How to survive with only one USB-C port on your new MacBook. Мышка usb type c


Компактная мышь с убирающимся кабелем и разъемом USB Type-C

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Trust.com - USB-C Retractable Mini Mouse

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The difference between Micro USB and USB type C 

Major smartphone brands are making the quantum leap from the ubiquitous Micro USB, an industry standard now for many years, to the much newer USB type C ports. Confused much? Let’s put it this way; a Type B micro USB port is probably what you use on your phone right now. The easiest way to tell is that the USB cable plugs in one way and if you are not paying attention, odds are you will plug it in the wrong way every once in a while. So, what is USB type C?

USB type C has built upon the original USB technology, amping it up a notch. For starters, USB type C cables are reversible; any way you plug in is the right way. There are more underlying differences between micro USB and USB type C we will look into later.

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Before we continue, let’s explain a bit about the the whole USB standard. Universal Serial Bus (USB) was developed in 1994 by a bunch of companies as a way to unify connection cables between devices, capable of transferring both data and also charge. Various generations of USB comprise USB 1.0 (and later 1.1), USB 2.0 (most widely used today), USB 3.0 and currently USB 3.1 (which ports are usually a bright blue). USB 3.1 processes data at speeds of up to 10 Gbps compared to USB 3.0 at 5 Gbps. The popular USB 2.0 clocks in at 480 Mbps, an improvement from the 12 Mbps throughput of USB 1.0. This ought not to be confused with Standard types A, B, and the newest C. These are physical attributes you can see with the naked eye. These standards tend to be backwards compatible (you will need a special adapter for type C).

Related post: USB 3.2 is out with transfer speeds of upto 20Gbps, twice as fast as its predicessor

Micro USB

USB 2.0 Type A to USB micro [Image credit cablesdirect.co.uk]

Related: Thunderbolt 3 vs USB Type-C: The spot-on difference

Type A standard is that rectangular-shaped USB end that connects to a laptop/charger head/printer etc. The other end is the type B micro USB. Apart from the newer crop of smartphones, most devices use a 2.0 micro USB. This connector can only go in one way and has two hooks at the bottom to hold the cable in place. micro USB became the industry standard and soon replaced the various type B connectors i.e Nokia and Samsung’s proprietary connectors of yonder year. Naturally the iPhone has it’s own cables but let’s not go there. As we said, micro USB usually comes in 2.0 variant but the likes of Samsung have shipped the devices with a more modern 3.0 micro USB although that’s a rarity.

USB type C

USB 2.0 Type A to USB type C cable [Image Credit: AndroidAuthority.com

At first blush , type C looks slightly bigger than micro USB. Owing to its oblong reversible shape, you can plug it in whichever way without worrying about which side is up. This standard takes advantage of USB 3.1 and 3.0 data transfer speeds and a higher throughput capability to ensure a fast charge along with transfer rates from 5Gbps to 10Gbps. It can deliver up to 100W of power, enough to charge a laptop and other such devices. (Apple already uses this standard on their Macbooks).That said, you will probably come across USB 2.0 type C cables more often than not, especially for smartphone devices which don’t much require the extra oomph!

Related post: How to charge your USB-C smartphone using a Micro-USB charger

USB type C is designed to be a one-size-fits-all able to replace connector cables in smartphones, game controllers, HDMI, cameras, laptops, printers, scanners, and whatever gadgetry you can think of. As Apple has shown to our chagrin, type C is gearing to replace type A ports (along with micro USB cables) with double-ended connector cables.Whereas micro USB is limited by design, USB type C has the potential to replace most of the current peripherals in use today.

Related post: USB 3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 4.0 and Thunderbolt specs and feature comparison

 

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15 Best USB Type-C Accessories (2016)

Of the myriad array of ports (connection interfaces) that we see on our electronic gadgets, the USB port is arguably the most popular and well-known. From flash drives to digital cameras, and from keyboards to smartphones, just about everything uses a USB port. And because of the numerous types of USB ports out there, we often have to fiddle with different cables and adapters to interconnect our devices.

But that’s all soon to become a thing of the past, thanks to USB Type-C. Meant to be a universal connection interface for all devices (e.g. smartphones, computers), USB Type-C not only has a smaller and reversible (no more wasting time to find out which side to plug a USB device) connector design, but it also offers increased data and power transfer speeds. In fact, there are already many devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets etc.) out in the wild that feature USB Type-C. And in case you have one, you might be wondering what are the best USB Type-C accessories you should get?

Well, that’s what this post is meant to help you with. But before we get to the listing of the best USB Type-C accessories, check out the devices they are compatible with.

Some of the currently available devices having USB Type-C port(s)

  • Nokia N1
  • Apple Macbook
  • Google Chromebook Pixel
  • OnePlus 2
  • Nexus 5x  and Nexus 6P
  • Microsoft Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL
  • ZUK Z1
  • Letv Le 1 Pro

Best USB Type-C Accessories

Note 1: From here onward, the terms “USB Type-C” and “USB-C” have been used interchangeably, throughout the article.

Note 2: Wherever any USB Type-C devices (e.g. Nexus 6P) are mentioned in the article, they indicate the latest versions of the said devices, as listed in the preceding sub-section, along with the buying links.

1. Yoozon USB Type-C to Type-A cable

Lightweight yet sturdy, the Yoozon USB Type-C to Type-A cable is perfect for connecting USB Type-C devices to computers having the conventional USB Type-A ports. The cable fully confirms to the USB Type-C specifications, and offers high data transfer rates (up to 480 Mbps). Other than that, it also includes support for fast charging. The cable is compatible with nearly all USB Type-C devices. Oh, and did we mention the lifetime product warranty, and great customer service? Here‘s another spec-compliant USB Type-C to USB 2.0 cable, from Anker.

Price: $6.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

2 Belkin 3.0 USB-C to USB-A adapter

The Belkin 3.0 USB-C to USB-A adapter provides a hassle free way of connecting USB-A devices to gadgets having USB-C ports. As an example, it can be used to connect flash drives, keyboards/mice etc to devices like new Apple Macbook and Google Chromebook Pixel. Thanks to the USB 3.0 support, the adapter offers data transfer speeds of up to 5 Gbps between connected devices. It fully supports all USB Type-C devices. However, the price is a bit on the higher side, especially for such a small adapter.

Price: $13.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

3. Kingston Data Traveler USB 3C Flash Drive

If you’re looking forward to adding some extra storage to your new USB Type-C laptop or smartphone (via USB OTG), the Kingston Data Traveler USB 3C Flash drive is just what you need. The flash drive offers data transfer speeds (up to 100 MB/s read and 15 MB/s write) based on the USB 3.0 standard, and is available in multiple capacities (16, 32, and 64 GB). Then there’s the fact that it comes with a five year warranty as well.

Price: $25.93 (for 64 GB variant)

Where to buy: Amazon.com

4. Anker USB-C Multiport Hub

More often than not, we need to connect so many peripherals (e.g. mice, speakers, external hard disks) to our computers, that they run out of ports. If that’s something you can relate with, the Anker USB-C Multiport Hub is perfect for you. It hooks up to a USB-C port on your computer, and in turn, lets you connect up to 3 USB-A type devices (e.g. flash drives) to the PC. Not only that, the Anker USB-C Multiport Hub has an Ethernet port as well. The device is compatible with all major Operating systems, and also includes an eighteen month warranty.

Price: $27.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

5. Anker PowerCore+ USB Type-C Power Bank

Although our gadgets are getting more powerful by the day, “battery life” is something in which a needs to be done. Consequently, power banks are almost essential these days. And that’s where Anker’s PowerCore+ USB Type-C Power Bank comes into the picture. Having a behemoth 20100 mAh capacity, the Time recommended power bank can not only charge multiple smartphones simultaneously, but even laptops like the new Macbook. In addition to a USB-C port, it comes with two regular USB-A ports. And thanks to the “PowerIQ” feature, the Anker PowerCore+ USB Type-C Power Bank can automatically detect the connected devices to be charged, and regulate the charging current accordingly. How cool is that?

Price: $50.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

6. 1byone USB 3.1 Type-C Multiple Adapter

If you frequently use external displays with your laptop(s) via HDMI, 1byone USB 3.1 Type-C Multiple Adapter is a must have. It connects to the PC via USB Type-C connector, and provides you with a USB Type-A port, a USB Type-C port, as well as an HDMI port. The HDMI port can easily handle 4K resolution content (Of course, 720p/1080p support is there too), thus making it easy to get the best out of Netflix on a bigger display. And yes, it can charge the latest Macbook via the USB-C port as well. In addition to being compatible with Windows and Mac OS X, the 1byone USB 3.1 Type-C Multiple Adapter supports Chrome OS too.

Price: $43.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

7. iClever USB Type-C Car Charger

Car chargers offer a convenient way of juicing up your devices when you’re driving, and the iClever USB Type-C Car Charger is perfect for charging your USB Type-C smartphone while on the move. The charger features a “SmartID” technology, which automatically identifies the connected devices, and charges them optimally for maximum efficiency. In addition to the USB-C port, the charger also has a regular USB-A port for charging non USB-C gadgets. Oh, and you also get a 30-day money back and lifetime support guarantee.

Price: $16.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

8. JOTO USB Type-C to Micro USB Adapter

Normally, when you buy a USB Type-C device, you also get a USB Type-C cable for the same. However, many of us have one or more spare Micro USB cables from our other devices lying around. And the JOTO USB Type-C to Micro USB Adapter lets you use those cables with your USB Type-C devices. Just plug-in your old Micro USB cable into the adapter, and you’ve got a USB Type-C cable. Thus, you can have one charging/sync cable for multiple devices. The adapter is compatible with nearly all USB Type-C devices, such as Nokia N1 and OnePlus 2. And when you buy the adapters, you get not just one, but two of them.

Price: $8.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

9. NXET Type-C Charging Dock

The NXET Type-C Charging Dock offers an elegant solution for charging up your USB Type-C smartphone on the desk. The dock is compatible with almost all USB Type-C smartphones, such as the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6P, and OnePlus 2. It comes with an adjustable USB-C connector, so you can charge your smartphone, even if it’s in a thick case. Not only that, dock’s cable comes with a USB-A plug, so it can even be used for syncing and transferring data, while connected to the computer. However, the dock doesn’t come with an AC adapter, which is a bummer.

Price: $27.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

10. Vinsic USB Type-C Car Charger

Given its tiny size, the Vinsic USB Type-C Car Charger packs in quite some goodness. It can be used for conveniently charging almost all USB Type-C devices, including even bigger ones such as the Nokia N1 and Apple Macbook. The smart identification chip automatically detects connected devices to regulate charging speeds for better efficiency. And the built-in over-voltage protection, short-circuit protection, and input over-current protection functions make it perfectly safe for all your devices. It even has a standard USB-A port for charging older devices.

Price: $12.90

Where to buy: Amazon.com

11. RAVPower USB-C to USB-C Cable

It’s not every time that you’d want to connect a USB Type-C device to a regular USB-A port on your computer. What if you want to connect two USB-C devices (e.g. a Macbook and a Nexus 5X) with each other? This is where the RAVPower USB-C to USB-C Cable is going to help. It has the reversible USB-C connectors on either end, and the connectors’ aluminum casing ensures better heat dissipation. The cable is compatible with all USB Type-C devices, and comes with a 12 month limited product warranty.

Price: $15.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com (select the RP-TPC001 product variant)

12. Otium Braided USB Type-C to Type-A Cable

Generally, charging/syncing cables have to withstand a lot of twisting, and general rough usage. And that’s why the Otium Braided Type-C to Type-A Cable is designed to take some heavy beating. The 1 m long cable is fully fabric braided, thus making it more sturdy and resilient to wear and tear. It’s compatible with all USB Type-C devices (e.g. Lumia 950/950 XL, Google Chromebook Pixel). All said, it’s a great companion to USB-C devices. Want something similar? Take a look at the great braided USB Type-C cable from Ankovo.

Price: $12.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

13. F-Color Micro USB Type-C Convert Connector Cable

What if you have a USB Type-C and a Micro USB device, and you don’t want to carry separate cables for the two? Use the F-Color Micro USB Type-C Convert Connector Cable. The uniquely designed cable has a regular USB-A port on one end, but two connectors (one USB Type-C and one Micro USB) on the other. The default connector is Micro USB, but if you want to use this thing with USB Type-C devices, simply plug-in the attached USB Type-C connector to the Micro USB port, and you’ve got a USB-C cable. Being fabric braided, it is pretty strong, and comes with a 12 month warranty.

Price: $14.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

14. TechMatte USB-C to Micro USB Adapter

Providing an easy and quick way of converting your old Micro USB cable to a USB Type-C one, the TechMatte USB-C to Micro USB Adapter is light yet sturdy, and has been professionally tested to confirm to the USB Type-C standards. Compatibility isn’t an issue either, and the adapter works with all USB Type-C devices such as the Nokia N1, Apple Macbook, and the Microsoft Lumia 950/950 XL. You can buy either a single adapter, or in packs of 2 or 4.

Price: $7.99 (for a pack of 2 adapters)

Where to buy: Amazon.com

15. Orzly USB-C to USB-A Cable Multipack

The Orzly USB-C to USB-A Cable Multipack is a great accessory kit for all USB Type-C devices. The pack includes a total of four cables in different colors, with each being certified with the USB 3.0 standard. They are also fully compliant with the USB Type-C standards, so you can safely use them with all your devices. There’s also a 12 month replacement warranty, so that’s a good thing as well.

Price: $19.99

Where to buy: Amazon.com

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Google Pixel C Accessories

Get more out of your USB Type-C devices

The accessories discussed above are perfect companion(s) for all your USB Type-C devices, helping you connect/use them with older devices without any compatibility issues. Check them all out, and let us know your favorites in the comments below.

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How to survive with only one USB-C port on your new MacBook

Now Playing: Watch this: Using USB-C in Apple's new MacBook

2:54

If there's one thing about Apple's new 12-inch MacBook that seems to drive people crazy, it's that the slim, 2-pound laptop has only a single shared port to handle data, power, video output and accessories.

Forget Apple's current scheme of packing in USB, Thunderbolt/mini-DisplayPort, HDMI and even an SD card slot on laptops such as the 13-inch MacBook Pro . Now you've got a single port -- and what's more, it's a new USB-C port, which means absolutely nothing you own will work with it without an adaptor or dongle.

Formally known as USB 3.1 Type C, this new port combines faster data transfer speeds (up to 10Gbps) with a new shape. The smaller plug and socket is miles better than the previous Type A and Type B ones, and their much-hated micro and mini variations, because it's fully reversible. The plug slides in either side up, which is a big deal if you've ever tried jamming a USB key or cable in upside down. And as both the top and bottom of a USB plug look the same unless you're examining it very closely, that happens fairly often.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Why only one port? And a new one at that? The official pitch is that MacBook users will use wireless connections for just about everything. Bluetooth for a mouse, Wi-Fi for internet access, AirDrop for file transfer, and so on. Most of these assumptions are correct, but there's something to be said for being able to use a full-size USB or HDMI port to connect to any USB key or HDTV with minimal hassle.

Staying connected on the new MacBook realistically requires plugging and unplugging accessories fairly frequently. If you start with the power cable connected to the single USB-C port, in order to connect the USB dongle for a wireless mouse, you need to disconnect the power cable and plug in a short USB-C to USB-A cable (sold by Apple for $19, £15 or AU$29). To use a USB data key, keep the adaptor cable connected, but pull the mouse receiver and connect your key instead.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Shortly, you will be able to connect video the same way, using a USB-C to HDMI, DisplayPort or VGA adaptor. Apple has two connection blocks that include either HDMI or VGA for $79, £65 or AU$119 each coming soon, and third-party accessory companies such as Belkin, Monoprice and Kanex have their own versions that will also be available soon, including a USB-C to Ethernet adaptor.

One clever trick you can do with the USB-C port on the new MacBook is to charge it on the go. The system (and theoretically any laptop with USB-C) can draw power from the portable backup battery packs that so many people have lying around in drawers and laptop bags.

An external battery pack connected via a Monoprice USB-to-USB-C cable. Dan Ackerman/CNET

To do this, use a USB-C to male USB cable (we tried a $10 one sent by Monoprice), and you can get some extra battery power on the go without having to bring the whole power brick, or have access to a power outlet. It won't fully charge the laptop, but it could offer enough power to help you out in a pinch.

Despite all the cool aspects of USB-C and its great potential for the future, the limitations of having a single USB-C port for all your connection needs (with the exception of a standard audio jack that also made the cut in the new MacBook) is going to be a challenge in the short term, unless you're prepared to arm yourself with a pocketful of dongles and adaptors.

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DataPro's USB-C Guide and FAQ

DataPro Tech Info > DataPro's USB-C Guide and FAQ

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USB 3.1 Type-C (sometimes abbreviated as USB-C) has been making headlines with its radical redesign of the ubiquitous USB connector, and intriguing new features. Where did it come from? Where is it going? And how can you make use of it? Read on! USB Type-C (or USB-C) is a physical USB connector format introduced alongside the USB 3.1 spec in late 2014. Truly embracing the "Universal" part of Universal Serial Bus, it is intended to eventually replace all current USB connectors, including the traditional USB-A connector, USB-B, and Micro-B.

A Type-C connector is about the size of a Micro-B connector, and can be identified by its rounded sides and hollow center. This can be differentiated from Micro-B, which has a tapered shape, or Apple's Lightning connector which is solid with contacts on the outside.

USB-C ports will usually be accompanied by a label that indicates their capabilities, and whether the port supports USB Power Delivery (PD). Here are some of the most common ones:

There are a couple of physical advantages to using the Type-C format. First, the plug is orientation-free (there is no "up" side of the connector - it can be plugged in either way), and connections between Type-C devices are direction-free (either end of the cable can be plugged into either device). The connector is designed to be very compact compared to Type-A and Type-B connectors, and more durable than Micro-B, having been designed for upwards of ten thousand cycles (insertion and removals) of use. In terms of functionality, Type-C cables can take full advantage of USB 3.1's 10Gbps transfer rate and maximum power transfer of up to 20V 4A (100W) - more than enough to charge a laptop or power a monitor. Microsoft has also announced that Windows 10 will support direct connection and data transfer between computers using Type-C. Though released in tandem, and complementary to each other in many ways, the two specs are separate, with USB 3.1 defining the software and electrical protocols and Type-C defining the physical characteristics of a new connector and cable. Each can still be used independently of the other. For example, USB 3.1 is capable of operating at full speed (10Gbps) over a standard USB 3 cable, and a Type-C cable can be used as a physical format for other specs (such as USB 2.0, DisplayPort, MHL, Thunderbolt and more).

*Since renamed to "USB 3.1 Gen 2."

USB's new high-power capability is conferred by a portion of the spec called Power Delivery (or PD) 2.0. Because it deals with the routing of potentially damaging amounts of power between devices, its requirements are fairly strict. Each device must support USB 3.1 and PD 2.0, and the level of its power output varies by cable type. The full 100W output requires a USB 3.1 Powered B or Type-C cable. When determining if your devices meet this standard, check for maximum output from the device supplying power. USB Type-C was created by a coalition of companies under the banner of the USB Implementation Forum, of which Apple is a member. In March 2015, Apple was the first to announce a laptop with a Type-C port, referring to it as "USB-C." Although Type-C has superficial similarities to Apple's Lightning connector, they are in fact very different on a technical level.

Yes! USB Type-C is ideal for debugging due to its high bandwith, large number of available pins, and orientation and direction-free design. USB-C debugging depends on hardware support from the sink device (typically phones and other devices without a dedicated debug port), but will work with a standard USB-C cable. Officially, "USB 3.1 Gen 1" is synonymous with "USB 3.0" and they may be used interchangeably. USB 3.1 Gen 2 is the portion of the USB 3.1 spec that allows for 10Gbps data transfer.

When specifically referring to speed, the USB-IF has indicated that people should use "SuperSpeed USB" and "SuperSpeed USB 10Gbps."

USB 3.2 is a new version of the USB spec, announced in July of 2017 by the USB Promoter Group. It allows two devices with USB 3.2 compatible chipsets to communicate at 20Gbps over a standard USB-C cable, as opposed to the previous limit of 10Gbps with USB 3.1, or 5Gbps with USB 3.0.

To achieve their orientation-free design, USB Type-C connectors have two mirrored sets of 12 pins, of which USB 3.1 only uses one side. USB 3.2 makes use of both set of pins to double the bandwidth of the connection, simular to how Thunderbolt 3 works.

Alternate Mode (sometimes abbreviated Alt Mode) is a feature of USB-C that allows the physical jack to carry other types of video and data signals without the need for conversion.

Current USB Type-C alt modes include:

  • Thunderbolt
  • DisplayPort
  • HDMI
  • MHL
  • Analog audio
All of them! USB 3.1 is fully backwards-compatible with existing USB devices. All you need to do is adapt the physical connector. Adapters are available to convert attached USB cables to Type-C, and removable cables can simply be replaced with their Type-C equivalent. You can easily connect a USB Type-A device to a USB-C port using a passive USB-C to USB-A adapter like our part 1676. Thunderbolt 3 is a protocol that uses the physical USB Type-C connector, but can also support displays, networking, high-speed storage, and more. To use it, you'll need a computer with a Thunderbolt 3 port. These look nearly identical to a regular USB Type-C port, but with the addition of the Thunderbolt "lightning bolt" logo next to it. You will also need an accompanying Thunderbolt 3-compatible device such as a hub, monitor, or external hard drive. While Thunderbolt 3 ports will also be able to act as regular USB-C ports, a USB-C port will not support Thunderbolt 3 devices. Also of note, while Thunderbolt 3 will work with a standard USB Type-C cable, a special Thunderbolt-certified cable is necessary to achieve full 40Gbps throughput. Thunderbolt 3 will work with a regular USB Type-C cable, however it will only achieve 20Gbps throughput. Purpose-built Thunderbolt 3 cables will allow it to reach its full advertised speeds of up to 40Gbps. The physical connector for USB-C supports data formats other than than USB -- these other formats are called "Alt Modes." The DisplayPort Alt Mode was one of the first announced for USB-C, and most devices with a USB-C port will support it, allowing you to adapt USB-C to DisplayPort with a simple passive cable or dongle. DisplayPort has one of the highest performance video Alt Modes - supporting up to 8K resolution at 60Hz. Generally speaking, yes. Availability of MHL may be indicated by a logo on the device, or listed in its specifications. The MHL Consortium has published USB-C Alt Mode standards for all versions of MHL to work over a USB Type-C connector. This will allow MHL audio and video to run simultaneously over the same cable as USB 2.0 and 3.1. It also enables video up to 8k at 60fps. For more information, see the MHL Consortium's announcement. As with many USB-C features, yes, but the ease of doing so depends on the device. The vast majority of computers can use one of a number of widely available USB-C to HDMI converters. Something to check for is whether your device and adapter support HDMI 1.4 or HDMI 2.0.

More recently HDMI Licensing LLC - the organization responsible for creating and licensing HDMI technology - has announced a USB-C Alt Mode for HDMI, which would allow it to be passively converted via a cable. However it comes with some odd caveats, like a lack of support for HDMI 2.0, which limits it to 4K resolution at 30Hz.

Sound is stored in a digital format on computers, phones, and other computing devices. To hear audio via speakers or headphones, it must be converted to an analog signal via a component called a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC). Nearly any device with a headphone jack will have one of these inside it somewhere.

USB-C headphones can work in one of two basic ways, essentially having to do with where the DAC is located. Each of these methods has different pros and cons.

One method is to stick with the classic design and locate the DAC inside the device, but eliminate the headphone jack. In this scenario the headphones use two multipurpose pins (SBU-1 and SBU-2) inside the Type-C connector (pictured below) to output a traditional analog signal. This setup avoids complexity in the headphone design, is easy to adapt back to standard 3.5mm (headphone) jack with a passive converter, and can optionally provide power to the headphones for additional features such as active noise canceling.

The second method is to eliminate the DAC from the device entirely, and move it to the headphones. In this case the headphones connect to the device as a standard USB peripheral, receiving data through the Type-C port, and convert it via an onboard DAC. The biggest advantage is for the host device, as this frees up interior space for other purposes. For the user, this allows for some flexibility in adjusting the quality of the conversion via sample rate and bit depth. However it is more complicated to convert to a traditional headphone jack, if so desired, and adds complexity and weight to the headphones. As both a pro and con, locating the DAC in the headphones ties it to their level of quality, meaning a cheap pair of headphones may perform worse over USB-C than their equivalently-priced counterpart connected via a traditional 3.5mm headphone jack.

www.datapro.net

USB-C has already won | The Verge

As it likes to do, Apple recently released a product before the world was ready. The new 12-inch MacBook has but a single port — unless you count the headphone jack — and it’s a completely new connector that almost no one has ever used before, breaking direct compatibility with millions of standard USB devices.

But that connector, known as USB Type-C or just USB-C, is likely to become one of the most ubiquitous advances in the recent history of computing and consumer electronics. It’s the compact, reversible port that does everything, and this week’s Computex Taipei shows the first signs of it spreading to the wider world.

How's the USB-C rollout going? “We think it’s going great,” says Jeff Ravencraft, president and COO of the USB Implementers Forum, who calls early Type-C devices like the Nokia N1 tablet, the latest MacBook, and the new Google Chromebook Pixel “above and beyond our wildest dreams” for the first products to hit the market. Manufacturers like Asus have got on board with USB-C this Computex, too, and it’s hard to walk the show floor without coming across hubs, adapters, and cables that support the new standard. “This is the fastest transition we’ve seen in 15 years or more,” says Ravencraft, “so knock on wood everything’s going extremely well and we’re really excited.”

Much of the initial attention around USB-C centered around its reversibility; Apple’s Lightning cables have shown how it’s hard to go back to struggling with asymmetrical USB jacks, and USB-C is the first standard solution to address the issue. But the connector’s potential functionality is just as important as its convenience. Built on the USB 3.1 spec and much smaller than a standard USB-A connector, USB-C can provide enough power to charge a laptop, enough bandwidth to carry a display signal, and fast enough data speeds for almost any normal user.

Intel gave USB-C a big vote of confidence today

With the aid of a more sensible and functional hub than Apple’s ludicrous $79.99 MacBook adapter, you could charge your laptop and connect your monitor and peripherals with one single, easy-to-use cable, making for a seamless transition from cord-free mobile use to productive desk work. Just as the original USB connector eventually killed parallel, serial, PS/2, FireWire, and other ports, USB-C could spell the end for proprietary laptop chargers and dedicated ports like HDMI and Thunderbolt.

And earlier today Intel helped deliver the first blow, announcing that Thunderbolt 3 would adopt the USB-C connector after previous iterations used Mini DisplayPort. Thunderbolt 3 stands on USB 3.1’s shoulders to deliver speeds of up to 40Gbps, letting you run two 4K displays at 60Hz through just one port. It’s a big vote of confidence for USB-C from Intel, and could encourage more PC makers to adopt the standard; Thunderbolt has never quite shaken off its association with Apple, as many others prefer to use HDMI over Mini DisplayPort.

"On the path to no wires, you can go to one wire first," Intel SVP Kirk Skaugen told reporters today. Skaugen had just given a keynote address in which he detailed a completely wireless future powered by Intel technologies or Intel-backed consortiums — wireless displays, wireless charging, wireless docking, and wireless data. A lot will need to happen for all of that to become a reality, but USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 are almost ready for regular people.

"I think there’s the potential for confusion."

Almost. Although USB-C seems an inevitable success at this point, it does have a couple of issues to iron out, perhaps the most pressing of which is the complexity of its offering. There will be USB 2.0 devices with USB-C connectors, like the Nokia N1; USB 3.1 devices that use regular USB-A connectors; USB 3.1 "Gen 1" devices only capable of 5Gbps transfer speeds over USB-C, like the new Chromebook Pixel and MacBook; and USB 3.1 Gen 2 devices that give you 10Gbps. USB-C could be the only cable you ever need, but at this point it may be hard to know exactly what performance you’re going to get when you plug something in.

"I think there’s the potential for confusion," says Ravencraft, whose forum publishes language and usage guidelines for both USB 3.1 and USB-C. "You do not get performance with the cable, you do not get power delivery with just the cable. The cable is a conduit for those things, right? So to have power delivery, the device has to have a power delivery controller, the host or the hub has to have a power delivery controller, and then you have to have the right cable." The USB Implementers Forum offers training programs to help employees at retailers like Best Buy and Staples give accurate information to consumers, and is particularly aiming to crack down on "bad-actor" manufacturers that try to deliberately mislead.

Intel’s Thunderbolt announcement muddies things further. Although Thunderbolt 3 is built atop USB 3.1 and uses the USB-C port, Intel tells us that devices like the new MacBook, Asus Transformer Book, or Chromebook Pixel won’t work at all with upcoming Thunderbolt 3 products, even through the slower USB standard. Customers will have to make sure that everything they’re connecting has the lightning-bolt logo next to their USB-C ports. (Ravencraft was speaking to The Verge before Intel’s announcement today, and the USB Implementers Forum did not respond to a request for subsequent comment.)

Soon enough you won’t want to buy a computer without USB-C

These may prove to be niche concerns in the long run. But USB-C has one more big hurdle before achieving true ubiquity: USB-A. Apart from the 3.5mm headphone jack, it’s difficult to think of a hardware feature that’s dominated the world as comprehensively as the standard USB port, which first came to widespread prominence around the release of Windows 98 and has survived ever since. "Our position is that Type-C is an addition to our other offerings," says Ravencraft. "The standard A connector, there are in excess of 20 billion of those devices in the install base. So I don’t see them going away any time soon."

USB-A handles the USB 3.1 spec just fine, so some companies may see no need to use USB-C on products where physical dimensions are less of a concern. "I think there probably are devices that don’t need the small form factor, that have plenty of Z-height, and they might just as well go with the standard A," Ravencraft notes. "It’s really going to depend on the OEM and what they want to do. We’re not deprecating the standard A or telling people to migrate — it’s really going to be up to the market."

And really, that’s reason enough to be optimistic. Our one-reversible-plug existence might seem overdue, but like its forerunner in the ‘90s, USB-C is that rare thing in the technology industry — a sensible standard that everyone might just agree on in the end. USB-C might not replace your familiar, chunky, maddeningly hard-to-connect USB-A cables entirely, but soon enough you won’t want to buy a computer without it.

Verge Video: This is the USB connector of the future

www.theverge.com


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