Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/27/find-the-usb-c-hub-of-your-dre.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/01/27/find-the-usb-c-hub-of-your-dre.html
“Garbage fire” um… out of all the tech standards for ports/connectors etc. USB-C feels like the best thing in decades. You going to call it a garbage fire please expand? The only conceivable complaint I can think of is it does too much and some cables don’t do all of it. Is there some other gripe?
I like USB-C, too. But it was two years after getting my first USB-C device that I learned that not all USB-C cables have the same capabilities. And I still don’t know how to determine what capabilities my cables need to have, or if they have them.
For example: to connect a USB-C monitor to a laptop with a USB-C port requires all these divergent stars to be in alignment:
Both monitor and laptop having the same display protocol over USB-C (i.e. thunderbolt and/or displayport alt-mode)
Sufficient power delivery for the laptop.
The right type of USB-C cable.
It is difficult in many real-world cases to know, by looking at laptops, monitors or cables, whether these conditions are met. And frankly impossible, for many USB-C cables.
The USB-C port on some devices is literally just USB 3.x with a new connector: useless for anything but attaching standard USB devices.
Now, put a hub in there too?
I have a laptop with two USB-C ports.
That is it. For charging and connecting device I have two ports.
I have 16 fucking dongles and two ports.
That is what is wrong. That is the wrong direction for adaptation.
One issue I have with USB-C is that the cables are much more prone to accidental disconnection than USB-A.
I guess I’m getting old. I no longer am chasing every upgrade latest design. the 10 year old lcd monitors my company sent me home to work with remotely are “good enough” with their hdmi/dvi that plug into “usb-c docking station” that came with the new laptop. Other than a bevy of usb dongles (wireless headset/mouse/keyboard) which all have USB-A plugs and work fine on the hub I don’t really know what else I would want to connect.
Or maybe I’ve been trained to have low expectations? every other usb hub/device I could never be certain what needed it’s own power or what would be powered over usb?
The only disappointment I’ve had is trying to plug my phone into a hub to run a keyboard/mouse/monitor and only getting a subset of things to work, but that was just me being idly curious as to what would work expecting little or none of it.
I love USB-C compared to any other option.
I mean if my laptop is at my desk a docking station/hub is sure to be at hand. If I’m not at my desk I’m not sure how many peripherals I really going to bring with me. If it’s a bunch, is bringing a hub along too really that much more effort? if it means slimmer/lighter laptop when I don’t need them?
Would be nice if there was either a color scheme or some icons on the plug that depicted the capabilities.
In addition to the more serious points above, the main selling point of the physical connector is that by being reversible, it is easier to plug in; but since both the gentleman and lady ends are required to have no bevel whatsoever, and also have tighter tolerances, it is significantly harder to get it in the hole than with a TRS, Lightning or correctly-oriented USB-B connector.
And it’s not like USB-C comes from a blank slate; it exists solely to improve on previous standards. To spend a decade doing that, and fail to fix multiple known problems (or knowingly make them worse) is an inexcusable clusterfuck of biblical proportions.
Odd I find it significantly easier to connect than anything you just mentioned. In my experience it has improved on the previous standards and hasn’t made a single thing worse.
This. Very much this.
I recently was given a new MacBook Pro at work and all it has is USB-C ports. No HDMI. No RJ45. No older USB A. So of course now I have to buy all new dongles and adapters to carry around in my bag so that Apple can maintain it’s ‘sleek and sexy’ look.
It’s very much a ploy to force consumers to have to update and buy a plethora of new cables.
Well I mean, that’s also the case for ethernet. And USB 1/2. And plenty of other serial and parallel cables over the years. Not really anything new, with USB-C.
And of course to confused things even more, USB 4 is basically the same as Thunderbolt 3, but maybe not quite?
Worse than any of these issues are the USB naming conventions, WHICH THEY KEEP FREAKING CHANGING! What was USB 3 became 3.1 Gen 1 and is now 3.2 Gen 1, and they have other names as well, which nobody in their right mind could possibly remember? This is worse than the connector ambiguity, because even if the cables are LABELLED, it doesn’t even make any sense!
I hear you.
How has it come to this?
A “diversity of dongles” = late stage capitalism metastasized beyond Steve Jobs’ wildest dreams
“I connected this USB-C cable to this hard drive and the transfer speeds suck.” There’s like 20 things that can go wrong, from the cable to the host to the drive. And without knowing the technical details for every part of the chain it’s near impossible to know what it is. Is the cable only rated for USB 2.0 speeds? Did you mean to grab an identical looking Thunderbolt cable instead? Does your device only support 3.0? Did you plug it into the wrong USB-C port? And on and on and on. (And that doesn’t even touch the complexities of power delivery over USB-C.)
In general there’s a lot I like about USB-C, but there’s a lot of frustration as well.
Expensive? 25$ on amazon and 17$ on AliExpress
But I am really getting confused / old / both … my current machine is a mid 2014 MBP and those thunderbolt ports it has do look different. Am I supposed to know that thunderbolt ports now look exactly like USB-C ports? and I can chuck my 2 display dongles once I get a new machine (really hoping for a 14" in a 13.3" body coming up next, also, would not mind if they dropped that touch bar and with that a few $$$ since I always use an ext, KB anyways)
That Choetech looks nice enough, portable, but I still could use more regular (old fashioned) USB-A ports Not so wild about card slots. The current card slot I have on my old machine is used for a 128GB extension “HD”
I have a couple of the hubs on that page, and they work well enough other than getting hot, but I hate the importance of quality of the cable. I don’t know if the stories of bad cables destroying USB C ports are true or just boogeymen, but the possibility means that in the few months I’ve had my latest computer I’ve spent more on cables (to get known-safe ones) than I did in the previous 20 years.
For most of my low-speed USB A devices (printer, scanner) I confess that I just use the tiny USB A to C adapters that you can get on eBay for $1/apiece. They work fine, though I don’t know if they are going to hose my port.
The future need more dongles and multport hub
Oh, that’s easy to explain. Prior to USB-C, I never had trouble getting a monitor to be recognized and display properly (except MF projectors at conferences). This experience spans 1980s custom monitors like the Amiga, up through composite, up through VGA, up through all the Thunderbots/DisplayPorts/HDMI, etc. Monitors just worked. With USB-C, about one third of the time, the monitor isn’t recognized for no apparent reason. Sometimes it disconnects for no apparent reason during use. When it does work, it takes 2 or 3 seconds to wake up and start working. I had to buy five cables before I got one that worked between my Apple monitor and my Apple laptop.
I had to buy a hub to use all my old stuff because 1:1 adapters seem not to exist. Or the ones that do don’t seem to work. I had to buy five cables before I found one that would power that hub and connect it reliably. Sometimes the phones connected to that hub don’t charge for no apparent reason, despite showing connection. I’ve found no hub that will drive my monitor despite all the plugs being the same, so I have a different cable and dongle for that.
What USB-C did is take all the subtleties of power delivery, display protocols, accessory compatibility and obfuscated them under the same physical connector. It promised to solve all the problems, and instead just made them way harder to solve.
I expect over time this will sort itself out. Early USB 1 was sort of a mess too and made me miss my SCSI, parallel and serial ports. For now though, it’s a goddam garbage fire, without a doubt.
If I expand the abbreviation, is it a typical swearword?
Hell, only this week I witnessed three presentations and one video conferencing attempt fouled by missing cables, missing options of connectivity on one piece of hardware, and missing hubs/connectors/adapters.
And no USB-C involved.
If I calculated the cost of this, I run into higher four figures at least. I had federal ministry officials calling instantaneous help from the IT department, people running up and down stairs looking for different solutions and at least one key player phoning in on said video conference with their private mobile put on speaker to give their part of a talk without seeing it and telling someone to change slides / asking which slide we were on. The number of people affected was a high two digit figure, all of which were payed during the time. Many of them with public money. And that doesn’t even account for the related stress.
I’m all for being critical of USB-C, but let us not forget the shitshow was on high rotation before that already.