Tangled Cables: an urban survival guide

They’re the bane of many digital lives: those pesky cables that are both completely essential and universally unloved. Anyone who’s ever carried a laptop, a mobile phone or a music player has experienced cable chaos, that moment when an impenetrable tangle makes you want to hurl the jumbled mess out of the train window. I’ve tried lots of solutions in the past, from elastic bands (they always snap), to Velcro ties (they snag your new cashmere sweater), to an old hairclip donated by my wife (that just looked weird). There’s a new breed of cables now coming to market that will hopefully bring an end to cable craziness like those on the Beats by Dr Dre. But they’re expensive so while you’re saving up here are some UsefulTechnology suggestions for a tangle-free existence:

WorldStores Cable Tidy, £0.99 eachimage
Cheap and functional. Works well ‘in line’ so any spare cable cab remain wrapped while in use. Only one size so only suitable for very thin cables. Rather spoiled though by the ugly URL printed on the cable tidy and limited choice of colours. Buy from Headphone World.

Proporta Silicone Cable Tidy, £4.95 eachimage
An odd looking creature but pleasantly soft to the touch and very lightweight. Only suitable for very thin cables and expensive for what it is. Available in three rather dull colours: green, black and transparent. Buy from Proporta.

Bobino, £1.99 eachimage
Simple, elegant, and colourful, you know where you stand with a Bobino. Just bend, wrap and go. Available in three sizes for different cables lengths and thicknesses. Buy from LazyboneUK or high street stores.

Proporta Headphone Cable Tidy, £4.95 for threeimage
A simple magnetic clasp that hooks around your already wound cable. Very quick and simple to use. Cable can still re-tangle itself if the clasp doesn’t grip tightly enough. Stephen Fry apparently likes them; make of that what you will. Buy from Proporta.

Vinyl Badge Clip, free from any event reception desk image

A clever recycling solution from Lifehacker! Plus it’s wearable so you can clip this to your clothing and look a proper geek at that important industry event. More info from Lifehacker.


The Winner:
Bobino just edges into pole position. They are cheap, colourful and effortlessly functional. And the range of sizes makes them adaptable for most portable cables including mains leads. Of course, the ideal solution would be to go completely wireless or own cables that don’t get tangled, but until that day comes a couple of Bobinos in your bag is a great step towards tangle-free living.