The Dell XPS, Apple MacBook and several other systems on the market have decided to put all their eggs in the USB-C basket. And that's proving to be an epic pain with suitable devices, cables and other peripherals still relatively hard to get. So is it worth the fuss?
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Microsoft's latest Surface Pro 6 and Surface Laptop 2 devices won't come with USB-C or Thunderbolt 3, the latest and fastest standards for connecting accessories and charging your computer. Meanwhile, Apple's recent MacBook Pros have taken the opposite approach by only including USB-C ports - alienating those who don't necessarily adopt the latest tech the moment it rolls out. Neither company has the right idea.
We hate to break it to you, but the traditional USB ports you've been using to connect your cameras, controllers and other gizmos for the past 20 years aren't long for this world. The whole squad's getting replaced by a few great alternatives, though they each come with their own pros and cons. If you're thinking of upgrading your devices this year, here are the ports you'll need to get familiar with to keep up with today's tech.
USB Type-C, or simply USB-C, sounds fine in theory -- a single port to handle charging, data transfer, video output, and more, and one that's reversible too. Three years down the line from its introduction, you'll find it on most smartphones and many laptops, but its apparent simplicity isn't the whole story. Here's what you need to know about USB-C in 2018.
With USB-C becoming a default standard for connectivity and charging, there's no shortage of new accessories hitting the market. Belkin's Belkin USB-C Charger delivers 45W of juice - which is more than what many of the chargers that ship with today's notebook computers and tablets offer - in an attractive body that undercuts the price of replacements from many big companies.
There's a bunch of research that suggests you can get a solid productivity boost by adding a second display to your computer although a second display has been limited to the office as displays are usually too big to carry. But USB-C, with its power and data capability is giving rise to portable displays. This means two-screen productivity is now available to travellers and those with limited workspace.
Your traditional "dopp" kit (or toiletry bag) is a useful travel companion. It's where you stick items like your toothbrush, comb, deodorant, or other grooming items essential for not looking like a slob.
The Pixel 2, like its competition, has ditched the headphone jack, opting to include a single USB-C port on its bottom. While it makes waterproofing the device much easier, it restricts the kinds of accessories you can connect to your smartphone. Specifically, every pair of headphones you have ever owned, along with anything else depending on a 3.5mm auxiliary cable.
Some people just don't like change. Whether it's an unwanted redesign of your favourite website; a new, healthier recipe from your snack food brand of choice; or a poorly considered decision from America's most popular Cupertino-based smartphone manufacturer to remove a ubiquitous and egalitarian connection method, change can hurt.
For as long as I can remember, PC makers have been looking for a single cable/connector combination that can be used for video, peripherals, power and other I/O functions. Thunderbolt 3 with USB-C connectors brings us close to realising that dream. And to help with that Intel is planning to do two things: integrate Thunderbolt 3 into CPUs and releasing the Thunderbolt Protocol Specification to industry.
The Surface Laptop, that was announced by Microsoft yesterday, looks to be a nice computer. The spec is solid and, if the current family of Surface devices is anything to go by, the build will be of a high quality. But unlike almost every other computer market on the planet today, they have omitted USB-C ports. Why have they done that?
With USB-C emerging as the new standard for connecting just about everything to your portable computer, the big challenge is both the number of ports and connecting legacy devices. While there are many docking station solutions around, many of those are too large for mobile workers. The Belkin USB-C 4-Port Mini Hub is about half the size of a deck of cards and provides two USB-A and two USB-C ports from a single USB-C connection.
A little after Apple launched its new MacBook Pro, it also cut the price on its USB-C cables and adaptors since the switch to the new technology meant that most people needed to buy a goofy amount of dongles and converters. Today, that sale ends.
You're probably going to have to start using USB-C cables for some gadgets in the near future, but you should probably be careful which ones you buy. Diligent engineers have found a flaw in some Anker USB cables that can destroy hardware.
USB-C is a great new connector, but has been somewhat slow in its inevitable march to becoming the default option. But now a range of new products from laptops to phones use USB-C, so there are a handful of accessories sporting the new plug. So what different options are there, and how much do they cost?
Over the past six months, the state of USB-C cables and chargers has been a minefield. That's OK, you tell yourself, just stick with stock accessories and all should be well. Except no. An independent researcher has discovered that even Google's boxed chargers for its Nexus phones can be defective, putting your devices at risk.