26 February 2016

Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 2.0: A Safe, Well-Built USB A-to-C Cable

Last month, I had the opportunity to try out Anker's PowerLine+ Micro-USB cable, and I was very impressed by its quality, design, and thoughtful carrying pouch. It wasn't much good, however, for working with my USB-C-equipped Nexus 6P.

I was thrilled, then, when Anker offered me the opportunity to try out one of their USB A-to-C cables. (Yes, I was provided this cable for free in exchange for my fair and honest review. No, I didn't let that affect my impression of the product.) Anker does not yet sell a braided PowerLinePlus USB-C cable, but the Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 2.0 Cable does incorporate many of the same design features like Kevlar fiber reinforcement.

In typical Anker fashion, this PowerLine cable arrives in a simple and friendly box just large enough for the coiled cable and "Happy?" feedback card. Buying a cable from Anker means there's no frustrating plastic blister packaging to struggle with and, inevitably, cut yourself on (or is that just me?), nor is there any wasted material to throw away. The cable also includes a convenient and attractive micro hook-and-loop strap for cable wrangling.

Just like the PowerLine+ cable, this one has a very premium and durable feel to it. The round plug on the Type-C end was made using a deep-draw extrusion process, which means it is a single continuous piece of metal. Cheaper cables may use a stamping process with a joint or seam on one side, which could be a failure point. The connector is protected in a hard plastic shell, with a softer flexible material to reduce stress on the cable junction. The 3-foot length makes this cable much more versatile than the short A-to-C cable that came with my Nexus 6P while not being so long that it will quickly become a tangled mess. This cable may not be as flashy as the PowerLine+ line, it will get the job done all the same.

On that subject, it's important to note that this cable is really a compromise to make two generations of technology work together. A USB 3.0 Type-C device is capable of transferring data and charging more quickly than whatever you attach to the rectangular USB 2.0 Type-A end of this cable. The performance for either operation will be similar to what might be seen with an older device equipped with a Micro-USB port - noticeably slower than with a C-to-C cable or even an A-to-C cable with USB 3.0 support. That said, my Nexus 6P only supports USB 2.0 so this wasn't a big deal for me. Just make sure you select the right cable for your devices.

With that out of the way, this cable works just fine with Type-A chargers or the average USB port on a computer. Large files still transfer quickly enough, and my Nexus 6P charges from a Type-A port on my Anker PowerPort 5 USB-C charger at the same rate as with the A-to-C cable that Google included with the phone.

Most importantly, this cable is Benson-approved to fully comply with the USB specification. It is physically and electrically sound and will NOT cause damage to any USB devices. There may be cheaper cables out there but I wouldn't want to risk damage to my expensive phone or computer to save a few bucks. This is a ridiculously-good cable for the $9.99 asking price.

If you still have a bunch of Type-A chargers or a computer with USB 2.0 ports, the Anker PowerLine USB-C to USB 2.0 Cable would be a great choice.

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