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How to Avoid Dodgy USB-C Cables That Could Fry Your Gear

Back in November, a Google software engineer named Benson Leung had a problem: He came across a few USB-C cables for his Chromebook Pixel that didn’t function according to the USB-C specification and risked damaging the laptop.

So he started reviewing them on Amazon, using specialized diagnostic tools to see if each would pass the correct amount of power to a laptop, phone or tablet… and kept at it. You can browse his findings —105 posts to date — on the Google+ page Leung set up, or you can get a tl;dr summary of his endorsements on his Amazon wish list.

You’ll see that having a no-name brand is no bar to quality (no, I hadn’t heard of Cambond or Yoozon either); about the only companies I recognized that got his nod were Xiaomi and Monoprice. It’s also remarkable how such vendors as Cable Matters and TechMatte shaped up their act and shipped spec-compliant cables after getting dinged in Leung’s earlier reviews.

For more guidance, Leung has also posted a FAQ, which in turn notes that Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and Chromebook Pixel C owners can test their own cables with a free utility called CheckR.

Alas, that’s likely to be Leung’s last word on the subject for a little while. He wrote on Monday that a badly wired SurjTech cable had fried his test equipment, including his Pixel: “I am very unhappy, and this is going to affect how quickly I get through cables and other accessories in the short term since my computer is dead.”

Email Rob at rob@robpegoraro.com; follow him on Twitter at @robpegoraro.

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