Are These Tangle-Free USB Cables Worth It?

Are These Tangle-Free USB Cables Worth It?

As long as there have been cables, there has been tangling. There’s nothing worse than reaching into your pocket or bag to grab your charging cable for your soon-t0-be-dead smartphone, only to waste time, energy, and sanity untangling the many knots like a chump. Well, chump no more: Cable-makers are starting to wisen up, offering solutions to this age-old problem — with some unfortunate compromises.

The Verge’s Sean Hollister dived into this new market of tangle-free cables, and the results are, well, tangle-free (if not perfect). Let’s start with the good news: These cables are cool. They are designed to fold onto themselves, even if some don’t necessarily live up to the advertised “self-winding” name. The cables are made of flexible silicon, with small magnets placed strategically throughout, which results in a seamless winding pattern when you fold them up.

The idea started with SuperCalla, as you can see in their launch video from March of 2020. However, the design has spread: There are multiple versions of this product available to purchase, making tangle-free cables a viable, accessible reality. You can imagine multiple use-cases for this type of “self-winding” design, too. Sure, it packs up nicely, but it also ensures cables on tables or desks don’t turn into the jumbled sprawl we’re used to.

That’s the good news. The bad? These cables are not ready for primetime, at least not in the way we expect our cables to be. While they’re great at curling up neatly, they’re terrible at charging and/or data transfer. Hollister tested three different versions of these magnetic coiling cables, and all three had something wrong with them. One was great at charging, but wouldn’t connect a Pixel to a computer whatsoever; another would disconnect with the slightest touch, and charged very slowly to boot; the last was the best balance, but that meant slow charging and slow connections, just without the risk of disconnection.

In fact, Hollister’s favourite cable to report on wasn’t in this type of coiling style at all. He points out a folding, accordion-style magnetic cable that charged decently quickly and felt well-made. If you’re interested in one of these cables, based on Hollister’s experience, I’d say go for the accordion or, if you really want the original “self-winding” design, a SuperCalla.

It’s frustrating these cables aren’t the whole package right now, but, honestly, that’s OK. It’s a new tech, and the fact so many third-party companies are trying their hand at it is encouraging. Someone’s going to crack the code here, and figure out a way to make a cable that not only folds well, but charges super quick and provides stable, speedy data transfer.

Until then, it remains true you can buy a cable that won’t leave your backpack tangled beyond recognition. As someone who hates untangling cables, and who doesn’t do much wired data transfer these days, I’m certainly tempted to pick one up, even if its main purpose is to be a neat party trick.

[The Verge]


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