22 May 2015 19:13 IST

One port that does it all

Here is the lowdown on the new USB-C

Look around any typical dorm room and you’ll find a host of devices with USB cables dangling from them. The more devices you and your roommates accumulate, the more cables lie bunched up in every possible corner. Do you often wish there was one common port that connects multiple devices across brands? Your wish has been granted.

USB-C is the hot new industry-standard connector and cable that debuted at the launch of Apple’s new MacBook. It might seem like an upgrade on the older versions but what sets USB-C apart is its new take on the alphabet ‘U’ in its acronym; it is as universal as it gets – this tiny port can accommodate any device.

So, how is it better than its predecessor?

Firstly, it has a size advantage. The USB-C is smaller and thinner so it can fit into both thin- and normal-sized devices. It is also extremely energy efficient, in the sense that it can carry up to 100 Watts of power. Now, you can charge full-sized electronic devices with ease.

It can also carry data up to 10 GB per second.

Over the years, USBs have been facing stiff competition from rival companies and it has trailed behind Intel’s Thunderbolt in both matters of speed and ease of use. The USB-C intends to regain lost ground.

Star attraction

The best part, however, is that the connecter is reversible. This means that you can plug it in the right way in your first attempt. This improves its longevity since you don’t have to worry about chipping it every time you insert the connector.

While living on a student budget may put the new MacBook, which starts at $1,299, beyond your reach, should you leap ahead and get yourself a USB-C connector? Maybe.

Apple might be one of the first to use the USB-C but it is no lone ranger. Google earlier announced that they are “very committed to the USB-C spec. Expect to see this in a lot of Chromebooks and Android phones in the near future.” Also, a Nokia N1 tablet was seen sporting an USB-C port.

Cons

However, since the technology is in its nascent stage, quite a few loopholes have surfaced. Apple aficionados are moaning about the fact that the new MacBook houses only one port. This means staying connected on the MacBook, realistically, requires plugging and unplugging accessories quite frequently. For example, if the power cable is connected to the single port and you want to connect a USB dongle for the wireless mouse, the power cable will have to come off. So, unless the laptop is fully charged, you won’t be able to connect anything else to it.

Another “disadvantage” of this technology, again, very Apple-specific, is the costs involved. Since the tech is new, you’ll end up buying adapters and dongles to retro-fit the connector to older devices. And on the Apple store, bear in mind, they don't come cheap. So you’ll have to wait for a certain Chinese component manufacturer to make the connector by the millions before they start becoming more affordable.

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