First off, I’ve never used any other brand of cable for my iPods other than Apple, based on the last time I bought a third party cable, for one of my old Palms, it snapped.
I’ve got through three or four Apple USB cables over the past few years, ll of them eventually dying due to the cable seemingly being bent too much over time, always at the device end. One of them died, despite looking completely intact on the outside, the first died because the plastic/rubber coating over the wire had come away and it turns out taping it up only makes it worse (at least, with sticky tape it does, never tried electrical tape), and the third died for a similar reason to the second.
My fourth cable just died. It’s been visually on its last legs for several months, with the covering ’round the device end wearing back, and a crack in the covering at the USB end appearing. There I was, sitting at an old Compaq D310, happily running an OS that it shouldn’t have been capable of running given that it’s a PC, if you get my drift… 😉 and as the only USB ports are on the rear (plus I didn’t want to mess up the stability by putting in attaching front panel USB ports to the motherboard), I had an aprox. 10CM flexi-hold USB cable extension plugged into one of the rear ports, with my iPod sitting on top of the PC connected to the computer with the Apple USB cable and extension, plus there was a standard audio cable plugged into it going into my speaker setup. So, I pick up the iPod as I’m about to go to bed, and hear a *krzzzzzt* noise, which I’m fairly accustomed to what with the speakers hardly being connected in the most conventional manner. However, a blue flash in the corner of my eye isn’t typical. Well, only when I plug something into the wall extension leads . I look down at my hand, wondering what the smell is, and there’s the iPod, with the cable smoking away. Literally smoking away, without a care in the world, smelling, I guess like, you know those model N gauge trains with motors? Kind of like the smell of one of those burning out. So, naturally my first thought is “damn, now I’ve got to buy another cable”, with my second though being “thank goodness it’s stopped burning, I hope the iPod wasn’t damaged by a surge or anything” (doesn’t seem to have been).
I wish the cables were a bit longer-lasting 😦