What is USB C?
USB Type-C is a USB connector format that was introduced in 2014 and has to mission to replace all current USB connectors. Finally, no more headaches about Type-A, Type-B and other micro connector variants. When buying a new smartphone or tablet, you may have noticed the new USB connector on the device. Even externally connected hardware, such as hard drives, printers and some monitors come with USB-C ports. The new connector standard is an all-rounder and allows the simultaneous transmission of power, data, video and audio signals in the best quality.
What are the advantages of USB-C ?
The introduction of the new USB standard brings many improvements over previous versions. The best news is probably that there is no longer a top and bottom to the connectors and it doesn't matter how around the connector needs to be plugged in. Both ends of a USB-C cable are identical. So the cable is directionless and it doesn't matter which plug end is connected to the input and output. It can transfer gigantic amounts of data or simply serve as a charging cable.
Compared to the older models, the new USB connector is now much more compact and is therefore perfectly suited for slim housings, such as those used in smartphones and tablets. According to the specifications, the new generation of connectors is also designed to be more durable and withstand connection and disconnection many thousands of times.
On the technical side, USB-C shines with great advances. Type-C cables manage up to the 10 Gbit/sec transfer rate and can thus supply up to two 4K displays with data. With upcoming cable generations, this data rate will increase further. Even power of up to 100 W can be passed through the cable. This means that it is now possible to have a parallel power supply in addition to a data highway with just one cable. So in the near future, many peripherals could do away with the extra power cable. What has been possible with small 2.5" hard disks via the older USB ports for several years now, will also be possible with more powerful devices such as monitors in the future.
And another good news for you: All USB -C cables are fully backward compatible. This means that you can use the new cables between older devices that have USB-A or USB-B sockets. All you have to do is to adapt the connector by means of an adapter. You will find a suitable adapter for each connector type. But please note that the old generation cables cannot replace the new USB-C cables.
What does USB-C mean and what is USB 3.1?
USB-C and USB 3.1 are often confused with each other. Even though they are directly related, they mean different things. The term "Type C" describes the physical properties of the new connector and cable. That is, width, thickness, length, and the arrangement and assignment of the pins. The designation "3.1", on the other hand, stands for the electrical protocols and defines what the new format must technically achieve.
What should you look for when buying?
Basically, USB "Type C" only stands for the design of the port and does not specify the functional range of the cable. Depending on the manufacturer, the performance of the cable will differ in terms of data transfer and power transport. If very high data transfer is important to you, look for the USB 3.1 Gen 2 label. This is currently the fastest standard and allows transfer rates of up to 20 Gbit/sec. If you want to operate powerful external devices via the cable or charge them quickly, pay attention to the maximum possible power transmission of electrical current. You can recognize this by the designation 100W (Watt) or 5A (Ampere). More than 100W or 5A is not possible.
When do you need a USB hub?
As newer notebooks come out with fewer and fewer ports, a USB-C hub gives you additional ports to connect your external devices to. There are various hubs that come with USB-A ports, Ethernet, HDMI or SD card ports. USB-C hubs offer you an inexpensive and space-saving way to equip your computer with additional ports so that you can connect more monitors or other peripherals.
Different cable lengths
Most USB cables are offered in lengths of 1-3 meters. If you want to extend an existing cable, you can do this with a USB extension. When buying, pay attention to the different properties of the cables in terms of transfer rate and current transport. And be careful: There are copper wires inside the cable, so the electrical resistance increases with increasing length and you cannot increase the total length as much as you want.