PS/4 and USB Cables – Learning from One’s Mistakes

A quote from George Bernard Shaw goes something like this:

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

Bernard Shaw’s attitude is one I’ve tried to adopt, but on occasions it’s difficult to follow through on, as this little story will make clear. My daughter is a bit of a gamer, and using her own money, earned from her part-time job, purchased a PS/4 console second hand, which has been providing great enjoyment.

Over the Christmas break, as we have a Family Apple One Subscription, she and her sister have been exploring some of the Apple Arcade games on our Apple TV in the lounge room, and had paired up her PS/4 controllers to that Apple TV. I was pretty impressed with how well it worked. For a non-Apple Game Controller to work so seamlessly with all of the Apple hosted multi-player games was really cool.

Our problems began when my daughter went back to try and use her PS/4 controllers on her PS/4. As the re-pairing process normally occurs by plugging the controller into the PS/4 with the same USB cable they are charged with, the re-pairing should be reasonably straightforward – but do you think she could get it to work? I headed into her room assuming it would be a trivial problem to resolve … little did I know that I’d still be there an hour later.

We followed the described process for pairing, but all to no avail. The process involves:

  1. Resetting your Controller
  2. Plugging in the Controller via USB
  3. Re-starting the PS/4
  4. Pressing the PS/4 Button on the Controller – AND ALL SHOULD BE WELL

Only it wasn’t … Step 4 never completed correctly. But finally, we came across a couple of threads pointing out the importance of using the “original” Playstation PS/4 USB cable, and that not all USB/A to Micro USB cables are equivalent … Some are “just fine” for charging, but simply won’t allow re-pairing of PS/4 controllers to PS/4 consoles.

And now a metaphoric “lightbulb” came on above my head! When my daughter first purchased her secondhand PS/4, we had similar issues getting the controller paired – the USB/A to USB/Micro cable that came with it, just didn’t seem to work getting the controller paired, so I went and got my own Kindle USB/A to USB/Micro cable – that seemed to do the trick. I couldn’t leave that cable with her, because I needed that for my Kindle, so she kept using the “original” – well not really original – the cable that had come with the console – for charging, and that had worked fine for charging, until we needed to re-pair.

But if we plan to be “swapping” the controller back-and-forth between the PS/4 console and the Apple TV as we did over the last few days, we’re going to need to have the pairing / re-pairing process for each device working reliably and easily. As it turned out, I had a very thick, very robust USB/A to USB/Micro cable – not my Kindle cable – which seemed to do the trick just fine, and once I used that to do the pairing, all of the functionality of the PS/4 “sprang back to life”.

So the lesson of this little tale is in fact very pertinently covered by George Bernard Shaw’s quote above. I wasn’t making a mistake the first time I struggled to get the PS/4 controller paired several months back, because I wasn’t aware how sensitive the pairing process was to the “quality” of the USB cable in use.

However, having discovered that once, I should have had sufficient recollection of the issue to remember it the next time … but didn’t – that was the mistake. Perhaps I’m writing this Blog entry as much to alert others to this issue, AND as a little reminder to myself.

There was an advertising campaign in my youth, here in Australia where a mechanic justifies the cost of using a premium motor oil in a mobster’s car, by using the tagline “Oils ain’t Oils Boss” … Well it seems this could be appropriated to this case to say “Cables ain’t Cables Boss”. I hope my experiences – my mistake may help others to not make the same one.

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