USB-C is a total dumpster fire

“The problem with USB-C is that the industry wanted it to do too much too quickly,” Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes for ZDNet. “While a port that can be used for data and charging is a good idea on, say, a smartphone or tablet, on a high-end laptop is brings with it a set of challenges, and creates endless port and cable confusion.”

“Equally, smashing together USB-C and Thunderbolt made sense on paper, but in the real world it ended up being confusing,” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “We wanted this single port to do too much.”

“The goal seems to be to transition from many cables through using a single cable, to going wireless. And in many ways modern smartphones have gone a long way to achieving this (if it weren’t for high-speed charging on the iPhone 8, I’d probably go wireless all the time),” Kingsley-Hughes writes. “But when it comes to tablets and laptops, that totally wireless future is a long way off…”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Charging is the only thing for which we’ve ever used a physical port on our MacBooks.

Of course, our MacBooks are our road Macs. We have external drive(s) physically attached to our desktop iMacs for backup.

29 Comments

    1. Tim Cook approved USB-C. Tim Cook is the all powerful techno wizard of the world. If Tim Cook says USB-C is good enough for Apple then you need to thank him for his impeccable decision. You, peasant, do not criticize Tim Cook, understanding?

    1. This is similar to the evolution across a range of computer i/o ports across the years – SCSI, VGA, DVI, ADB, USB-A, FireWire, DisplayPort, etc. Eventually the peripherals catch up to the new connectors and everyone is happy again for a little while.

      I can understand that this is more of a problem for professionals with lots of expensive peripherals. For regular users, you can get a multi-port USC-C dongle for $50 or less. I bought one for my daughter’s new MacBook Pro that has a USB-C, HDMI, Ethernet, and USB-A. Sure it is an added expense. But USB-C is very cool and will become ubiquitous in coming years.

      Why gripe and complain about progress? It doesn’t listen to you.

    2. I don’t mind the new port. What I mind is ditching all the other ports simultaneously. I’d love to ditch my late-2013 Mac Book Pro, but I’m not ditching my MagSafe power supply, my HDMI port, my USB-A ports, and my SD Card reader. I’ve never used a Thunderbolt port once. Especially that USB-A port. My wall outlets are all USB-A, my cars are all USB-A. MagSafe has saved my bacon more times than I can count. My camera uses an SD Card. My projector is HDMI. No Apple, replacing ALL the useful ports with one port at once and expecting me to buy dongles is a way to make me keep my money in my pocket. F#$% dongles.

  1. I use USB-C for connecting external SSD drives. Small, tiny, that dramatically outperform every external hard drive I’ve ever connected. I have 2 people who’ve dumped their MacPro setups for a new MacBook Pro with external 2 Terabyte USB-C SSDs and are now doing all their video editing that way. On the go, or connected via USB-C to large monitors.

    I no longer have non-USB-C peripherals.

    1. I have a lot of external drives that are less than two years old that I can’t connect without a dongle. Bought two new iMacs this summer, had to buy new dongles for convening to VGA because my not so old ones were the wrong size. All for progress, but don’t discard “new standards” that are not that old for new new standards.

        1. What about a fully working projector or display that does exactly what I need or the thousands displays or projectors in schools that fulfil their purpose? Should they be thrown away just because you feel it’s too 20th century? It’s the capitalist dream: is it STILL working?, it’s garbage. Consumerist dumbs… I had a fully functional iPhone 3GS, and it was a pain in the ass to use it because Apple decided I can’t install old apps and the new ones are not compatible, even if there’s no new feature added and they require iOS 8 or 9 or whatever. Is that too last century? Ok, so welcome to the garbage century

  2. Simple solution: when you buy a device say a phone, iPad, monitor, printer, HDD/SSD, or whatever have the manufacturer include a cable to connect to USB-C. And have manufacturers of tablets/computers include a “pass through” cable for charging.

    That’s the way to move quickly to new standards.

    1. Personally I always preferred Firewire which to this day has advantages that USB doesn’t offer. But whatever, Apple has been on the connector merry-go-round for as long as anyone can remember. USB-C was sold to be the end to the madness, and if it meets its technical promise, it is more than just a step in the right direction. It is where all personal electronics connectivity should be for the next decade or more.

      The problem as usual is that companies aren’t even trying to make the transition painless for the consumer. On the contrary, they are making the transition period to be adapter hell as bad as ever. Apple is one of the worst offenders. Like the transition from 30 pin to Lightning, Apple is slow and inconsistent. For an ecologically sensitive company, it is driving tons of cable waste into landfills.

      The richest corporation in history could have free cables and adapters in all its stores without even noticing the business costs. Give people a reason to be loyal: trade in any old Apple cable for a new USB-C cable. Actually, he additional foot traffic would probably boost sales of other accessories. You can never have too many overpriced glamour cases for your phone.

      When you buy your new iPhone 8, can you plug it into your new MacBook Pro? Someone in Cupertino needs to get a clue!

  3. Ok, this issue has really pi$$ed me off. I’m all for going to a single port, but this has not been done correctly. I can totally understand going completely wireless and/or completely USB-C, but even Apple doesn’t let you do that. For example, I just just bought a brand new MacBook Pro along with a (god awful barely functional) LG 5K monitor, a new Apple wireless keyboard and mouse, and have a new iPhone and iPad that I develop for. Great you say, wireless all around…except how do you charge the keyboard and mouse…oh, the cable Apple provides is USB-A. ($10 for the USB-A to USB-C dongle). Want to put that new app you’re testing onto your iPhone or iPad using the cable Apple provides? Nope, USB-A. You need a $29.00 USB-C to lightening cable. Forget the numerous Promise thunderbolt drives that we have kicking around ($50 for each of those thunderbolt to USB-C dongles). What the heck Apple?

    1. I was going to say the same thing. Apple still includes USB-A cables for all it’s things. GF got a new iMac with a USB-A cable for charging the wireless keyboard. Bought an Apple trackpad. Yep, USB-A again. Come on Apple. All these things should come with a USB-C cable or a choice. Once USB-C cables are everywhere instead of USB-A, then the complaints will die down, but Apple doesn’t seem to as full in on the USB-C thing as they pretend.

  4. Clickbait headline. No real information here.
    This is taking as long as most other new ports to become standard. (old & cheep always slows down new & more expensive adoption)

    Back to work for me – now where did I put that SCSI terminator?

    1. Yeah, it’s really no different from the current situation. That cable with The USB – A connector, is that for USB 1, USB 1, USB 3, USB 3.1? And, how much power does it deliver? No way of telling that either, without plugging it into something and seeing how fast it takes to charge.

      Although, for the angry masses that like to complain about things, i’m sure they took that clickbait in droves.

  5. I avoid USB whenever I can. I’ve had a lot of bad luck with USB cables and connectors. I use Thunderbolt to connect to an external monitor and 4TB drive. USB seems touchy. Sometimes I have to wiggle them to get them to work.

    We include Dell PCs with our product. When I visit customers and want to use a thumb drive to get data off of the machine I often have try multiple ports to get one to read the drive.

  6. It’s not a dumpster fire, it’s just a (relatively) brief transition period.

    There are things that could be done to make things smoother (including by Apple)…

    1) Jump in all the way, not half-assed. I would’ve liked to have seen Apple move all devices to USB-C including the iPhone, Apple TV, etc… It’s silly that Apple gives earbuds away that work with the new iPhones, but not with their new MacBooks.

    2) Provide more than one port on “master” devices. Having two ports on the MacBook would’ve made a huge difference (especially if it was one on each side).

    3) Ideally make all ports and cables fully compatible… Power Delivery and Thunderbolt… at least on “master” devices (like notebooks, desktops, etc…). Where cost/resource prohibitive, make sure the spec is more clearly defined in simple terms for consumers.

    4) Certification. Too many cheap-ass cables and peripherals exist for other standards as well. This should’ve been a time where inexpensive certification was available, but a high threshold for quality and capability needed to be met.

    A lot of this is going to be worked out over time, and really, it’s not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be.

    1. It is a dumpster fire, it’s just not a forest fire. By the time USB-C becomes ubiquiotous, it will be time to replace the first, second and maybe even third iterations of Apple’s newest MacBooks. Apple half-assed it definitely.

  7. Noone is forcing anyone to upgrade. However, I’ll take one multipurpose dongle over the mess of connector cables I used to need. Gradually peripherals will catch up and those old cables (and my one dongle) will disappear.

    I have a new MBPRo with 4 USBC ports. Fast. easy. One dongle for legacy A, HDMI and almost never used Ethernet. Just picked up USBC battery and external SSD.

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