The advantages of USB-C

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First released to the public in 2014, the new USB-C standard brought a new connector design, faster data rates, while providing a lot more power for charging. The idea is to only need one type of cable for one type of port, through which all devices can be connected. It took a few years until we saw USB-C in consumer devices, and traditionally, the rugged device industry adapted the connector a bit later. Since 2018, all new Point Mobile devices have USB-C.

USB-C port on a PM67 mobile computer
USB-C allows much faster data rates, a reversible design, and a higher power output

What benefits does USB-C offer?

The tiny connector features a reversible design, which means, you don’t need to flip the connector three times anymore before you finally got the right orientation. The new ports have a more refined structure and are safer to use overall. For manufacturers of portable computers and smartphones, the smaller connector is a big deal, since less required space allows for better product design.

Many USB-C ports offer USB 3.1, which can theoretically transfer data at speeds of up to 10Gbps – twice as fast as USB 3.0 in comparison. When equipped with Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 technology, data speeds are four times faster than USB 3.1. Thanks to Alternate Mode or Alt Mode, the same USB-C port can be used to push video to HDMI, VGA, and other common types of video ports on external devices. As for rugged devices, those data rates are usually not required in daily work life, resulting in device manufacturers mostly using USB 2.0 or 3.0 standard. Those connections are already pretty speedy for handling all kinds of tasks.

There is more: USB PD (Power Delivery) for charging through USB-C. Currently, a USB 2.0 connection is capable of delivering up to 2.5 watts, which lets you charge smaller devices like a phone. The USB PD specification delivers up to 100 watts, so charging a laptop is absolutely no problem. The most notable feature here is that data can be transmitted even while power is being supplied – through the same connection!

And the drawbacks?

We have talked about the benefits of USB-C, but everything has downsides, right? Well, there is only one catch: Although USB-C sounds like it is the main standard for all kinds of devices today, it actually only describes the style of the connector. There are several internal specifications that define the speed of a port, which can be tricky and confusing at first.

USB4 is next

In an effort to reduce end-user confusion about all the standards, USB4 was developed by the USB Promoter Group and first released in August 2019. It is also based on Thunderbolt 3 protocol, and provides a higher bandwidth, but retains backward compatibility with existing USB and Thunderbolt products. One major change is that USB4 requires USB-C connectors, other than older standards, which means only USB-C to USB-C cables work. All USB4 devices must support 20Gbps, or optionally up to 40Gbps when using a shorter cable.

The advantages of USB-C are obvious and it is clear why manufacturers today mostly build rely on it. The idea of implementing a unified standard was long overdue, and the potential this standard brings with it is massive.

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