Are those tangle-free USB cables worth it?

As long as there have been cables, there have been tangle. There’s nothing worse than reaching into your pocket or bag to grab your charging cable for your soon-to-be-dead smartphone, only to waste time, energy and sanity untangling the many knots. like an idiot. Well, stop being silly: cable manufacturers are starting to wake up, offering solutions to this age-old problem – with some unfortunate compromises.

Sean Hollister from The Verge dove into this new tangle-free cable market, 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 in on themselves, even if some are not necessarily up to the name “automatic” announced. The cables are made of flexible silicone, with small magnets placed strategically throughout, which results in a seamless coiling pattern when you bend them.

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

That’s the good news. The bad? These cables are do not ready for prime time, at least not in the way we expect our cables to be. While they’re great at curling up cleanly, they’re terrible at charging and/or transferring data. Hollister tested three different versions of these magnetically wound cables, and all three had Something wrong with them. One was excellent for charging, but wouldn’t connect any Pixels to a computer; another disconnected at the slightest touch and charged very slowly to start; the latter was the best balance, but it meant slow charging and slow connections, just without risk of disconnection.

In fact, Hollister’s favorite cable to report was not in this type of winding style at all. It points to an accordion-style folding magnetic cable that charged fairly 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 that these cables aren’t complete at the moment, but honestly, they’re fine. It’s a new technology, and the fact that so many third-party companies are trying it out is encouraging. Someone will crack the code here and figure out a way to make a cable that not only bends nicely but charges really fast and provides stable and fast data transfer.

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

[The Verge]

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