I/O connectors (input-output) are many and come in all shapes and forms. Some are owned (only available for some devices) such as Lightning for Apple devices – from iPhone 5 onward – and others are compatible with all major hardware manufacturers (often at different times) for the joy of the end users.
A proof of it is the “old” version of the Thunderbolt connector, developed by Intel and Apple, which entered the market exclusively for the Californian Company, replacing the Firewire (developed again by Apple). But among the many standards and connectors, there is one we’re increasingly talking about now.
Although it has been around for some time now, it almost seems that the whole world realized its existence only after Apple’s MacBook 2015 was released. It seems like we experienced a classic example of distorted reality, where only after the release of a device the user realizes what new technology the products brings with them.
With the USB 3.1 Type-C it’s possible to transfer videos: the MacBook mentioned above has the USB 3.1 Gen 1 which uses the 5 Gbps signal rate, unlike others with the USB 3.1 Gen 2 with a 10-signal rate Gbps. But what is this USB Type-C that everyone is talking about? And how is this connected to the USB 3.1? Indeed there’s a bit of confusion and whoever is not confident with the matter may assume that the “Type-C” is a plug-in connector, other than USB 3.0.
The reality is, however, completely different from what you may think; the USB Type-C today is nothing more than USB 3.0 (we had already talked about it in our focus). With this name we define some typical features of this connector. To be clear, there is also Type-A that is always USB 3.0, but unlike the Type-C, it shares some features with the USB 3.0 and 2.0.
Which ones? Bandwidth apart, the Type-A inherits the new “first world problem” of recent years: it can only be inserted correctly with one of the two sides of the connector, just like any other USB connectors in the market. The USB Type-C instead has a completely different connector than the others; not just in size – it’s smaller and thinner – but you can also fit it into the female connector without checking which face is up. In everyday life, this change may seem futile, but it is undeniable that having a plug that can be inserted without looking is an uncommon advantage – it is possible now to test the sense of freedom that millions of users have felt when passing from the old 30pin Apple mobile device connector to the new Lightning cable.
The idea behind the USB 3.1 is different: regardless of the connector, Type-A or Type-C, performance has improved considerably. In order not to exclude millions of devices out there in the market, the new USB 3.1 is completely compatible with old formats; however it does affect transfer performance. It’s the same problem we face while when using a USB 3.0 key on a USB 2.0 computer. But it’s not just speed, backward compatibility, reversibility; the USB 3.1 also supports different power supplies (12V and 20V to 5A). The big advantage is that now via the USB connector you can power and charge a large number of devices, including the MacBook 2015 mentioned before and the Google Chromebook Pixel.
Thanks to USB Type-C, computers will be getting thinner and thinner
That being said, what products are currently available which offer the USB Type-C? Starting with the latest and most talked-about OnePlus Two, which as we know it was announced a few days ago (we can expect the release of many Android smartphones with Type-C connectors in the upcoming months), on Amazon you can find a large number of devices Type-C ready: for example, the Nokia N1 tablet, new hybrid USB memory banks like the one by Sandisk with a full-size USB 3.0 connector and USB 3.0 Type-C connector, or so many more cables sold on the Bezos’ store.
But this is not just a small revolution that will hit only the mobile market (smartphones and tablets in the first place); even traditional PCs – the big ones – and notebooks will benefit from the USB Type-C. Although I wasn’t that excited at the presentation of the MacBook 2015 (the price was too high), it is undeniable that the convenience and portability offered by the USB 3.1 are obvious benefits. Keep in mind that via the USB Type-C 3.1 you can also transfer videos, something that ASUS has already been able to offer wisely thanks to the external display MB168B; to summarize, with a single cable you can charge your computer and transfer videos to an external device that in turn is self-powered – sorry if this is not enough.
Thinner, more lightweight, portable devices mean fewer problems for us than we are trying to stay healthy despite the constant and silent battle against the endless cables to attach to this or that device. For all those who are rightly unhappy at the idea of having a laptop with a single USB port (I understand that, really) there are many Usb c hubs that are increasingly popular on Amazon. For example QacQoc GN30H, you can extend the features of a laptop with a USB 3.0 Type-C connector by adding three additional USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, TF cards, and an Ethernet input.
As is often the case with technology, after the initial mistrust and simply by testing in the daily life a new product or a new connector, the initial dismay leaves room to the eternal silent question: how have I lived without this before?