USB-C: The Port of the Future

USB-C: The Port of the Future

Dennis Snider

263 Posts




USB Type-C, commonly known as simply USB-C, is rapidly becoming the standard way of charging devices and accomplishing data transfers. The smaller form of USB has been around since 2014, but it’s only become ubiquitous in the last couple of years. It is not only replacing older USB ports, but also proprietary type port such as Apple’s Thunderbolt and even replacing ports like headphone sockets.

New shape
USB-C is immediately identifiable for its smaller shape, the size of a micro USB. This new connector is capable of supporting more efficient standards such as USB 3.1 data transfer and USB power delivery. We are all familiar with the standard USB connector, but this is simply too large for many of today’s slimline mobile devices and laptops. One great advantage is that USB-C has a reversible shape, i.e. it will fit its socket either way up, so no more struggling to insert a cable. It can also be used for many different protocols, which means that, for example, laptops won’t any longer have to have VGA ports, HDMI ports, USB-A ports, etc., etc. – a single line of USB-C ports can do everything.

New Power Delivery
Current USB 2.0 connections can only provide you with 2.5 W of power, which is sufficient for charging a device but nothing else. USB-C can provide up to 100 W, and can multitask as well. This means that not only can you enjoy faster charging, but you can also receive and send data down the same cable while you are charging. Additionally, USB-C can send power out as well as receive it, so you could use one device to charge another, or receive power and use an external screen through the same cable. USB-C is already standard on the latest MacBooks and the Chromebook Pixel, and you should expect to see it on more and more devices in future.

Faster transfers
The current USB 3 standard has a theoretical bandwidth of 5 GB per second, which USB 3.1 doubles to 10 GB per second, a massive improvement on data transfer. However, bear in mind that USB 3.1 doesn’t necessarily have to be delivered through a USB-C connector, and vice versa, i.e., just because a device has a USB-C port, you won’t always be getting USB 3.1 – check carefully.

More Compatibility
USB-C and 3.1 are definitely the future of computer and device ports. Fortunately, unlike with some new technologies, they will remain compatible with older devices, albeit through adapters. However, newer devices will increasingly start using the new technology, and ultimately it should become standard for all devices, meaning the old misery of desperately trying to find someone with the proprietary cable that matches your device could be over.

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