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USB connectors have been around for a long time. Most electronic devices, such as laptops and other computer equipment will feature one or more standard USB Type A ports to enable communication with other pieces of peripheral hardware. Smaller devices like mobile phones, power banks and external hard drives will usually feature either the smaller USB Type B connectors or micro-USB connectors to save valuable space.

Now suddenly, USB Type C connectors, or USB-Cs for short, are being touted as the one-size-fits-all solution for charging and transferring data between devices. But is USB-C really better? We examine some of its key features compared to the standard USB Type A port.

New reversible shape

The USB-C has a much smaller physical connector than the Type A and is around the same size as a micro-USB connector. And unlike the Type A, you won’t need to try to insert it, flip it over and then flip it over once more to find the right orientation for connection. It can be inserted any way up as the connector pins are the same on either side.

Supports new standards

The USB-C connector supports various exciting new USB standards like USB 3.1 – which allows extremely fast data transfers of up to 10 Gbps – and USB PD, which enables power delivery.

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Fast charging

Currently, a standard USB 2.0 connection offers up to 2.5W of power (which is just about enough to charge your phone at a snail’s pace), while the USB PD standard supported by USB-C can deliver a massive 100W of power, which is more than enough to charge a laptop. It’s bidirectional, which means connected devices can both send and receive power – at the same time, to top it all off.

Space saving

It’s safe to say that the days of devices having large number of different connector ports are long gone. USB-C ports can support a variety of different protocols using “alternate modes,” which allows you to have adapters that can output other types of connections from the USB port. Now, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, headphone and power ports can be streamlined into a single type of port, helping devices to become slimmer than ever before.

Interoperability

The USB-C won’t be one of those obscure connectors that are exclusive to one company’s devices alone. More than 700 technology companies collaborated on the design and adoption of this new connector, including big names like Apple, Google, Dell, HP, Intel, Microsoft and Samsung. We can expect the USB-C to become a common feature in new electronic devices being released over the next year or so.

Backwards compatible

Even though you can’t physically connect a USB-C connector to a Type A port, you can use a physical adaptor to plug older devices into a USB-C port. However, the underlying standard is backwards-compatible, meaning a USB 3.0 standard connector can be used with a USB 2.0 port, although it will only work at the speed and capability of the older standard, in this case, the USB 2.0 standard.

It’s clear that USB-C is the new emerging standard for power and data, and will become ubiquitous across the majority of devices. It will also give rise to a range of adaptors for other types of connectors as devices become slimmer and increasingly simpler when it comes to power and data ports.

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As this new type of connector technology makes its way into industry and various outdoor applications such as marine, medical, transport and telecommunications, Bulgin’s new range of USB Type C connectors for harsh environments ensures that even the latest type of connector can be protected securely against moisture, dirt, shock and extreme temperatures.

For more information on Bulgin's 4000 Series Type-C please visit www.bulgin.com. You can also visit Bulgin’s Connectivity Community for expert advice.