The future of cable-connectivity for our technologies is almost definitely USB-C. It’s a new standard that combines an incredible variety of technologies into one unified, reversible, flexible, and expandable cable and connectivity standard. It’s combination of physical size, ease of use, and technology integrations make it seem like an obvious candidate to replace most of the cables we’re using today. With its available features, USB-C can certainly replace your monitor cable, USB cables connecting your external hard drive, dock connector cable, phone charging cable, laptop charging cable, tv display cable, and even your headphone cable.
Although USB-C does theoretically support all of these operations and then some, not all physical cables are created equal. Within the USB-C standard exists a bit of flexibility as to which features manufacturers build their cables to support. For example, the USB-C cable that comes as the charging cable for the new-ish USB-C Apple Macbook supports charging plus only USB-2 data transfer speed.
Since USB-C can be used for so many things, I think the best way to buy new gear is to go with a cable that supports as many USB-C features as possible. Sure I may only need to charge my phone with my new full featured USB-C cable now, but down the road, with a good quality long lasting cable, I’ll be able to use it not only for my phone, but also as a high speed transfer cable, monitor cable, etc – without needing to buy new cables, and without needing to hunt around for just the right cable. I want all of my USB-C cables to be able to be picked up and used for whatever USB-C connectivity application I want.
Cable and accessory manufacturer Accell recently sent me their brand new, full-featured USB-C>USB-C cable to test out. After a bit of usage, here are my thoughts. In summary – the cable is well build physically, and supports the highest USB-C/3.1 standards, and is a solid, future-proof performer.
What It Is
The USB-C to C USB 3.1 Cable is a fully featured USB-C cable. It has the same reversible connector at each end, and is really the “ideal” USB-C cable variety. This is the direction all cables and connectivity schemes will be heading in. The cable I tested is 1m long.
The Accell USB-C to C USB 3.1 Cable allows easy connection between your USB-C (also known as Type-C) host computer to a USB-C device. With reversible USB-C connectors the cable connection works in either direction. Able to charge, transfer data to and power a connected device, this USB-C to C cable with ultra-compact connectors is incredibly powerful.
Find official specs here: http://www.accellcables.com/collections/cables/products/usb-c-to-c-usb-3-1-cable
Who It’s For
As I noted above, this full-featured USB-C cable is good for almost ALL users of USB-C. Since it supports virtually all technologies using USB-C, it will work with basically any application. The only group it might not work great for is the hyper-minimalist traveler looking for an ultimately compact cable for only charging and low-speed syncing. The cable is built thick and strong, so it’s not the most compact. Whereas my 1 meter long USB>Lightning cable for my iPhone will coil up and fit in the 5th pocket of my jeans, this cable will not.
After checking out cables for years, and going through my fair share of broken cables and crappy ones, this one feels pretty solid. Its jacketed in a soft black rubber, with molded connectors. The rubber jacketing is not as sticky as some other cables – but it’s also not slick. A definite matte appearance. The connectors at the end are moulded rubber – and while they’re beefy and strong, they’re not exactly the most compact. Contrast this with the lightening connector on my OEM Apple cable, and the Accell moldings are proportionally much more bulky than the svelte Apple lightning cable moldings. If I had an android phone with a form-fitting case, I’m not sure if this cable would be able to fit in the typically small cutouts of some cases. (but I guess that’s why they include a lower-rated charge-only cable with phones – less complexity to support lower standards lets them build a sleeker cable)
- Full featured cable. I love using this cable with a Macbook for charging, and knowing that if I need to plug in a high speed SSD into my macbook, I can use the same cable as I’m using to charge, and get the full 10Gbps speed of the standard/max speed of my ssd.
- The cable seems beefy and solid. I surely haven’t thrashed it around for months yet but so far, it’s holding up just fine.
- The USB-C connectors are one-piece metal – not the lesser folded metal I’ve seen in other cables. Win one for durability here.
- Well, it works just fine. I was able to get rated speeds from the cable, as well as fast charge times – the cable is certainly able to deliver on it’s stated specs.
- Accell states a “Lifetime Replacement” on the cable. I certainly haven’t tested this policy myself, but for a cable that’s on the leading edge of a new standard poised to be in place for a bunch of years, I think it’s worth investing in a cable that has this kind of policy. It’s certainly up to you to keep records of your purchase, and up to Accell to uphold their end of the deal, but if all goes well, this could be a cable you can use every day until it wears out, and then just get replaced with a new one. But again, I haven’t tried it.
- The connector moldings are kinda bulky – not an issue if it’s permanently installed as a monitor cable – but for using as a mobile charge/sync cable, or using with a form fitting case, this might be an issue.
- After a bit of merciless twisting, the cable coating has developed some wrinkles and stretch marks. It hasn’t torn or failed in any way, but there’s definitely some wrinkles in it from extreme bends.
- It’s somewhat stiff. I know it supports a bunch of tech and has lots of quality wire strands in it – but for a 1 meter cable, this one is on the thick side. A worthy compromise for multi-role flexibility.
Should you buy it?
If you’re looking for a “one cable to rule them all” kinda purchase, that will be able to be used for lots of roles well into the future, and are willing to spend good cash for it, sure, go for it. However, if you’re looking for simple charge cable, or can wait another few months until full featured cables have a bit more competition and the prices come down, then you could probably either go with a lesser cable, or wait a bit and pick one up on Monoprice.
Find It Here
It’s cool to be using a new standard of cables, and I’m very much hoping that USB-C does become the new ubiquitous connector standard of the future. Let’s just go with USB-C for wired connectivity, and make all of our lives more simple.
Here’s another great primer on USB-C, from cNet: USB Type-C: One cable to connect them all