Glossary

USB Type-C

What is USB-C?

USB-C, or USB Type-C, is the most recent type of reversible connector developed by the USB Implementers Forum, featuring improved design, performance, and bidirectional charging. Both ends of a USB-C cable look the same and are considerably smaller than the rectangular USB Type-A that a lot of us know as only "USB." Unlike the micro-USB connector (which functions with a USB-A on the other end), the oval-shaped USB-C has no specific up or down orientation, which makes things quite easier for users. It'll work as long as it's lined up, with no need to double-check if the broader and narrower sides of the connector match the input port.

What's perhaps even more relevant than USB-C's easier attachment is that it can carry a significantly increased amount of power and allows for interchangeable connection between primary and secondary devices. This brings about many new possibilities, such as charging and transferring data in any direction between connected products. Another novelty is the ability to charge gadgets in a bidirectional way, and even charge energy-hungry equipment such as laptops via a USB Type-C connection with a portable power bank or a monitor. Furthermore, the reduced size of a USB-C port allows for slimmer designs.

Mind you, we are discussing potential; although a USB-C product can be connected via an adapter to previous port standards, the two-way features and extra power won't be magically enabled in your older, non-USB-C gadget. Moreover, the system's full potential requires compatibility with the USB Power Delivery technology, and it also calls for the latest USB version in both primary and secondary devices to deliver the fastest data transfer rates.

Although the USB Implementers Forum published the USB-C system in 2014, it took several years for the oval-shaped connectors and ports to gain traction within the consumer electronics market. USB Type-C is now replacing other standards, such as DisplayPort and HDMI, and could conceivably be truly universal. In the meantime, you can plug several products with different protocols into a single USB-C port by using a multiport adapter or dock.

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