Tech by VICE

Amazon Bans Unsafe USB-C Cables After Exhaustive Independent Research

Nice guys finish first.

by Nicholas Deleon
Mar 30 2016, 2:25pm

Image: Maurizio Pesce/Flickr

It's mission accomplished for one Google engineer this morning.

Amazon will no longer stock USB-C cables that do not comply with technical specifications set by a USB standards body. Until now, Amazon was rife with poorly made USB-C cables, some of which were so improperly wired that they delivered more electrical current than they were supposed to, creating the potential for fires. One such cable actually destroyed the engineer's test equipment (a $1499 Chromebook Pixel 2) earlier this year.

"[This is] really great news, but we all have to continue to be vigilant and call out any bad products we find on Amazon and other stores (both online and brick and mortar) as we find them," the Google engineer, Benson Leung, said on Google+, echoing Motherboard's unofficial slogan (stay vigilant!).

Leung began his investigation into USB-C cables last fall, leaving detailed reviews of various cables on Amazon as a way to help prevent people from buying low-quality cables that could potentially damage their devices, like newer smartphones and tablets. (The Nextbit Robin, for example, uses USB-C.) Before becoming the world's best known USB cable reviewer, Leung spent some time reviewing video games on Amazon, praising Valve's Portal for its "wonderfully playful yet sinister" theme.

USB-C was first introduced in 2014, and is best recognized for its reversible plug, similar to Apple's Lightning cable, that can be plugged into a device both "right-side-up" or "upside down."

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