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30Sep/190

Elon Musk hopes SpaceX’s Starship will reach orbit in six months

Production for the Super Heavy booster won't start until Mk4 is complete, Musk added.

Despite that, crewed flight might come sooner than you think. SpaceX wants to pursue heavy reusability, to the extent that one Starship could fly "three or four times a day" while the booster could fly "20 times." That could help it prove the feasibility of the technology quickly and put people on rockets as soon as 2020. SpaceX had previously aimed for commercial service by 2021 and its lunar tourist trip by 2023, and those goals would be more realistic with humans flying a year earlier.

Of course, there's a lot that needs to go smoothly for this to happen, including an "exponentially" improved manufacturing process that, among other things, will use near-seamless rings of steel for the chassis instead of numerous welded plates. Musk is well-known for optimistic predictions, including his original hope that Falcon Heavy would fly in 2013. Don't be surprised if there are delays. SpaceX has advanced considerably since its early days, though, and it's evident that Musk doesn't want Starship to spend years in testing Limbo.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/spacex-starship-flight-plans/

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30Sep/190

The best USB-C cables and adapters

*These cables and adapters were all rated by their manufacturers and confirmed in our testing for 60 W; however, most USB-A devices are limited to around 15 W (though some proprietary fast-charging protocols can exceed that).

USB-C–to–C cable for charging and fast data transfer

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why we love it: Anker's PowerLine II USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Cable can do it all. It meets USB-C specifications, like all cables we considered for this category (cables that violate these specs can possibly fry devices). As long as you're using the right charger, it supports up to 5-amp/100-watt charging, so it'll charge any USB-C device, even a 15-inch MacBook Pro, at maximum speeds. And with USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds of up to 10 Gbps, it moves data as fast as a non-Thunderbolt USB-C port will currently allow—that's fast enough to transfer a full-length HD movie file in about 3 seconds. It feels sturdy and well-built, comes with a handy Velcro fastener, and has a lifetime warranty backed by a company we trust. Plus it's USB-IF certified—meaning that it meets a set of criteria designed by the USB Implementers Forum, a nonprofit company run by Apple, Intel, Microsoft, and other tech giants.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It's more expensive than most USB-C cables, though most of the cheaper ones either can't transfer data at high speed, aren't rated for 100 W charging, or have a shorter warranty. It's also only 3 feet long, but since you'd likely be using this type of cable to connect a laptop to a storage drive, dock, or monitor—and not reaching from your nightstand to your bed, for example—we don't think it's a dealbreaker.

Key specs:

  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer rates (up to 10 Gbps)
  • 5-amp and 100-watt charging
  • 3 feet long

For charging phones, tablets, and laptops

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The Anker PowerLine II USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Cable supports USB 2.0 data transfer speeds and carries power up to 60 W (we confirmed this in our testing), which is all you need for charging a USB-C phone, USB-C tablets (including the new iPad Pro), and most most laptops short of the 87 W 15-inch MacBook Pro. It's USB-IF certified, and it's backed by Anker's lifetime warranty. The 6-foot length is convenient for charging while sitting on a couch or in bed.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: As mentioned above, this cable's data transfer speeds are limited to USB 2.0. If you want a faster cable, you'll have to give up length, as top data speeds are only available on cables 3 feet long and shorter. But for charging your smartphone or laptop, an affordable cable with reliable charging capabilities is all you need, and this one fills the bill. It won't charge a large laptop, like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, at full speed though. Our next pick will, and it's often cheaper than the Anker, but it is a bit bulkier and has a shorter warranty, so most people who don't have a 15-inch Pro should get this one.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • 3-amp and 60-watt charging
  • 6 feet long (also available at 3 feet)

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The Cable Matters USB-C to USB-C Charging Cable is rated for 100 W charging, so it can recharge laptops like the 15-inch MacBook Pro, which comes with an 87 W charger, at full speed. At 6.6 feet, it's as long as any cable we tested in this category. It's USB-IF certified and has a one-year warranty backed by a company we trust. It performs just as well as Apple's 6.6-foot and 3.3-foot MacBook Pro charging cables (which aren't USB-IF certified) but costs half as much, and it's often cheaper than the 60 W Anker charging cable we recommend above.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It only supports USB 2.0 data transfer speeds, it's a bit thicker and bulkier than the 60 W Anker cable, and its warranty is shorter than the Anker's.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • 5-amp and 100-watt charging
  • 6.6 feet long

Thunderbolt 3 cable

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The Anker USB-C Thunderbolt Cable is rated for 100 W charging, so it'll charge the 15-inch MacBook Pro or any high-powered laptop. It's Thunderbolt 3 capable, so although it looks like any other USB-C–to–USB-C cable (aside from the Thunderbolt logo on each end), it can transfer data up to 40 Gbps between supported devices. In our data transfer tests, we confirmed that the cable supports top speeds—on average, 2,172 Mbps read and 937 Mbps write speeds (or 17.4 and 7.5 gigabits, respectively) when connected to our test SSD on a full-speed Thunderbolt 3 port—which is as fast as anything else we tested. Plus, its 18-month warranty was the best we saw in this category. When used with non-Thunderbolt USB-C devices, it functions as a USB-C cable that supports 100 W charging and USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer speeds.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The Anker USB-C Thunderbolt Cable is also shorter than we'd like—pretty much any cable less than 3 feet long is a thorn in our side—but in this case there's a practical reason. Sources like AppleInsider have reported that Thunderbolt 3 cables longer than 1.6 foot do not support top speeds. We tested Apple's 2.6-foot cable for comparison, and it performed no worse than any other Thunderbolt 3 cable in our tests. But just in case, we think you're better off getting this 1.6-foot cable.

Key specs:

  • Thunderbolt 3 data transfer rates (up to 40 Gbps)
  • 5-amp and 100-watt charging
  • 1.6 foot long

USB-A–to–USB-C cables and adapters

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: This is the cable we'd use if we wanted to connect a USB-C device (like a newer Android phone or a USB-C power bank) to a USB-A charging port—whether it's on a laptop like the MacBook Air, a wall charger or wall outlet, a car charger, or a battery pack with legacy ports. Belkin's USB-A to USB-C Charge Cable is USB-IF certified, has a lifetime warranty, and feels solidly built. We like that it has a relatively thin cable (even at 6 feet long) that can be coiled up compactly. In our testing, it reached its full 60 W charging potential, although that's overengineering—standard USB-A charging tops out at 15 watts, and even proprietary charging standards like QuickCharge that work over USB-A don't exceed 20 W or so.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because the Belkin USB-A to USB-C Charge Cable only supports up to USB 2.0 data transfer speeds (480 Mbps), it's not the best option for moving lots of data between devices. However, we were unable to find a faster cable that's both USB-IF certified and 6 feet or longer. It's not impossible to make such a cable—according to USB-IF, a USB-C cable of any length can be certified as long as it passes all performance tests. But it might be bulkier than most people would want. A rep at Anker told us that the company's engineers have found that a 6-foot cable with full USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds would just be too thick. Until we find a cable that supports USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer, is 6 feet or longer, and is USB-IF certified, we think the Belkin (which offers the latter two) is your best bet for charging.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • 3-amp and 60-watt charging
  • 6 feet long (also available at 5 feet long)
  • black, blue, pink, white color options

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The AmazonBasics USB Type-C to USB-A Cable is good for transferring data from a USB-C phone or storage device (such as a portable SSD) to a computer with a USB-A port because it supports up to 10 Gbps data transfer speeds. It's USB-IF certified, feels solidly built, and is backed by Amazon's one-year warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It would have been great to find a USB-A–to–USB-C cable that is USB-IF certified, is 6 feet or longer, and can transfer data at up to 10 Gbps (USB 3.1 Gen 2 speeds). We'll keep our eyes peeled for this elusive unicorn, but in the meantime the AmazonBasics is a fine option for fast data transfer between USB-A and USB-C devices. If you want a longer cable for charging, get our other pick in this category: the Belkin.

Key specs:

  • USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer rates (up to 10 Gbps)
  • 3-amp and 60-watt charging (though most USB-A ports are limited to 18 W max)
  • 3 feet long
  • black and white color options

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The Aukey USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapter is a simple (and cheap) way to connect an existing USB-A cable into a USB-C port. This is great if you've bought a laptop devoid of USB-A ports, like a MacBook Pro, and don't feel like immediately replacing every cable and flash drive you own. After testing a handful of these teeny-tiny adapters, we're confident that Aukey's is the best. It has a 24-month warranty, and its size and shape make it easy to grip for plugging and unplugging.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It's not USB-IF certified, but none of the ones we tested are. Otherwise it performed as well as we could have hoped.

Key specs:

  • USB 3.0 data transfer rates (up to 5 Gbps)
  • 3-amp and 60-watt charging
  • 0.3 inch thick
  • black, white, silver, space gray color options

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: If you prefer a short cable over a nub adapter, go with the AmazonBasics USB-C to USB 3.1 Gen 1 Adapter. The advantage of a cable over a nub is that it moves the connected USB-A cable or flash drive away from the computer a bit—about 6 inches in this case. That extra length and flexibility can make it easier to use certain accessories—especially those with fat plugs. This adapter is USB-IF certified, it performed well in our testing, it supports USB 3.1 Gen 1 (which is another way of saying USB 3.0) data transfer, plus it's the least expensive model we tested.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: AmazonBasics's adapter had the shortest warranty (one year) of any we tested. But we've had good experiences with the company's customer service otherwise.

Key specs:

  • USB 3.0 data transfer rates (up to 5 Gbps)
  • 6.3 inches long

Micro-USB–to–USB-C cable

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: The AmazonBasics USB Type-C to Micro-B 2.0 Cable is a functional length (3 feet) for something that more often than not will be used for charging a USB power bank, older Android phone, wireless mouse or keyboard, or a pair of wireless headphones from a computer. It's available in 6-inch and 6-foot lengths as well, though we didn't test those. It reached full charging and USB 2.0 data transfer speeds in our testing and has a nicely built, slim design. It's USB-IF certified and backed by Amazon's one-year warranty, and it's about half the price of comparable cables.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: This isn't the prettiest cable we've seen.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • 3 feet long (also available in 6-inch and 6-foot lengths)
  • black and white color options

Micro-USB–to–USB-C adapter

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: Aukey's Type C To Micro USB Adapters are not much bigger than a fingernail but let you charge your USB-C devices using the Micro-USB cables you already have around. Because they're a bit chunkier than others we tested, they feel better to plug and unplug. The adapters performed just a hair better than the next-best adapter (Anker's version), and the 24-month warranty was the best of any we considered.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: We would have liked this adapter to have a USB-IF certification, but no company we know of has bothered to certify this kind of accessory.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • ⅖ inch thick

USB-C–to–Lightning cable

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: USB-C–to–Lightning cables allow you to charge iPhones (8/8 Plus or later) and most iPad Pros (excluding the newest model, which charges via USB-C) at much faster speeds than the stock charger when paired with a high-speed USB-C charger. Although our equipment doesn't yet let us test the internal capabilities of any USB-C–to–Lightning cables, we did a head-to-head comparison of two MFi-certified options—the Anker PowerLine II and Apple's version—and we prefer the Anker. Its rubber sheath is thicker than the one encasing the Apple cable, yet flexible and compact enough to easily stow in a pocket or pouch. Unlike Apple's cables, the plastic housings that join the metal connectors to the Anker cable seem sturdy and robust—built to withstand bending or fraying, even with frequent use. And its MFi-certified status means that it meets Apple's standards to ensure optimal performance with its devices—from iPhones to Magic Trackpads—in terms of charging and data-transfer capabilities. Although you can buy unlicensed third-party options, we chose not to consider them. Since they might not be fully compatible with Apple devices, you risk the cable fitting incorrectly, overheating, and damaging the cable, device, or both; now that there are MFi-licensed third-party cables available, there's even less reason to consider a cable that isn't.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: While the official Apple cable comes in 3.3- and 6.6-foot versions, Anker's 3- and 6-foot cables are a bit shorter.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) fast charging
  • 3 feet long (also comes in a 6-foot version)

Three-in-one (Micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning) cable

Photo: Sarah Kobos

Why you might prefer it: A three-in-one cable is, essentially, a USB-A–to–Micro-USB cable with Lightning and USB-C adapters attached by short tethers. While we don't recommend using them on a daily basis because they're limited to slow data speeds and the adapters can be a pain, we do think they can be handy for travel, or as a backup you can throw in your desk drawer. Of the ones we tried, the Anker Power Line II 3-in-1 Cable was the clear winner. It's MFi-certified, it got top marks in our power draw and data transfer tests (like every three-in-one cable we tested, it only supports USB 2.0 data speeds), and it seems well made. It has a slim cable that's easy to coil up and stow in a bag, and its adapters were the easiest to plug and unplug—the other ones we tried were fussy and difficult to wrangle. It was the only model we tested that did not have some kind of continuity, signal integrity, or DC resistance error when we ran it through Total Phase's Advanced Cable Tester. And it's backed by Anker's lifetime warranty.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: In theory, the three-in-one cable is a convenient, compact alternative to carrying around three individual cables. But in practice we found all of them cumbersome to use—an inelegant solution to addressing different standards and legacy connectors. But if you regularly use all three specs (Micro-USB, USB-C, and Lightning) and hate carrying around three different cables, this is a decent option. We wish its rubber adapter tethers were easier to maneuver and built more sturdily—we fear that they'd break after repeated use—but none of the models we tested impressed us in this regard. This cable's slim, compact design and good overall performance make it the best of the worst.

Key specs:

  • USB 2.0 data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps)
  • Up to 5 V and 3 A charging (15 W)
  • 3 feet long
  • black and white color options

Notable competitors

USB-C–to–USB-C cables for charging phones, tablets, and laptops up to 60 W

AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 Cable

This cable worked fine in our testing, but had an F rating on Fakespot the last time we checked, and some reviewers say it stopped working after about a month and a half.

AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Cable

This cable performed similarly to our pick (the Anker Powerline II USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Cable) in terms of power-draw and data transfer speeds, but its plastic housings feel flimsier and its warranty is shorter—one year compared with a lifetime.

Anker Powerline USB-C to USB-C 2.0 Cable (6 feet)

This used to be our pick in this category, but unlike our current pick, also an Anker, it's not USB-IF certified.

Belkin MIXIT DuraTek USB-C Cable

This cable performed about the same as our Anker pick in our power-draw and data transfer tests. It has a pretty good (five-year) warranty, and we really like the braided fabric encasing the cable. But we do not care for the ridges between the smooth and matte sections of the cable housings—they feel inelegant—and it costs more than double that of every other cable we tested.

Google USB-C to USB-C Cable (USB 2.0)

This is the standard-issue cable that ships with the Google Pixel 2. It's fine, but we didn't consider it for testing, since it costs so much more than other contenders.

USB-C–to–USB-C cables for charging MacBook Pro and other high-powered laptops

Apple USB-C Charge Cable (6.6 feet)

This was our former pick in this category, but it's not USB-IF certified. Plus, our current pick (from Cable Matters) costs a fraction of this one and is just as good.

Apple USB-C Charge Cable (3.3 feet)

This cable, launched in October 2018, is half the length and twice the price of our Cable Matters pick, and it's not USB-IF certified. While its slim design makes it more compact and portable than our pick, it feels notably underbuilt compared with the competition—it's as slim as Apple's standard Lightning cable and has less reinforcement at the cuff, and it seems as likely to break.

Moshi Integra USB-C Charge Cable and Moshi Integra USB-C Charge Cable with Smart LED

These cables performed just as well as the Cable Matters in our power-draw and data-transfer tests, and we like their luxe look and feel. But neither Moshi cable is USB-IF certified, and they are about double and triple the price, respectively, of the Cable Matters.

USB-C–to–USB-C cables with 100 W charging and USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer

Nekteck USB-C to USB-C 3.1 Gen 2 Cable (10Gbps/100W)

This cable earned full marks in all of our tests, and at 3.3 feet it's even longer than our pick, the Anker. However, we don't like the rough texture of its plastic housings—we find them to be a bit clunky in general—and its warranty (one year) doesn't stand up to Anker's lifetime warranty.

J5Create USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-C Coaxial Cable

This cable is slightly shorter than our pick (2.3 feet to Anker's 3-foot cable) and has only a one-year warranty, whereas the Anker has a lifetime warranty.

Thunderbolt 3 cables

Belkin 60W Thunderbolt 3 Cable and Belkin 100W Thunderbolt 3 Cable

These cables performed about as well as Anker's version in our tests, and they're both backed by two-year warranties—the Anker's is 18 months. Anker's cable is also more widely available, though, and we think the matte finish of its housings makes it look and feel more luxe than the Belkin models.

Apple Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) Cable

This cable performed no worse than Anker's in our testing, but it has a shorter warranty (one year) and costs more. Plus, according to sources like AppleInsider, any Thunderbolt 3 cable longer than 1.6 foot (like this one, which is 2.6 feet) won't provide top speeds.

USB-A–to–USB-C cables

AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-A 2.0 Cable

This cable is similar to our Belkin pick in that it's a good (6-foot) length, it's USB-IF certified, it performed well in our power-draw tests, and it only gets up to USB 2.0 speeds. Unlike the Belkin, though, it has a short one-year warranty and somewhat flimsier housings.

Anker Powerline USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable (3 feet)

Our former pick in this section, this cable was ousted in our latest round of testing for not being USB-IF certified. Our new picks, the AmazonBasics and Belkin, both have this certification and performed as well or better than the Anker in our testing.

Anker Powerline USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable (6 feet)

This cable is a nice length (6 feet), it has a great look and feel, and it achieved full USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer speeds (10 Gbps) in our testing. But, in addition to not being USB-IF certified, the Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester reported DC resistance and signal-integrity errors in our testing.

Anker Powerline USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable (10 feet)

This 10-foot cable was the longest we tested this round. Unfortunately, it's not USB-IF certified, it only got up to about 5 Gbps in our testing (USB 3.0 data transfer speeds), and it had DC–resistance and signal-integrity errors when we ran it through the Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester. Also, due in part to its impressive length, it's extremely bulky.

Anker PowerLine+ USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable

This USB-C–to–USB-A cable performed well in our tests, and its braided cable makes it a bit sturdier than our picks. But it's not USB-IF certified and, as electrical engineer Lee Johnson demonstrated for our guide to Lightning cables, we don't think most people need such a rugged design.

Aukey USB-C to USB 3.0 Cable

This cable performed well in our power-draw tests, and it achieved full USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer speeds. But it isn't USB-IF certified, it's only 3.3 feet long, and the Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester reported a signal-integrity error in our testing.

Belkin 3.1 USB-A to USB-C Cable

This cable is similar to our Belkin pick in this category, but it's not USB-IF certified and tends to cost about twice or three times as much.

Google USB-C to USB-A Cable

The build quality of this cable is really nice: It is exceptionally thin, has a strain-relief collar to help prevent breakage over time, and has a built-in plastic clip keeps the cable coiled when it's not in use. But it's not USB-IF certified, it gets the slowest possible (USB 2.0) data transfer speeds, and it's only 3.2 feet long—we couldn't find a cable that meets all three criteria, but our AmazonBasics and Belkin picks both excel at two of the three.

Monoprice Essentials USB-C to USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 Cable

This cable performed well in our tests, it's USB-IF certified, it has the improved data-transfer speeds of USB 3.1 Gen 2, it has a lifetime warranty, and it costs a fraction of the price of some of the other USB 3.1 Gen 2 cables we tested. However, it doesn't have a particularly rugged or streamlined design, and it's only available to buy on Monoprice's own website, which charges shipping fees. If those drawbacks don't bother you, though, it's a good alternative to our AmazonBasics pick.

Moshi Integra USB-C to USB-A Charge Cable

This cable had decent charging abilities, it's a good (5-foot) length, and it has a nice-looking braided fabric encasing it. However, it's only capable of USB 2.0 data transfer speeds, and it's not USB-IF certified. It's also about double the cost of our picks.

Startech 2.0 USB-A to USB-C Cable

This cable is probably the most similar to our Belkin pick of those we tested: It's 6 feet long, USB-IF certified, earned good marks in our power-draw tests, and only gets up to USB 2.0 speeds. But even though it costs about the same as the Belkin, it's not as nice to look at and feels cheaper.

USB-A–to–USB-C adapters (nub style)

Kanex's USB Type C-to-USB Adapter, iXCC's USB-C to USB 3.0 Converter, and Nonda's USB-C to USB 3.0 Adapter all performed well but are too fat and clunky, making it basically impossible to fit two plugs into side-by-side ports. Rankie's USB-C to USB-A 3.0 Adapter felt cheaply built compared with the others we tested.

USB-A–to–USB-C adapters (short cable style)

Among Anker's USB-C to USB 3.1 Adapter, Aukey's USB C to USB 3.0 Cable Adapter, iXCC's USB Type C to USB 3.0 Type A Adapter, and Moshi's USB-C to USB-A Adapter, none are USB-IF certified.

Monoprice Essentials USB Type C to USB-A Extension Cable

This adapter was one of the top contenders in this category. Like our pick, it supports USB 3.0 data transfer and it's USB-IF certified. But its housings are a little bulkier than our pick's, and it's only available to buy on Monoprice's website, which charges for shipping and is less convenient for most people.

Micro-USB–to–USB-C cables

Belkin 2.0 USB-C to Micro-USB Charge Cable

This cable performed just as well as our pick (the AmazonBasics) in our testing, and like our pick it's USB-IF certified. At 6 feet long, it's also twice the length of our pick, and it has a two-year warranty, which is double that of our pick. But it had a DC–resistance error when we ran it through the Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester, it's about twice the price of the AmazonBasics, and it's thicker and bulkier.

Micro-USB–to–USB-C adapters

Anker USB-C to Micro-USB Adapter

This adapter matched our pick, the Aukey, in price and performance, but we think its slimmer design makes it harder to use and easier to lose. It also has an 18-month warranty, whereas the Aukey's is 24 months.

JSAUX USB-C to Micro-USB Convert Connector

This adapter performed abysmally in our power-draw tests—2.3 watts compared with 7.4 watts by the Anker and Aukey adapters. We also think the little built-in plastic loops and silver chains (designed to attach the adapters to a keychain) are impractical and tacky.

Three-in-one (Micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning) cables

Monoprice USB-A to Micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning Cable

This cable was a close second to our pick, the Anker. Like our pick, it is MFi-certified and 3 feet long, and it has a lifetime warranty. It has a nice, slim design, making it compact and portable—which is key, since we really only recommend three-in-one cables as a travel or backup option. We also felt that its adapters were the easiest to plug in and unplug of any we tried. Its downfall was a series of errors (both in signal integrity and continuity) in our Total Phase tests, whereas our pick had none.

Nomad USB-A to Micro-USB, USB-C, Lightning Cable

Like our pick, this cable is MFi–certified and passed all of our data transfer and power-draw tests. At 5 feet long, it's 2 feet longer than our pick, yet it's still fairly compact. Its braided fabric sheath and rubber cable keeper are nice touches. But this cable's plastic housings were the worst of any we tried—plugging and unplugging them feels like doing battle with an unyielding opponent. Plus, the Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester reported a DC–resistance error.

How we picked and tested

Before beginning our initial round of testing in 2015, we consulted with Nathan K., a volunteer with the Top Contributor Program at Google. He's an independent tester who has worked with Benson Leung, a famed (in these circles) Google engineer who first brought to light potential issues with USB-C accessories that didn't conform to USB-C specifications.

In our latest round of testing, we used an Advanced Cable Tester from Total Phase (a fancy $1,500 piece of equipment) to scrutinize the wiring and signal integrity, DC resistance, and compliance with USB-C specifications of every cable we tested. We also used it to double-check our other data transfer speed and power-draw measurements.

The Total Phase Advanced Cable Tester lets us find out which cables are built properly and what they can handle. Photo: Nick Guy

To test the data transfer capabilities of the USB-C–to–USB-C cables for phones, tablets, and laptops up to 60 W, we plugged one end of each cable into a Samsung T3 Portable SSD (not our current portable SSD pick, but still one of the fastest drives available with a USB-C connection) and the other end into a 2016 13-inch MacBook Pro with four Thunderbolt 3 ports. We then ran a free system-performance app called AJA System Test Lite on the laptop to measure read/write speeds in MB/s. To test power draw, we used the 13-inch laptop, a Satechi ammeter, and a first-generation Google Pixel, and we noted the maximum power-draw readings on the ammeter as well as on the laptop's System Report.

To test the data transfer capabilities of USB-C–to–USB-C cables with USB 3.1 Gen 2 data transfer and 100 W charging, we plugged one end of each cable into a Samsung T3 and the other end into a 2017 15-inch MacBook Pro and ran AJA System Test Lite. To test power draw, we used the 15-inch laptop, the ammeter, and Apple's 87W USB-C Power Adapter, and noted the maximum power-draw readings on the ammeter as well as the laptop's System Report.

To test the data transfer capabilities of Thunderbolt 3 cables, we plugged one end of each cable into a LaCie Bolt 3 (a desktop SSD with Thunderbolt 3 ports) and the other end into the 13-inch MacBook, and ran AJA System Test Lite. To test power draw, we used the 13-inch laptop, the ammeter, and Apple's 61W USB-C Power Adapter, and noted the maximum power-draw readings on the ammeter as well as the laptop's System Report. To test USB-C–to–USB-C cables for the MacBook Pro and other high-powered laptops, we used the same methods but with the Samsung T3 instead of the LaCie Bolt 3.

To test the data-transfer capabilities of the USB-C–to–USB-A cables, we plugged the USB-C end into the 13-inch laptop and the USB-A end into an Aukey USB-A–to–USB-C adapter. We then plugged the adapter into the Samsung T3 and ran AJA System Test Lite. To test power draw, we used the ammeter, the Pixel, and our favorite travel-size multiport USB wall charger (the Anker PowerPort 2) and noted the maximum power-draw readings on the ammeter.

To test USB-C–to–USB-A adapters, we plugged the USB-C end into the 13-inch laptop and the USB-A end into a SanDisk Extreme CZ80 16GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive and ran AJA System Test Lite. To test USB-C–to–Micro-USB adapters, we plugged the Micro-USB end into our favorite USB-A–to–Micro-USB cable (Anker's PowerLine Micro USB) and the Anker Powerport 2. We then plugged the USB-C end into the ammeter and the Pixel and noted the maximum power-draw readings on the ammeter. To test three-in-one cables, we ran all three adapters (Lightning, Micro-USB, and USB-C) through the equivalent data transfer and power-draw tests for each connector type.

We describe how we've historically tested Lightning cables in our full guide. But at the time of testing, Apple's official cable had to be our USB-C–to–Lightning pick by default, since Apple didn't license the Lightning connector for use with third-party USB-C accessories, and we chose not to consider unlicensed cables. However, at the CES 2019 trade show Belkin announced the first licensed third-party cable, so we'll test that soon. While other cables are available—and some even claim to be faster than Apple's cable—we think buying an unlicensed version that could potentially fit incorrectly, overheat, or damage your device (or the cable itself) is not worth the risk.

On every test we ran, we made each measurement three times per cable, unplugging the cable between measurements, and calculated the average. After collecting data on all the contenders, we considered other factors—USB-IF and MFi certifications, length, price, availability, brand reputation, warranty and customer support, ease of use, packability, and aesthetics—to make our final decisions.

What to look forward to

We are in the process of testing more MFi-certified USB-C–to–Lightning cables against our pick—including Anker's PowerLine+ II, a version of our current pick encased in fabric; a 3-foot cable from RAVPower; a 4-foot cable from Kanex; a 4-foot cable from Scosche; two 4-foot Belkin cables; two 3-foot cables (one encased in plastic, and one in fabric) from Griffin; a 3-foot ESR cable; and a 3-foot UGreen cable—and we will update this guide with our results as soon as we can. We'll continue to test other MFi-certified USB-C–to–Lightning cables as they become available.

We've been asked about a recommendation for a USB-C extender cable (like this or this), but we don't have one because they aren't permitted under USB-C specifications. For a cable like this to work properly, it (and your other cables or connectors) would need to have heavy-gauge power wires, which would make the cable thick, inflexible, and expensive. However, we'll keep an eye on the category and update this guide if anything changes.

We also don't recommend any adapters that purport to add a MagSafe–like capability to existing USB-C charging cables. Like many MagSafe proponents, we were disappointed when Apple started phasing out this feature a few years ago. But we don't think the smattering of adapters that have since come out—from companies such as Griffin and Leonis—have succeeded at extending the golden age of MagSafe. The ones we've seen are inelegant, leaving a little (or not so little) nub sticking out of the side of a laptop when the cable is disconnected. We're waiting on a more reliable, sleeker version of these adapters to surface before testing.

If you didn't find what you were looking for here, check out the rest of our guides to the best USB-C accessories.

This guide may have been updated by Wirecutter. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, Wirecutter and Engadget may earn affiliate commissions.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/the-best-usb-c-cables-and-adapters/

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30Sep/190

Google faces scrutiny from Congress, DOJ over plans to encrypt DNS

The House sent a letter on September 13th asking if Google would use data handled through the process for commercial purposes. Google has maintained that its Chrome tweaks would give users control over who shares their info, and that it won't force people to switch to encrypted DNS.

That likely won't allay telecoms' fears. Internet service providers are worried that they may be shut out of the data and won't know as much about their customers' traffic patterns. This could "foreclose competition in advertising and other industries," an alliance of ISPs told Congress in a September 19th letter.

Google might not have much to worry about, though, as it's not the only one pushing for the same encryption. Mozilla also wants to use the format to secure DNS in Firefox, and the company's Marshall Erwin told the WSJ that the antitrust gripes are "fundamentally misleading." ISPs are trying to undermine the standard simply because they want continued access to users' data, Erwin said. Unencrypted DNS helps them target ads by tracking your web habits, and it's harder to thwart DNS tracking than cookies and other typical approaches.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/congress-doj-scrutinze-google-encrypted-dns/

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30Sep/190

Rockstar isn’t making single-player DLC for ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’

The stance isn't a complete shock when GTA5 hasn't had any significant single-player expansions during its lifespan. It's a sharp contrast with the original Red Dead, though. The original game had its share of multiplayer updates, but its best-known downloadable content was the Undead Nightmare expansion with a zombie-focused solo campaign. That kind of DLC doesn't even appear to be in the cards for RDR2, at least for now.

There's a strong incentive to cater to the multiplayer crowd -- that's where the money is. Rockstar and its publisher Take Two are making loads of cash through both GTA Online and Red Dead Online, and RDO has been growing faster than its predecessor. A devotion to multiplayer content could keep the games profitable for years to come. Unfortunately, that's not much consolation to people who'd rather not run into other players while they're engrossed in a game's storyline.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/no-red-dead-redemption-2-single-player-dlc/

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30Sep/190

Tesla’s first major V3 Supercharger rollout is taking place in Canada

This is an unusual focus for Tesla when it tends to serve the US first, but it makes sense given the realities of Canadian driving. It's a more sparsely populated country with longer stretches between cities than you see stateside. Electric car drivers not only face a dearth of chargers for cross-Canada trips, they may have to spend hours of extra time waiting to recharge. The V3 stations could both provide vital coverage for long trips and ensure that Tesla drivers less time parked.

The timing of the news is convenient. VW's Electrify Canada (a sibling to Electrify America) just opened its first fast EV charging station as part of a plan to install 32 sites in the four most populous provinces (Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia). Tesla is effectively one-upping its rival by not only outlining a larger network, but promising that most of those stations will recharge at a breakneck pace. Not that this is much help for Americans Tesla owners. For once, they'll have to be more patient than their northern brethren.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/tesla-first-major-v3-supercharger-rollout-in-canada/

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30Sep/190

Switch Lite added to class action lawsuit over controller drift

The lawsuit accused Nintendo of fraud and warranty law violations, misrepresentation, breaching implied warranties and unjust enrichment. It's pushing for both financial penalties as well as further relief, although Nintendo is believed to be offering free repairs for the issue.

As Gizmodo explained, Switch Lite owners may be even more frustrated with controller drift than those who own the standard console. Where regular Switch owners affected by the issue might only have to ship the defective Joy-Cons for repairs, Lite users have to send their entire system -- and it might take weeks to get a replacement. The addition of the Lite to the lawsuit theoretically pushes Nintendo to fix this problem before too many buyers have to deal with it.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/switch-lite-class-action-lawsuit-controller-drift/

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30Sep/190

State Department revives investigation of Clinton’s private emails

Anonymous State Department officials talking to the Post denied that this was prompted by President Trump, who frequently attacked Clinton's use of private email during his 2016 election campaign and has continued to talk about it in the three years since. The email review has been going on since the Obama administration, they said, and has avoided "any appearance of political bias" through steps such as anonymizing the names of the subjects involved.

However, some dispute those claims of impartiality. The former assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, Jeffrey Feltman, said that the State Department sent him a warning for emails sent after his 2012 retirement. There's also no sign at this stage that the emails in question included references to classified info. It's also an unusually strict level of scrutiny for an administration that has been accused of numerous security lapses, including weak phone security that allegedly lets China and Russia eavesdrop on Trump's calls.

It's not clear what action the State Department will take, if any, once the process is complete. This nonetheless suggests that you could hear a lot more about Clinton's emails in the near future, even if it's just as talking points.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/state-department-revives-investigation-of-clinton-email/

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30Sep/190

YouTube is ‘really happy’ with viewership for its live MLB games

This won't leave TV networks sweating bullets. Variety noted that Fox saw an average of just over 2.2 million viewers, and that's just for the US. YouTube's streams were available worldwide.

However, the internet company doesn't mind. It's "really happy with the success of the entire partnership," a spokesperson told Variety. And there may be good reason for that contentedness. Out of the 13 games, 11 were either daytime weekday games or started late for East coast audiences. They weren't must-watch battles. In that light, YouTube may have been doing well enough to justify the deal -- it just has to hope the MLB sees things the same way.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/youtube-happy-with-mlb-viewership/

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30Sep/190

Venezuela reportedly wants its central bank to hold bitcoin

The bank is likewise considering proposals to count cryptocurrencies toward international reserves that have plummeted in recent years.

It's not certain where Petroleos got the bitcoin and ethereum, let alone how much it has. There's also no guarantee that companies would accept such a move when crypto's relative anonymity and the potential for money laundering leads many other banks to hold off. That's not even including the potential for further trade restrictions. This is a Hail Mary effort to sustain Venezuela's economy (and thus the Maduro government), and it may ultimately amount to a risky experiment even if it goes ahead.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/venezuela-wants-central-bank-to-hold-bitcoin/

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29Sep/190

Algorithms help robot dogs trot more like real animals

Robot dogs can move efficiently, but not all that naturally -- and no, twerking doesn't count. Virginia Tech researchers think they can do better. They're developing a combination of algorithms and sensors that help robots move with gaits more like those of real animals. The system mimics the behavior of vertebrates, whose balance control comes largely from oscillating neurons in the spinal cord, using a combination of encoder sensors (to read relative positions for joints) and inertial measurement units (to measure the body's orientation relative to the ground). The result is a mechanical canine that can walk, run and trot with more grace and speed than usual.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/09/29/robot-dog-natural-movement-algorithm/

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