cables

Are all USB cables safe to use?

Episode 1482

Alan from West LA, CA
Anker USB Type-C Cable

Alan wants to know if all USB-C cables are created equal. Leo says they aren't. In fact, some cheaper models may end up bricking his phone! So he'll have to be careful. Type C cables are better built, and they also transfer data. In the end, he'll get what he pays for. Leo recommends braided cables. They last a lot longer and are about $10. Leo likes Anker. Alan should follow Benson Leung. He is really into testing cables.

Can I splice a cable to make it longer?

Episode 1446

Greg from Pasadena, CA
Logitech Extension Cable

Greg has a Logitech video conference system and he wants to know if he can make an extension cable based on the PS2 cable. He made one, but it says "USB device not recognized." Logitech's extension is too short and expensive. Leo says there's probably some circuitry bonded into the cable that it's looking for. He may want to try splicing in additional cable in the original. He'll be destroying it, but it may work. He may also need to deal with DRM Copy Protection. But if the circuitry is on either end and he's splicing in more cable in the middle, he may be good to go.

Dick DeBartolo, The Giz Wiz

Episode 1400

Dick DeBartolo

This week's gadget is from MEEM and it's a fresh new take on smartphone back up. It's a phone charger cable that automatically backs up personal data on a smartphone to the cable. It does that every time the phone is charged. With people using phones more and more for high quality photos and video and quick text communications, a phone’s storage fills up quickly with precious content and the more personal information stored, the higher the anxiety of losing or having that data stolen is. With MEEM, backing up your smartphone is a simple solution that fits into a daily routine.

Scott Wilkinson on Home Theater

Episode 1400

Scott Wilkinson

Leo and Scott talk about cleaning out and organizing the "techno spaghetti factory" that is wiring coming from all home theater stuff. There was also a lot of dust built up and Scott says it's a good idea to clean out that cruft at least once a year and use IEC standard power cables to keep everything consistent. Leo likes banana plugs, and Scott agrees, but many people don't like them because they tend to be easier to disconnect. They make it easy to swap out other tech, though.

Can an HDMI signal degrade?

John from Kingsford, MI

Episode 1270

John has an HDMI switcher and is concerned that it will degrade the signal. Leo says it won't though. Digital signal either works or doesn't, and there's no degrading of the signal. What about juttering? Leo says that is likely coming from a bandwidth issue. It's likely the satellite connection. One issue could be distance. If he has a really long HDMI cable, it could cause weird artifacting and juttering. That's where a higher quality cable comes in handy.

How can I get the perfect length of cable for my security cameras?

Episode 1251

David from Laguna Nigel, CA
Nest Cam

David wants to install some security cameras, but he doesn't want to pay for a cable length he doesn't need. How can he do that? Leo suggests going with a wireless camera setup. If he wants to create cables, instead of buying cables that are too long or short, he can build his own with attachments and a few key tools. But wireless is the way to go and most cameras use that. Axis has good wired cameras. Nest cameras are good for wireless.

Why does my iPad give me a warning message that my charging cable isn't supported?

Carl from Corona, CA

Episode 1242

Carl got a cheap $2 charging cable for his iPad online, and now he's getting a message on his iPad that it isn't supported. Leo says that Apple has a proprietary cable for syncing data and charging devices. Leo suspects he'd probably be able to charge his iPad with that cable just fine, but he won't be able to sync the data. When buying a cable, he should look for "MFi Certified." Those cables are made to work with Apple devices. Apple licenses that cable technology, so he won't ever find an MFi Certified cable for cheap.

Why does my iPhone say an Apple charging cable isn't supported?

Tom from San Dimas, CA

Episode 1228

When Tom plugs his iPhone into an Apple charging cable, he gets an error message that says "this accessory is not supported." Leo says that the cable may be on the verge of breaking, and as such, the iPhone is showing the error message. It could also be a buildup of pocket lint that is causing the connection to be occluded. Chances are, however, that he just needs a new cable.

Tom should check out this thread on the Apple forums about this issue.

Could a bad USB cable cause my Mac to shut down?

Cynthia from Malibu, CA

Episode 1200

Cynthia plugged her iPhone into her laptop and when she did, it shut down her Mac. She was told that it could do that with a third party USB cable. Leo says it's not likely a compatibility issue, but it could be a short in the cable. What about a message that says "battery needs service?" Leo says that's more likely the issue as batteries do stop charging after about 500 recharge cycles. So Leo believes the shut down was coincidental. Getting a new battery should solve that problem.