5 Things You Need To Know About USB Type-C

LaCie's Porsche Drive with USB Type-C
LaCie's Porsche Drive with USB Type-C. Image courtesy of LaCie

Although the USB Type-C spec was first announced by the USB 3.0 Promoter Group in August 2014, it got its first major attention boost when Apple announced it would include the port on its newest MacBook. Boiling down the nitty gritty on USB Type-C (sometimes called USB-C) and what it means for the computer peripherals industry can be a bit complicated — CNET’s Dong Ngo does a fantastic job  —but here are five things you should know about the new standard.

1. There will be adapters. New products using USB Type-C are already in production, but it will be quite some time before we’ve replaced all our peripherals. Until then, manufacturers are expected to provide “passive” adapters that will allow you to use the new connector with existing computers. It’s important to note that it’s possible for a USB Type-C device to only achieve USB 2.0 or 3.0 speeds — and not necessarily USB 3.1 speeds. If in doubt, check the specs.

2. The connector is reversible. This is one of those small but important details, so no longer will you have to crane your neck around the back of your computer to ensure the plug is facing the right way. It also means that you’ll no longer have to worry if you’re using a Micro-USB or a Mini-USB device because the plugs will all soon be the same size. 

3. It can supply power. The port is able to charge devices up to 100 watts, according to the USB Promoter Group, which means it will cut down on the number of cables snarling in nests on your desk.

An external hard drive, for example, won’t require that external power source.

4. It’s smaller. Measuring just 8.4mm by 2.6mm, it’s expected that USB Type-C will also become the future connector for mobile devices, not just computer peripherals. 

5. Apple isn’t the only one. Shortly after Cupertino’s big press conference, Google announced its Chromebook Pixel would also feature the new USB Type-C port.

Unlike the MacBook, however, the Pixel will come with standard USB 3.0 ports as well.