A Google engineer with something of an obsession with USB Type-C cables has finally paid the price. Benson Leung seriously damaged his laptop during his latest review.
Leung had become something of a cult hero for his online reviews of the cables. While most consumer reviews of a USB cable or adaptor are inherently limited to whether or not it works and if it is awkward or smooth to plug in, Leung would use his professional knowledge to go into intricate detail and make harsh but informed criticisms where appropriate.
In particular, Leung’s bugbear is cables that don’t meet the USB Type-C specification. He commonly finds problems with inadequate resistance which could cause performance issues or even damage when user with a charger or hub. The big issue is that many cheaply made Type-C cables are fine for transferring data, but insufficient when used for powering and charging.
In hindsight, the sheer number of reviews Leung did made his latest test result inevitable. In a review of a cable designed for connecting Type-A and Type-C sockets, he revealed that it had effectively fried both his Chromebook and two gadgets used for testing current and voltage.
The Chromebook suffered damage to an embedded controller, which managed USB charging among other tasks. That’s a big problem as the computer now notices the lack of response from the controller, assumes there’s a serious issues, and will only boot into recovery mode.
On analysing the cable, Leung found four major problems including an insufficient resistor that was set up the wrong way round, several missing wires, and two of the major wires being attached to the wrong pins on the plug.
The cable has now been withdrawn from sale. Unfortunately for Leung, the fault means that his latest review “will probably be the last one I do for a little while.”