All about USB Type-C February 20 2016, 0 Comments

There has been a lot of chatter about this new USB connector, and the debate started right around when Apple released the 2015 MacBook with just this port. What was once seen as a glorious development in technology is now starting to raise doubts, following the recall by Apple of some of the USB Type-C cables shipped with the MacBook. In case you didn’t know what all the fuss is about, here’s a brief breakdown of USB Type-C:

What is USB Type-C?

We’re all familiar with USB ports, as they are found in PCs and laptops. Well, there are 2 common versions of USB ports, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, the latter is usually blue on the inside. However, USB ports have been left behind in terms of speed by Apple’s lightning cable, so the folks who created the USB made an improvement on it.

Basically, USB Type-C is the equivalent of USB 3.1, and is a significant improvement over USB 3.0 in design and performance. These are the main adjustments:

Improved data speeds and power transfer

USB Type-C has the capability to transfer data at speeds of up to 10 GB/s which is phenomenal. Power of up to 20V (100W) and 5A can also be transmitted through the port, which is enough to power a laptop.

Smaller size

Manufacturers are always striving to make their devices thinner, so much so that the normal USB ports became too wide. USB Type-C is much thinner and will allow devices to be much thinner.

Reversible

Just like Apple’s Lightening connector, you won’t have to mind which way you plug in the cable into your device; there’s no correct way to do it anymore, it’s all correct.

Compatibility

USB Type-C ports and cables are backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and USB 3.0, so you shouldn’t start throwing away your flash drives just yet.

Applications of USB Type-C

This technology was only recently released and is still very much under development. Nevertheless, a few laptops such as the MacBook and new Chromebook have adapted this technology as the primary source of power. This is thanks to the amounts of power that can be transmitted through the cable.

A few smartphones released in 2015 such as the OnePlus 2, Nexus 5X and 6P, Lumia 950 and 950XL as well as NokiaN1 tablet all have a USB Type-C port. This is possible because of the size of the port, allowing it to be used even in smartphones. Expect more devices being released this year, including the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge to sport a USB Type-C port as well since this seems to be the clear improvement.

The problem with USB Type-C

The actual problem doesn’t lie with the technology itself, but rather the transition. To be able to use USB Type-C port on your device when you don’t have the port on your PC, you will need a USB Type-C to USB adapter. These cables and adapter are very expensive at the moment (as it is with all new technology) and may be unaffordable.

The price of these cables have led many to online stores that sell them from 3rd party manufacturers, and that’s where the problem lies. Most of the cheap cables and adapters on sale on Amazon or eBay are of low quality; they don’t do a good job transmitting power or data and end up damaging devices. Unfortunately, there is no sure way to determine whether a USB Type-C cable is good, unless you buy one from a reputable shop like Apple which is, as I said earlier, damn expensive.

The future of USB Type-C

Despite all the problems we’re seeing right now surrounding USB Type-C, it’s not going to slow down the technology’s spread. We all want more efficient devices, and this proves to get us there, regardless of the initial setbacks. Also expect the cables’ prices to drop soon as more and more devices adapt the technology, and then it will gradually phase out regular old USBs 2.0 and 3.0 in time.