When Apple announced its slender, pixel-packed new MacBook last month, it ushered in the era of USB-C, the next-generation port that handles all your charging and connectivity needs. The only problem? Affordable USB-C cables hadn’t yet been ushered in along with it. Today that changes, with budget monolith Monoprice selling an array of affordable options.
It’s an important step even if you have no intention of buying Apple’s low-powered, gold-optional MacBook. USB-C will become the standard across most platforms; it’s already made an appearance in Google’s recent Chromebook Pixel refresh. Which is good! USB-C offers a bevy of benefits over the USB connections that we use today, including bi-directional charging (which is why it could replace MagSafe in the MacBook) and double the data transfer speeds. It’s also, crucially, reversible, meaning no more frustrating jabs at ports. It’s undeniably the future, and the future is very bright.
The present, though, has been dimmed by the lack of available USB-C cables that let you actually take advantage of all of those features. So far you’ve been stuck with Apple’s overpriced offerings, including a $29 USB-C to USB-C cable, a $19 USB-C to USB adapter, and a pair of $79 multiport adaptors. In fact, Apple doesn’t even currently offer a USB-C to USB cable, which makes charging all of your existing gear more complicated and frustrating than anyone deserves. For that, your only hope so far has been a $20 Belkin offering that was announced in March but is still listed as “coming soon” on Belkin’s website.
If all of this sounds needlessly expensive and confusing, especially given how routine and essential the act of simply connecting two devices should be, that’s because it is. Enter Monoprice, longtime purveyor of surprisingly cheap accessories and gear. Its range of USB-C cables—there are six in all—have the twin benefits of being both inexpensive and, for the most part, available today. The Monoprice version of Belkin’s USB-C to USB cable, for instance, costs half as much, while the Monoprice USB-C to USB adaptor costs $12 to the Apple equivalent’s $19.
It’s also not like you’re risking much by going with the budget alternative. Not only does Monoprice have a well-earned reputation for quality, there’s only so much that can go wrong with a three-foot cable. Put another way: If Monoprice can turn out a serviceable action camera for a hundred bucks, it’s abundantly likely to produce cables that work as advertised.
As USB-C proliferates, you’ll have plenty more options available to you, including pack-in cables you don’t have to shell out extra for. For now, though, Monoprice isn’t just your best, cheapest bet; for some things, it’s your only one.