If you've been paying attention to the world of USB, you may have heard about USB 3.1 and USB Type-C. But what's the difference? Which one do you need? And how are they different from USB 3.0 or even 2.0? Let's break it down.
What is USB Type-C?
Over the years, the USB connection has taken on many forms. The rectangular port you're most familiar is called USB Type-A. The blocky, almost square port used in many large peripherals like printers is USB Type-B. Add micro and mini versions of each of these into the fold and suddenly you've got a half dozen connection types and a recipe for confusion.
But now Type-C is here to save the day. USB Type-C is a description of the port connection itself. It's small, compact, and replaces the standard USB Type-A and B connections as well as the myriad of micro and mini USB ports. Basically, it's one USB connection type to rule them all. And best of all, it's reversible, so the days of flipping your USB cable three times before inserting it correctly may finally be numbered. Over the next few years, look for USB Type-C to begin becoming the universal port for all devices including desktop, laptop, and mobile. If you've purchased a new PC recently, you've probably already begun to see this trend.
One thing to note, because announcements of Type-C connections have come hand in hand with USB 3.1, many people assume they're the same, or at the very least that all Type-C runs on the 3.1 spec. This is not the case. Remember, Type-C is the connection type and may actually run on a lesser spec – USB 2.0 even – so don't assume you'll be getting all that 3.1 goodness just because you see that tiny reversible port.
What is USB 3.1?
USB 3.1 (aka USB 3.1/gen 1 and USB 3.1/gen 2) is the successor to USB 3.0. Identifiable by its bright turquoise port, USB 3.1/gen 2 doubles the transfer speed of 3.0 to a whopping 10 Gbps. USB Power Delivery 2.0 makes a big step forward as well with up to 100W of power. And like previous versions of USB, it is fully backwards compatible with its predecessors.
When used with the Type-C connection, things get really interesting for 3.1. The 100W of PD v2.0 is enough to power and charge full sized notebooks, which means the proprietary AC port may soon be replaced by this universal alternative. With 4 data lanes, USB 3.1 Type-C can even carry DisplayPort and HDMI video signals, further adding to its ubiquity. Some Type C ports can even do dual duty as Thunderbolt 3 ports. Again, one port to rule them all.
That said, here are the six main things you need to know about the USB Type-C format:
If you have ever used a USB cable you have likely had to readjust and realign the darn thing to the "right way up" in order to just connect it.
USB Type-C fixes that frustration with a reversible plug that allows a device to be plugged into port either way, whether it's upside-down or right-side up - in other words, all the sides are right-side up. This ought to save precious seconds and short tempers while charging a smartphone or accessing a storage dongle.
There are a lot of USB cables out there of various sizes. So much so that it can be confusing as to which is the correct USB cable you need to use for your smartphone, tablet or laptop.
USB Type-C cable's design seeks to solve that issue by working with different-size devices, from tablets and laptops to slim smartphones, despite coming in at about the size of the USB 2.0 Micro-B. That's roughly a third of the size of a USB Type-A plug.
With USB Type-C, you will just need a single, tiny cable. No more messing around with different USB cables for the various devices you own.
It Transmits Video And Audio
A USB Type-C cable will be able to transmit audio and visual signals using DisplayPort technology.
It accomplishes this by using an Alternate Mode ("Alt Mode") to deliver full DisplayPort performance, including support for 4K, 5K, and existing USB Type c to DVI, USB Type c to HDMI, USB Type c to Displayport, USB Type c to RJ45 and USB Type c to VGA-enabled displays.
So, basically, you will be able to use any number of monitors and displays with USB Type-C, including those that support ultra-high-definition.
It Charges Your Device
The new USB Type-C standard supports 100-watt USB Power Delivery. For comparison, a USB 2.0 connection only offers up to 2.5 watts of energy, which is good enough for charging your smartphone, but a laptop could require up to 60 watts.
It's also works both ways, so a device can send or receive power, making it bidirectional. Even better, power can be transferred while using the DisplayPort feature. Potentially, with USB Type-C, you could plug your laptop into a monitor connected to a power cable, and the monitor would charge your laptop as you used it as an external display.
However, both the device and the cable have to support USB Power Delivery in order for this to work.
It's Faster Than USB 2.0
USB Type-C supports the 3.1 SuperSpeed standard, meaning that files can be transferred at speeds of up to 10 gigabits per second. Meanwhile, USB 3.0 transfers data at speeds up to only 5 gigabits per second. USB 2.0 transfers at up to 480 megabits per second. Basically, file and data transfers will be at their fastest with the USB Type-C.
Similar to the power charging, both parties involved (the cable and the device) would have to support USB 3.1 SuperSpeed in order for faster transfers to occur.
It Will Require Adapters
Due to the new design, the USB Type-C connector will not be backwards compatible with any other types of USB connections. However, there are already a couple of adapters out there like Apple's USB-C Digital Multiport Adapter that allow you to connect an HDMI or VGA output, larger USB Type-A connector or smaller USB Type-C connector via a single port.
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Post time: Oct-28-2019