USB Type C offers new Power
Ever since it’s inception, I’ve personally tracked the progress of the Universal Serial Bus (USB). In the mid-1990’s I postulated about the idea of a SmartMedia Card being attached to a USB plug that could be connected to a computer for external storage (now called the USB thumb or flash drive). It has fascinated me how it could be possible to have a cable that could be so “universal”. I appreciated the ideal and so the USB consortium has announced the latest in the line of products, USB Type C.
It’s pertinent to cover the history of USB to offer a level of perspective on what has been available and what USB has done to further connectivity. In it’s earliest rendition USB 1.0 began in 1996 with a decent throughput rate of between 1.5 and 12 Mbps. In 2000, USB was upgraded to 2.0 ranging throughput between 280 and 480 Mbps. And more recently with USB 3.0 the throughput was upgraded yet again to 4 Gbps. As recently as January 2013, that throughput is capable of 10 Gbps.
Many people are aware of the power capacity of USB. Most mobile phones use USB as a power source as it serves both to charge portable electronics and offers a data connection. That connection is much smaller than the original standard A-Type USB plug , but they both still part of the standard. Which brings me to the latest USB type C
USB Type C resembles Type B, which most mobile phones use, but C has some new quirks and features. Currently Type B is non-reversible, whereas Type C is. Also, Type C will support the massive data throughput and power capacity that all prior types do not.
What does this mean for you?
The current maximum power available on USB 2.0 (common) is 2.5 W, on USB 3.0 (less common) 4.5 W. On the latest revision USB 3.1 (not yet released) it will be 100 W. This means that you can charge much larger devices or hopefully gain access to more power, more quickly. No longer will it take hours to charge your phone or tablet, but possibly minutes.
But another advantage of the new standard is that larger devices like laptops will be able to use USB to run or charge. USB will act as a standard power cable type. Some laptops have a power brick that offers 65 W, but others go as high as 90 W. USB 3.1 will offer data and power simultaneously potentially cutting down on the wide assortment of power bricks and incompatibility.
After having monitored the USB market over the years I am grateful to see these advancements. It shows that the ideal is practical and applicable. People really do use USB and each iteration is progressively better allowing for more use. There are several other cable types that have been tried and are still used, but none so universal as the one which uses that word in its name.
Rather than generate a whole new standard, USB remains mostly the same and untied to any one corporation. I’ve yet to see a Firewire or Thunderbolt power adapter for an electrical socket, but I’ve seen many versions that offer USB. I look forward to the next iteration and the mass of potential uses it affords.