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The Length of USB Wires

March 27, 2012 at 10:22:00
Specs: Windows 7, 2.507 GHz / 4095 MB
For most of the life of my computer, I've had a pretty hum-drum workstation setup. Computer is relatively nearby, within a reasonable distance from the peripherals and monitor. Until recently.

I decided for purposes of defeating monitor glare to reposition my L-shaped workstation in my home office against the far wall - setting the monitor, keyboard and mouse the 90 degree angle of the crook in the "L" for easy arm resting and comfort factors. This means that the tower case is further away than it would normally be, and has lead to the sudden realization (and incredible aggravation) that not all USB cables for peripherals are created equal.

Some, like to the Philips webcam, are perfectly fine and make the distance happily. Others, like the Logitech mouse and Rosewill HDD dock leave much to be desired. As though there is a shortage at the USB cabling point in the manufacturing process, and the most they are content to give is a few precious inches of cable length to make the precarious distance between the USB port itself and a perch on the top of the desk. This leads to the occasional "clink" as USB cables wiggle their way out of their ports and the device goes dead.

Sure, I could get one of those fancy extenders or squid-style multi ports. But c'mon! Can't the manufacturers get together and resolve to give us at least a bit more? The length of some of the USB ports on these peripherals is inexcusable. Mini-USB for phones is fast becoming a standard for most smartphones - and in the same light, an industry accepted standard for a satisfactory length for peripheral cables could totally provide the same benefit to consumers sick of hearing Windows echo that "bunk!" when a device is unceremoniously dropped due to over-extension.

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March 27, 2012 at 15:09:20
Some printers & other devices now have networking abilities, so a cat5 cable or a wireless connection can be used instead. It's easier to fine a long cat5 than a long USB cable.

How do you know when a politician is lying? His mouth is moving.

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March 27, 2012 at 15:39:36
For a few some will be to short, for others some will be too long. The length is some times determined by technical considerations or cost, In general shorter is better.
I try to keep a few short extensions on hand for easy access to the rear connections.

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March 27, 2012 at 15:44:30

It seems from my experience that it is often the tendency of low end or budget conscious hardware providers to make the leads slightly shorter, but some more reputable brands are also guilty of this - I was on site with a batch of several hundred dell workstations last year that had peripheral leads so short that the position of desk PC cages had to be altered to accommodate them. No big deal if it's a single office, but for 300 odd workstations it added hours to the installation.

I think that it can also be an issue of packaging - some device leads, particularly those that come with cheap MP3 players and cameras seem to be incredibly short, but I think that this is simply to fit the hardware and accessories into as small a package as possible for shipping reasons.

Given the tendency of some manufacturers to ignore or only roughly comply with current standards I find it doubtful that the establishment of a new standard would completely solve the problem, but I agree that the existence of such a standard would at least promote the idea within manufacturing that there is a minimum acceptable standard and that those manufacturers that do not comply are delivering a "sub standard" product.

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March 27, 2012 at 22:41:48
I have a handfull of older usb extension cables. Don't remember how I got them but have had them for at least 8 years. I can hook them all together and plug in my Logitech web cam and go almost all over the house with it but hook up just one to my mouse, which could use another foot; and no go. I remember the first printer I bought, forget the brand but it was cheap; the cables for it were six feet long. The one I have now I doubt they are three feet long.


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