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USB-C one port to rule them all; What is USB Type C and do you need it?

by Felix Omondi

Just when you thought laptops could not get any thinner, Apple releases the thinnest MacBook Pro in history. Then again that is nothing compared to the Asus ZenBook 3, which is probably the thinnest laptop in the world, currently; with the thickest point measuring 14.9mm. All that thinnest is partly possible due to USB-C technology.

As laptops get thinner, there is increasingly little space left for I/O ports such as the traditional 7.5mm USB sockets. Any computer connectors require some vertical clearance internally so as to connect to the motherboard and the rest of the internal systems. It also requires a clearance where the physical plug fits. However, with USB Type-C connector, (which started appearing in 2015) the clearance for port needs is very small vertically, as it mostly stretches horizontally.

USB-C is poised to become the standard connector for all kinds of devices including computers’ peripheral devices and even the external hard disks. In this article, we are going to explore some of the new possibilities that come with USB Type C.

USB-C Debunked

Perhaps we should start at, what is USB-C? It is an emerging industry-standard connector that transmits both data and power.

The USB Implementers Forum created USB Type C. This forum is a group tasked with developing, certifying, and shepherding the USB standards. It included over 700 OEM companies as members including Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Intel, HP, and Dell.

The fact that the forum includes all the major OEMs in the computer industry is important as it makes their resolutions readily acceptable across the PC manufacture industry. Unlike the Apple exclusively promoted Lightning and MagSafe connectors, whose acceptance in the industry was limited beyond Apple’s products. However, with USB-C, virtually all OEMs have accepted it.

Is it a Micro USB?

At first glance, you might think the USB-C connector looks like a micro USB connector. However, it is slightly thicker to the micro USB connector.

The best features of USB Type C;

Ø Just like Lightning and MagSafe, USB-C connector does not have an up or down orientation. If you line it correctly, you do not have to worry about the right upside or downside way to connecting it to the port.

Ø Both ends of the cable have the same connectors on both ends. You never have to worry about which end plugs in. As has been the tradition with USB cables for the past 20 years.

USB Type C relation to the USB 3.1

USB-C and USB 3.1 have a relationship. The default protocol for USB Type-C is USB 3.1 with data transfer speed of 10Gbps, which is twice as fast as USB 3.0. The only difference with USB 3.1 ports is that it exists in the original, traditional, bigger shape of the first USB port. The USB 3.1 ports can also be called USB 3.1 Type-A. However, such ports are commonly produced by OEMs in the form of USB-C connectors.

 USB Type C Features

USB Types C sends video signals and power streams simultaneously, giving you a variety of application for the same cable. You can connect to and power a HDMI, MHL, and DisplayPort at the same time using just one cable. The USB Implementers Forum recently announced they are planning to update the USB-C features to include audio transmission.

USB-C also comes with Thunderbolt 3 protocol, giving it the 40Gbps bandwidth while reducing power consumption as it moves 100 watts of power. In essence, a single USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3 is all you will require to power and move a large amount of data (even including two 60Hz 4K displays) to and from your computer.

If you are looking to buy a new computer, you should look for one with USB-C ports. Some of the flagship laptops that comes with USB Type-C ports include the latest MacBook Pro, the Asus ZenBook 3 and the HP Spectre x360 13-w023dx. There are also desktops PCs that comes with this next generation port.

Although currently, there are not so many peripheral devices that support USB-C, but given their growing popularity with the OEMs. It is only a matter of time before peripheral devices with USB Type-C support become common. That said, you are better off buying a USB-C computer now, rather than buying one without and having to buy another with the ports later on.

You can buy a USB-C computer and still connect it with peripherals without the USB Type-C connection using adapters.

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