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Have You Heard of USB-C? You Will Soon.

White USB Type C connector, on a white background closeup

The way you plug things into new computers is changing.

An article about the history of computer cables might seem uninteresting, even unimportant. And maybe even boring. However, this article about cables we use every day is somewhat important. (If it isn’t today, it will definitely be someday—and maybe for you, sooner than you think.)

We’re referring to the type of cable you’ve used to physically connect a keyboard or a mouse to a computer. To be more specific, we’re referring to the style and shape of the plug on the end of the cable, which plugs into a slot (the USB port) on your computer.

And that’s the news you need to know about.

Hello USB-C.

Today, there is a relatively new type of cable+plug that has quietly made its way onto the scene.

It’s called USB-C. The purpose of this article is to make you aware of it because it just might factor in to which brand or model of computer you get next time you’re looking to buy one.

Yes, you might be thinking, “it’s only a cable and plug…big deal!” But it is a big deal, even though it’s not a cool expensive device like a laptop, smartphone, or tablet.

Don’t think “mouse connector.” Think instead of a powerful, versatile, and amazing cable. A cable that delivers a big jump in the performance of your devices, and it will shape how computers, smartphones, and tablets will be designed in the years to come.

Yes, all that from a simple cable and plug.

A computer with just one port. One.

Apple Computer decided simply to go for it with one of their new computers. On the newest MacBook, there is just one port—a USB-C port. There are no other ports on the entire computer to plug into.

In Apple’s words, from their website:

“As long as we were including a port for charging your MacBook, we wanted to make sure it was the most advanced and versatile one available. The USB-C port puts just about everything you need in a port all in one place. This amazing port provides charging, speedy USB 3 data transfer and video output in a reversible design that’s one-third the size of a USB 3 port, giving you the flexibility to easily connect your favorite devices. We chose USB-C for its compact design and versatility. This single port lets you connect your charger; HDMI, DisplayPort, and VGA displays; USB devices like external drives; and your iPhone or iPad. A range of accessories lets you connect virtually any device to your MacBook. For instance, the USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter lets you connect your MacBook to an HDMI display, as well as a standard USB device and a USB-C charging cable.”

PCs and USB-C

A website on PC products stated clearly that USB-C is poised to be the technology standard for connectivity and power. It pointed out that so many big-name companies supporting the technology—Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Apple, Dell, HP, and Intel—USB-C ports will replace classic USB ports completely in the near future.

Why USB-C will be the new standard.

Here’s what you need to know about USB-C:

  • The plug-in part is smaller than the typical mouse plug in (The USB Type A)
  • The plug itself can charge your computers. No extra power cord needed.
  • It transfers data (think uploading graphics or images) at a much faster rate.
  • The plug doesn’t have a “this side up” issue. It plugs in either side up.
  • Not many computers have a USB-C port, but that’s changing.
  • It could someday replace all of the different types of computer cables out there.

USB-C. In stores now.

If you head into a few computer stores and asked to someone to tell you about USB-C, they will show you a computer with one, but might not make that much fuss about it, yet. In fact, if you didn’t ask about it specifically, they might not even bring it up.

So don’t be surprised if you go into three Microsoft stores, talk to four different reps and eventually buy a brand new laptop without a sales rep ever mentioning USB-C, even though a few computers had at least one USB-C port.

It will take some time before USB-C is as common as the standard USB plug is today. The biggest challenge is that there are billions of devices that work just fine with the ports and plugs of today. However, because USB-C has been adopted by Apple, Dell, Google, and dozens of other companies, it looks like a USB-C world will be the general direction of the future.

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