devices that have it, are guaranteed to not melt down/throw sparks if you bring them close to e.g. HV power lines, or a radio tower. Devices that don't have it, aren't guaranteed to not do that. They might or they might not; but they weren't required to be tested to find out if they would.
But unlike FCC certification, where it's illegal to sell something in the US containing an antenna if it's not FCC certified, it's entirely legal to produce and market a device that has USB connectors, but isn't USB certified. There's nothing stopping companies from doing it—other than the expectation that consumers might care about the USB logo being on the product. If a company thinks consumers won't care about that in their case, they have no reason to bother.
(That's not to say Nintendo shouldn't have made their product fail safe under out-of-tolerance conditions from other USB devices anyway. It would just be good engineering to do that, even if you don't want to pay the licensing fee. But they didn't think to test for those conditions—likely because the USB Consortium wasn't invited to come breathe down their necks reminding them about things like that.)
Compliance enforcement didn't matter much when USB was just data and low-wattage electricity, but USB-PD provides enough power to be hazardous. That risk is not currently being effectively managed.
"Buyer beware" isn't an adequate solution to avoiding device damage or cables catching fire.
I do think there's something to be said for liability for creating a port that is so similar to USB-C, but also causing damage, akin to copyright laws, based on consumer confusion. I.e., if a reasonable person might think it is a variant of USB-C, and USB devices seem to work for long periods of time without apparent damage, then Nintendo is liable by virtue of resulting damage to the consumer's property (not to the USB organization). There's a certain liability for negligence in that case. But I could also see reasonable arguments that if Nintendo were explicitly saying it is not a USB port, that they shouldn't be liable (I don't agree but see it as a reasonable argument).
But if Nintendo is advertising it in anyway like that, they should be held liable. I just don't see a reasonable argument for why that wouldn't be the case. You can't have your cake and eat it too.
In the EU there's an automatic 2 year replacement warranty on electronics too.
Which makes sense to me, because “licensing the port design” would involve trying to extract money from the wrong people — it would target the bulk parts manufacturers producing the USB-C connectors. Those parts manufacturers would have to pay per connector-part produced in such a scheme. Those businesses 1. operate on razor-thin margins such that there’s no margin to extract there, and 2. don’t have nearly the tight logistics pipelines that consumer-electronics companies do, so there’d likely be huge bins of USB-C connectors laying around awaiting an order, where they’d have to eat the licensing fees in advance of receiving payment for the parts (which puts a big hole in their cashflow.)
Much better to go after the high-margin device manufacturers and OEM integrators. But you can’t really pursue them for infringing on the part; they didn’t make it, they just bought it. They’d tell you to go chase the people they bought it from. (And, as said above, you don’t want to do that.) Instead, you have to pursue them for something they’re doing. Such as adding the USB logo to their product.
Remember when people were mad about Apple patenting rounded corners? This would be as bad.
Consider the situation with standard NEMA 5-15R receptacles. As far as I'm aware, the design is not legally protected, but any manufacturer who made a '5-15R' receptacle that couldn't carry 15A--or any device manufacturer who decided to re-purpose the pins such that the ground conductor carried 240V--would have legal problems if they brought their product to market.
This is where USB-PD should be: in a situation where physical connector compatibility brings with it enough design assurances that any pairing of legally-available devices won't blow up, catch fire, or burn out. Ideally, any USB-PD device pairing should work, but at the moment the bare minimum needs to be that any device pairing is safe.
Someone making a port the exact size and shape of a USB-C port (within tolerances) is doing it for the purpose of being compatible, and telling them to meet the (non-onerous) spec to be allowed would not get nasty headlines.
People put TRS (3.5mm audio) jacks on random proprietary wall-chargers. They don't do it so that the charger can "be compatible with" the analog-audio ecosystem (what do you want to do; plug your charger into an amplifier?)
No, these manufacturers use TRS jacks, because TRS jacks (and sockets) are cheap parts. (Remember, they're not making these parts; they're just ordering them, in bulk, from some supplier that has a warehouse full of them. And that supplier doesn't care what they're used for; they just want to get them sold.)
USB-C connectors are now also seemingly beginning to be cheap parts.
But even if they want to, it would be better if someone stops them.
Seems to me like that claim is false advertising at the minimum, and specifically exempting other charges on top of that is very consumer unfriendly.
this is not correct. Ctrl-f "USB Type-C", it's right there.
Also most charger are fully compatible with the switch off I remember correctly the only way to fry your switch with a charger is by using a charger with high voltage/amper support with a cable which doesn't support any form of fast charging and even then it might not happen. But most chargers which support faster charging do have the cable fixed to the charger to prevent any user confusion.
As an effect of this most (all?) USB-C PD laptop chargers work with the switch. Only with chargers for phones and small tablets do you have to be careful but again most higher quality chargers from that area work just fine, too.
I'd actually say its more like building a failed structure out of something that looks like, but actually isn't, concrete, and then saying that concrete is a terrible material to use for buildings.
This is a violation of the USB spec, not a flaw in it. Anyone could deliver mains AC voltage over a USB-C cable, and it would fry just about everything on the market.
Plus, Nintendo is far from the only offender in the USB-C space.
I think that is very non-obvious though, especially for the typical consumer
- A dock, the alternate mode used isn't fully standard conform and prone to fry your switch.
- A unlucky combination of cheap but fully standard conform charger with bad cable with switch.
Through wrt. docks there is some non standard compilant parts about switching to the "dock" alternate mode, maybe I misremeber and that can't damage your switch.
Anyway if you by anything but super cheap potentially broken chargers in 2020 I would be very surprised if it damages yours Switch. Especially laptop chargers tend to work very well with it. Actually I observed (but maybe wrongly) that somehow my Lenovo think pad laptop charger does a better job when charging and at the same time playing in handheld mode .
Charging it has never been an issue for anyone and this is the first I heard being a charging issue
Can't this hazard be eliminated with some kind of "USB Condom" that would, at least, universalize your cables and ports ?
I have a USB condom that I use for standard USB ports for disabling data lines (turning them into power only cords) - I assume you could build a smarter, more sophisticated USB condom that would allow you to safeguard against these edge cases and incompatibilities ?
Charging undercharged lithium batteries must be done exactly right or it can get dangerous because of this is often only supported by OEM chargers or some workaround like keep your device plugged in for 12h even through it in no way indicates that is charging and it will then magically work again (my last phone )
A $60 bill to fix their fuckup? I'd have returned that under the (legal) warranty.
It's Apple's stuff(the irony of it, right?) that has all kinds of problems. I don't even charge my MacBook with Apple's chargers anymore.
Not only has the Switch always charged safely, later revisions are also more compliant. The issue has always been with the charger and dock. Never PD compliant chargers straight in the switch.
The thunderbolt 3 + usb C thing is true though. My Thunderbolt 3 dock won't charge a non-TB3 device. I'd consider that a minor issue though, especially as USB4 fixes it entirely.
It has worked reliably with pretty much every charger I threw at it so this sounds like one of those urban myths.
GP is giving you their first-hand experience with this issue. It’s a little disrespectful to call it an urban myth replying to a first-hand account.
FWIW, the Switch charger outputs a higher voltage, IIRC.
What was bend-gate?
The fact that there's a wiki on "what usb c charger to buy" for your switch suggest many others are having issues too - https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/6jnkl4/list...
> Our engineers have inspected your Switch Console and found damage due to USB-C Connector Damage. Under our warranty policy we do not cover the cost of the repair for damaged items. A payment of £53.50 is required for us to complete the repair.
Personally I think it comes down to both the charging profiles the switch will accept are limited, such that some chargers don’t work with the switch - each USB PD charger supports a different set of charging specs (volts/amps/watts). https://www.reddit.com/r/UsbCHardware/comments/ch99aj/apple_...
I’d also suggest that some PD bricks/chargers might not be as reliable at sending power, if so, or if a cable’s wiring sends it down the wrong path, it could be disastrous for many devices that don’t take this into account. I am reminded of reviews of USB-C cables from a few years ago from Benson Leung.
With Micro-USB I had charging cables that didn't have data lines in them, Kindle power adaptors that didn't offer enough output for my phone to charge off, and non-standard devices that didn't follow the spec and only worked with certain stuff.
In my experience, it works well enough I've actively only been buying USB-C stuff where it is at all possible to do so for a while now.
It feels like these complaints are inevitable to me: a spec with no flexibility would become redundant too quickly or cost far too much to implement in most devices to ever see widespread adoption.
Depending on cable configuration, pinout, wall plate and structured wiring system, that 8P8C might be usable (or not) for multiple different types of data networking, from the assorted ethernet speeds (some of which may successfully autonegotiate, but not all) to E1 to token ring, or for a serial console, or delivering power and audio to a remote speaker, or hdmi-over-utp, or even -48V telephony, and let's not even get started on the only-subtly-different but actually incompatible RJ45S connector, or people sticking RJ11 plugs in 8P8C ports.
And yet the world has coped with this proliferation.
I have experienced none of the issues described in the article despite possessing 30+ USB Type-C devices. The article above simply comes across as an overwhelming refusal to take any personal responsibility for technical purchasing choices.
Interesting definition there.
Universality of physical plug, I guess?
In theory yes. In practice most of the cables are good enough for most users - e.g. in a home LAN cables are probably 10m at most, so even a cat5 cable can probably give people a connection that's as fast as their internet uplink. If the problems with USB-C are common enough to impact normal users (and I think lack of thunderbolt falls into that category) then that's a major difference in practice.
this is a problem if you expect things to be like USB2 where you can collect all these random cables and power blocks and use them interchangeably. this wasn't always true with USB2 anyway, with all the out of spec "fast charge" implementations.
there are a lot of optional features and speed tiers for USB3, which is certainly annoying. but you have the option of buying a bunch of cables that support everything you need/use and scatter those around your house. they will work with any standards compliant equipment, which is really the best you can hope for with any standard.
Silly question time, why would we not expect that?
Note that if you connect two usb-6 devices with a usb-5 cable (Intentionally using standards that don't exist yet) is may drop back to working like usb-5. If you connect a usb-5 device to a usb-6 device it should all just work - to the limits of usb-5 of course.
With USB-C there are multiple official cable types, all with the same connectors, plus high voltages that can fry devices, plus complex protocols that are apparently too much for some manufacturers to implement safely.
Any examples of this other than the Switch?
The cable situation before was pretty good, honestly. And if we could just mark the speed rating on USB-C cables it would solve almost all the problems. Maybe another symbol for the ones that can do >60 watts but even that is quite niche in comparison.
from my perspective, USB-IF has taken a bunch of random shit that manufacturers were going to do anyway and made them proper (though optional) parts of the spec. I understand it didn't work out perfectly, but I don't really understand why they are getting so much flak for it. I'd much rather have a bunch of cables and devices that at least try to meet an official spec than to have a bunch of proprietary implementations that make no effort at being compatible.
Literally half the pins are missing on charge-only cables.
>but I don't really understand why they are getting so much flak for it.
From me, because my partner bought an USB-C to 3.5mm jack converter that refused to work with "this device only supports official huawei converters". That, and two completely different cables with almost disjoint functionality look _the same_. If they mandated color coding or anything else to be able to physically determine what cable is what, I wouldn't complain.
That all said, the _charging_ story is decent enough, everything else is garbage.
okay, but unless you know which pins are missing, how do you know you're not looking at a data-only cable?
> From me, because my partner bought an USB-C to 3.5mm jack converter that refused to work with "this device only supports official huawei converters". That, and two completely different cables with almost disjoint functionality look _the same_. If they mandated color coding or anything else to be able to physically determine what cable is what, I wouldn't complain.
this sounds like more of a huawei issue than a USB-C issue. if a manufacturer is just going to refuse to support a standards-compliant cable, you're out of luck either way. color coding would be nice though, they could have made that mandatory rather than recommended. I'm sure companies like apple wouldn't give a fuck either way and would just go with whatever looked aesthetically pleasing, USB-IF cert be damned.
> That all said, the _charging_ story is decent enough, everything else is garbage.
what "everything else" is garbage? there are higher speed variants, but you seem to already consider it reasonable to look at pins, so that shouldn't be a problem for you. thunderbolt support doesn't need any special pins; it just needs a high quality cable, which is analogous to the charging situation for this and the previous generation.
You know it's a different cable and that's enough.
>this sounds like more of a huawei issue than a USB-C issue. if a manufacturer is just going to refuse to support a standards-compliant cable, you're out of luck either way. color coding would be nice though, they could have made that mandatory rather than recommended. I'm sure companies like apple wouldn't give a fuck either way and would just go with whatever looked aesthetically pleasing, USB-IF cert be damned.
That is made possible by USB-C standard. USB-A and USB-B cables were too dumb to support that.
>you seem to already consider it reasonable to look at pins
The pinouts are the same for all different types of cables. It is literally impossible to differentiate cables based on visual inspection. The USB-C standard is a unified charger and a bunch of different cables in with the same connector.
I just grabbed a power-only microUSB cable out of my cable box (it came with a microUSB-powered soap dispenser!), and it has all the pins, but only the power pins are actually wired.
It might not be so terrible if they came labeled with symbols or letters or colors or something. But there is absolutely no way to know which cable does what once you've taken it out of its packaging that (hopefully) lists its specifications correctly.
Good luck remembering which white cable was which.
it's really not that hard. for travel, I have three identical cables that work with all my portable devices. for devices that spend their whole lives in one place, I use the cable it came with.
And one big benefit of the current USB-C era is that 15-18W power adapters are more ubiquitous than ever, and compact enough that there's almost never any reason to use a smaller one anymore. And more and more devices are not coming with their own power adapter these days, which is better for the environment and simplifies my life, every usb-c device I own can be charged by the same chargers and will charge quickly.
It's way better than each device coming with its own adapter of arbitrary shape that may or may not be able to be plugged in without blocking the adjacent socket on the wall or power strip, with seemingly arbitrary max power output, with an arbitrary choice of using usb A/mini/micro connector.
Not the issues, but it addresses the gist of it.
For that person (and me) it has simplified things. If simplifying your life is part of the measurement, it has for some folks.
If you buy decent cables they all do. The reality is that whatever devices you're plugging the cables into might not support every feature you're looking for. Instead of blaming poorly built devices or ignorant consumers it must be the shape of the cable that's the problem surely.
Problem: Physical connectors previous encoded information about data/power transfer mode support. When USB C unified the physical connector, that information was lost.
Solution: Mandate visually encoded supported standards on the USB cable in colored ring form, a la resistors.
Make them plastic, so you can snip them off if the aesthetic bothers. But I should be able to reach into a bin of different USB C cables, and determine what each cable can and can't do.
The law here for specifications teams should be: assume the consumer is never going to read your spec. Their ability to use the technology shouldn't be contingent on their doing so.
I agree in principal, but please don't do it with colored rings. Many of us have much more limited color perception due to colorblindness. I recently purchased some 8 cable 1/4" TRS snakes, and the only thing identifying which connector on one side of the snake was connected to a connector on the other side were colored bands--many of which I couldn't tell apart. I ended up pulling out a multimeter to test continuity, and then labeled then with unique glyphs on each end that weren't dependent on color (i.e. 1, 2, 3, etc.).
You say that but, and I realise it's pedantic, your comment only supports not limiting the identification to only coloured rings.
Coloured rings would be a very good solution for a large percentage of the users. Glyphs will also fail with the blind, maybe with dyslexics.
Or of interest, would you pay more for glyph coded versions? Just pondering if The Market would ever create a solution.
Also keep in mind features that address a disability can be of benefit to everyone. For example: being able to identify something by shape can be useful to the colour blind, blind, and sighted people.
this is not strictly true, at least for USB. you can use a USB 1.x to connect USB2/3 endpoints, but you will only get 1.x speeds. there were power-only cables that didn't transfer data at all. they are all physically compatible. unless you're familiar with the pin layout, there's no way to distinguish the different flavors of A ports.
I’ve never seen a blue connector and ports in most laptops are just body coloured like in MacBooks.
But suffice it to say, the situation was simpler / more user-friendly.
There's a really detailed post from one of the third party dock makers (genki) about all the specifics of the switch's usb-c PD implementation, including the fact that the switch uses a (nearly) bog standard usb-c pd controller chip: https://www.reddit.com/r/NintendoSwitch/comments/ckaiiv/an_e...
Just because nintendo won't warrant use of third party docks or claim compatibility doesn't mean it's not compatible. Nor does any anecdotal experience of a usb-c charger frying a switch (I've fried a dell laptop's battery with a busted usb-c cable, does that mean dells aren't conformant?).
I buy USB-PD chargers and cables from reputable brands, and everything just charges. When I use the cables for data transfer, it just works -- no muss or fuss like there were with some of the charge-only converter cables for charging micro-USB devices.
Now if I were using Thunderbolt 3, yeah, you need a higher-end cable and there are restrictions on cable length for speed purposes (or moving up to a more expensive active cable). But I think that's a fair trade-off for being able to use that same cable for everything else as well.
We cannot WAIT until our household says goodbye to the last couple devices with legacy ports and we can throw the last few converter dongles in a drawer. Looking at you, Apple and Amazon Kindle -- when are you going to get with the program and ditch your legacy Lightning and micro-USB ports respectively?
Above about 1m (3 feet) a passive cable usually isn't good enough for TB3 connections and you have to use a more expensive "active" cable. Active cables have built in signal-boosting circuits -- they're amplifying and re-transmitting signals, not just passing them over the wires.
For other brands you need to check the specs carefully to see what the rated power and transmission speeds are (and take anything from a fly-by-night brand out of China with a grain of salt).
On the other hand, I would say that all of us here on HN probably aren't the target audience for this article. Collectively, I'd say HN readers are likely to understand that different USB-C bricks, cables, and devices are going to support different things and research our purchases accordingly. The article seems to be more targeted at people who will grab a $3.50 gas station cable and expect it to charge their phone at 18w and laptop at 65w.
In their defense, all those cable look exactly the same.
I haven't gone through the whole usb-c/thunderbolt reading yet , so I might as well make the same mistake. And the fact that you're supposed to do the whole reading thing is probably the source of the problem.
You see the same plug, same colors on the connector, you EXPECT to work the same.
 Most of my devices are micro-usb, my Dell work laptop charges via thunderbolt/usb-c but I've got the Dell dock for that.
Would it have been better if they all worked exactly the same from day 1? Absolutely. Do I think we'll get to a point where USB-C is categorically better than what came before? Also yes.
Maybe I do need to buy those gold-plated cables.
Overall, I don't think it's entirely unfair to expect people to pay $10-15 for a quality cable, especially since these modern cables are often expected to carry significant amounts of power.
Most charging cables get treated more like a power cord on a construction site - they don't just get plugged in and hidden behind a TV so the quality of the shielding and connectors is paramount to withstand the twisting and strains
On the other hand, I have never had a $10-15 Anker or some other brand cable fail on me without serious abuse. As a consumer, I'll happily pay the extra few dollars for the expectation of durability, a warranty of some sort, and the knowledge that the cable should Just Work with most of my devices, even if I know that the price is way out of proportion to the materials involved.
Can't speak for all other consumers, of course, but I would expect that many have figured the same thing out over the years of purchasing Micro USB/Lightning/30pin/etc cables.
Things seem to have gotten much better since the first USB-C only Macbooks and other devices started to arrive, so my hope is that we'll reach a point within another few years where one can pretty confidently purchase a cable or charger and assume it'll work with a standard device. It certainly does suck for now that you can end up with the wrong thing if you don't do a ton of compatibility checking.
Bricking your switch with a "pure" charger mostly only happens with but fully standard conform chargers used with the wrong cable.
Most (all?) Hight voltage/amper chargers like e.g. for laptops work just fine on the switch.
Through it's a bit more troublesome for the dock.
Do we say that a car was 'bricked' when we trash it in an accident?
A car that was destroyed in an accident would not be considered bricked because it has sustained cosmetic damage. You can't use it for it's aesthetics alone. e.g. in a museum.
A Tesla car where the battery charger has died could be considered a bricked car though.
My USB-C devices are the ones I need to worry about. All of the chargers I've bought (not the ones that came with devices) have at least one USB-C port, but the charger I have in my bedroom is too weak for the laptop I'm using in the family room right now, which is precisely why they stay in different rooms. And then there's the Switch, as others have mentioned. At least for the devices I own, USB-C is far more differentiated/fragmented than USB-B. The only thing that's unified is the physical connector.
ETA: I see a lot of other comments saying they don't have problems. Almost to a one, they seem to be Mac users talking about fairly static setups, and recommend "top of the line" (i.e. expensive) docks etc. I suggest that those experiences are even less representative of the typical non-HN user than my own.
You don't need "Top of the Line" anything, you just need to avoid random junk. Micro-USB isn't much better in this regard. The cheaper cables charge slower and have slower data transfer rates.
The big difference here is many USB-C devices need a lot more power, so when you buy a crappy cable, it's a lot more of an issue.
Not really. Other interconnect standards have often (sadly not always) made it much harder for a small error like this to cause actual physical damage. USB-C made it easy, despite decades of learning on the subject. Yes, the fault is mostly Nintendo's, but USB-IF wasn't totally innocent either.
USB-C was not supposed to be a glorified power cable. It promised much, much more, and manufacturers annoyingly restricting the port choices on newer laptops made that promise even more prominent. It has failed miserably on that promise.
Speaking about Thunderbolt via USB-C it is incredible to sit in my work desk, connect a single cable to the notebook and suddenly having a desktop computer with three external monitors, keyboard, mouse, and many other ports. I have not tried an eGPU yet but will be happier if thunderbolt evolves faster and gives more extensibility options to notebooks. I cannot forget to mention that another USB-C dongle that I use can also be connected to the mobile phone and converting the mobile phone into another desktop computer with mouse, keyboard, and an external monitor. Before USB-C and Thunderbolt you should acquire specific dongles for specific devices.
As for an eGPU user - the issue with eGPU is the cost of setup, but Thunderbolt docks are also stupid expensive(above $200 for one). I built my eGPU setup for $350(PowerColor+RX550), as a good Thunderbolt dock is in the range of $300.
Yeah, be careful with that - for some MacBook Pro models charging from the left side will cause overheating and CPU throttling issues.
 we'll be able to do that again sometime right?
Because I've had my MBP plugged in for the last 6 months, driving 2 external 4K displays on one side, power-in on the other, and an OWC 10Gigabit dock in the last port.
It's cool to touch, but I have the lid open (I use the LCD as the third display). I've read of people saying it gets hot when the lid is closed...
This is while the computer is under load (a Google Meet in Chrome, which is a power hungry little SOB). Also, the power is the only thing in the hot corner.
Old USB printer cables have a "USB-A" end that goes into your computer and the USB-B end for the printer. You can't mess that up.
I've recently handled multiple support calls from a family member due to USB-C confusion. I have to explain "This USB port is only for power, this USB port is for power and data. And don't try to try use HDMI through your USB hub because it some some strange problem. Use this other USB-C port only for your monitor".
Maybe USB C is better for a few, but it's worse for many.
Stupid manufacturers will do stupid things with any standard. Nobody should be making a laptop with one USB C port that's power only and one that's power and data.
It was such a game changer to not bend plugs/break laptops when you got the cord stuck on something.. and we gave that all up just to have one port.
Can it be confusing? Yes. But it's a hellova improvement from bunch of disjoint cable standards we had before.
However, it’s confusing AF. I feel like the first failure really is that it’s very unclear which ports and which cables support which features and how fast. You really have to know the technical differences when shopping. And you basically have to label every cable you buy, otherwise you have no idea what it’s capabilities are when you find it in your closet a year after buying it.
The other huge issue is spec compliance. It’s not clear to the average consumer whether they’re buying spec-compliant devices or non-compliant device-killers.
The real disappointment is that USB-C could unite power and data delivery so that you won’t have to think about using a different shaped input for display/power. Due to patchy support this is not possible. It is explained in the article well.
This article feels like an engineer complaining like: "the spec is too long for me to read and is therefore bad."
It's just incorrectly implements the switch to an alternate mode which it uses for it's duck which causes 3rd party docks to fry switches.
It's generally more sensitive in that alternate mode as it draws more power.
The dock itself is a different matter.
But the switch does implant USB-C PD just fine.
I'm frequently charging it with my laptop charger and many people do so as far as I know.
It's also why using a power bank with the switch works just fine.
* Some carry data, but won't charge things.
* Some charge, but don't carry data.
* Some charge at a higher amperage.
Once upon a time, back when we used PS-2 connectors for keyboards and mice, we had the same problem. A keyboard wouldn't work in a mouse port (although they were the same physical connector), but a mouse might work in a keyboard port.
Would it be wrong for me to say I would like to take an old PS-2 cable and strangle anyone who thinks this kind of antics are a good idea?
>Other devices, like the Nintendo Switch, only partially support the standard, and some unsupported chargers have bricked devices, reportedly due to the Switch’s maximum voltage being exceeded.
It also mentions issues with some devices/ports supporting "Power Delivery" and some not, and no way to tell them apart by just looking at them.
So, yeah, you can get lucky and everything just works, but that's not universal.
Like in 10 years when due to innovation we start migration to another standard...
GaN chargers are pretty cool. I found the Hyper Juice to be a shit product though. Still waiting for Anker to release some high watt chargers.
Then I have lots different computers. My Macbook Air has USB-C, my MacBook Pro has USB-A, My brand new desktop PC has USB-A, my Razer laptop has both USB-A and USB-C, my Playstation has USB-A. I have USB-A SD-Card readers and USB-A hubs.
Then, when If first got the Macbook Air I ended up going through 3 different USB-C hubs until I finally figured out how to buy one that actually supported 4k-60hz (the first 2 only supported 4k-30hz). Then later, I tried to use the Razer on a USB-C monitor. It worked but at some point the keyboard and mouse were flaky. Turned out apparently I needed a Thunderbolt HUB, not a USB-C hub (plugs are the same) so now I've gone through 4 hubs.
you can read about the 4 or 5 kinds of possible USB-C hubs you might end up with if you're not careful. I have no idea how a non-techie figures this out.
And then, I still have 3 iPhones that all use lighting (USB-A to lighting) and a few other devices at are USB-Micro (Kindle for example)
And several external hard-drives that are all that USB-3 wide plug to USB-A
I'm sure by the time USB-D arrives USB-C will be great and all my cables will be USB-C on both ends and all my devices will only have USB-C sockets but right now it's a mess
Now when I travel I use my Lenovo charger to charge my Android phones and tablet.
Unfortunately work provides me with an iPhone so that's still one more charger. One more piece of plastic floating around the ocean in the future. God damnit apple...
Be aware that cables of different specs of usb-c are known to burst into fire when you use them for charging or to connect devices of different specs.
It must be nice to have all new things. I cannot afford to renew all my devices every few years, nor do I want too. Just looking around my room now, I probably have several thousand dollars worth of SDR dongles, battery packs, wifi adapters, raspberry bits and external drives for various projects. They are all on the old connectors/standards but work perfectly well. I have no intention of tossing everything because there is a new cable standard with go-faster stripes.
You may want to read this stack exchange answer: https://apple.stackexchange.com/a/363933
> TLDR; If your MacBook Pro runs hot or shows a high % CPU for the kernel task, try charging on the right and not on the left.