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USB Type C - USB-C should make a lot easier

A MacBook Pro from Apple with USB-C ports


USB-C should make a lot easier. But the industry has screwed up a good idea thoroughly. Now, with a new variant, everything is going to get better



Statistically, the chances are 50:50, but felt it is more like this: You fumble with the USB connector on a laptop or cell phone around and then noticed: crap, but the other way round. At some point, this was also noticed by those responsible for the standard, especially since Apple has been developing jack and plug for its iPhones for some time, and it does not matter how they are plugged in. The USB people have not only finally designed the connector rotatable. USB-C, the name of the new format, also has many other capabilities.
But enforced the new technology is nowhere near as fast as hoped. Only smartphones now have almost all higher-quality devices, the new jack. With laptops, things are starting to get underway, but there is also a lot of commotion about the portable computers. The main problem is that USB-C is advertised as a kind of panacea - as promised by the name Universal Serial Bus, which emphasizes the universal.
Now, yes, the standard - currently the most current is called 3.2 - meanwhile virtually everything. Not only can data be transferred to hard drives or play on the computer at incredible speed. Laptops can also charge other devices via the socket and charge them themselves. But that is especially true in theory. In practice, manufacturers usually only lend this capability to one of the built-in sockets. The same applies to the transfer of image and sound - in principle, everything possible, but not at every socket everything works. The problem is: even the cables can be to blame if something does not work as expected by the user. And worse, poorly designed strippers or chargers can even destroy a computer in the worst case scenario
Of course, this is known to the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), an association of major manufacturers that sets the standards. The search "USB-C is a mess" on Google promotes countless results, and has been for several years. Why does not that work?
The USB-IF advises manufacturers to provide all sockets with the same capabilities - that would be the least confusing option for users. But that's not only technically quite complicated, but also expensive. Since margins are very low anyway for laptops, the manufacturers simply can not afford it. The hope is that electronic components will be developed that can integrate all these capabilities on one chip and mass-produce the misery.
But that does not solve the problem with accessories. Be careful with accessories that do not adhere to specifications. This is often the case with cheap goods from the Far East. Among other things, the USB-IF also develops a security protocol that checks whether a charger really does what it is supposed to do and what it pretends to do. When a USB device is connected to a port, both share information about what device it is. The information exchanging the charger and the device to be charged, should in the future be encrypted and so can not be forged, promises the USB-IF.
For example, manipulated USB memory sticks, which can log on to the computer as a USB keyboard and then hijack the PC, spoof this information. In the second half of the year, the new safety protocol should be ready. But who of the manufacturers will use it then and when, is unclear. At any rate, there will be no additional logo, as Joe Balich, spokesman for the USB-IF, says. Balich can only hope that as many manufacturers jump on another innovation in the USB standard. This provides that the charger and the device to be charged exchange information about how they would like it. That would make sure that every device could be recharged as fast as the manufacturer intended - if the charger can supply so much juice.
The biggest innovation of USB 4, according to the new standard, will be that it will also incorporate the capabilities of another connector from computer technology called Thunderbolt. Thunderbolt was developed in 2011 by Apple and Intel. From Thunderbolt 3 could be connected to these sockets and USB devices, Intel even took over the rotatable designed connector format for the sockets. Thunderbolt ports became USB ports - but those with the added capabilities of Thunderbolt. These are mainly a higher transmission speed (40 gigabits / second) and sufficient bandwidth for two super high-resolution 4K screens. In addition, you can load devices with up to one hundred watts. As you know and expect it from USB, USB 4 should also be backwards compatible, that is
The customers have to check themselves if everything fits together
However, the name Thunderbolt and its associated jacks will not disappear. Because who wants to use the name, must go through a certification process at Intel. This is not necessary with USB devices.
When USB 4 and the promised improvements come on a broad front is unclear. The consumer is therefore here like so many other questions about USB-C in the rain. Whether monitor X works with laptop Y, you probably only know when you have tried it. The product specifications of the manufacturers of USB products are often incomplete, if not faulty, with online providers. In brick-and-mortar retail, you have to be lucky enough to catch a salesman who has the insight in the USB mess. In any case, the average consumer can not be expected to take from the cryptic description on the packaging what an accessory can and can not do.
And as if that were not enough, the USB-IF confuses users with name changes. Ports that were formerly simply USB 3.0, then USB 3.1 Gen 1, are now called USB 3.2 Gen 1. There are now two more USB standards, USB 3.2 Gen 2 and USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. It is hardly more complicated. Even the USB controller is dawning that such a number salad could overtax the ordinary buyer. So the different versions are advertised with SuperSpeed ​​USB, SuperSpeed ​​USB 10Gbps and SuperSpeed ​​USB 20Gbps. The numbers represent the theoretically possible transfer rate in gigabit per second. When it comes to accessories, the customer must check himself as before, if everything fits together.
The hope is that USB 4 will make everything easier again. However, experience has shown that it takes a relatively long time for new USB standards to prevail. As long as the customers have time again the neglect. (Editors Tamedia)

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