For many years in the early days of personal computing, parallel and serial ports were the pinnacle of innovation. The disadvantages of these technologies were starting to become more apparent towards the end of the 1990s and something had to be done. Alas, the USB cable came to fruition with the USB 1.0/1.1 standard. Over time computers have evolved and we have entered a new era where things are looking bleak for the USB ecosystem. On March 12, 2015, Apple released a new MacBook with a new type of USB port called USB Type-C that hopes to provide a future for this platform. As always, when new technology is introduced, we look forward to tearing it down and understanding it in a better context!
To understand what USB Type-C is, we must first understand the problems it was trying to solve. Conventional technology allows us to connect various devices to each other and even charge them through a single cable. The big flat end of the USB cable has become something of an icon in our world, as it has become the most popular form of interconnect. Ultimately, however, there are some shortcomings. USB Type-C improves on its predecessors in four main areas:size, power, transfer speed and versatility.
There's a minor downside to using USB Type-C:you can't use older USB hardware unless you buy an adapter. In mid-March 2015, it would be hard to find one that Apple wouldn't sell, and the company charges a premium on things like this. Video display technologies also require adapters (unless the display has a Type-C slot), which cost around $80 each.
With the Apple MacBook in particular, there is also the issue of limited bandwidth availability. Although USB-C allows data transfer at up to 10 Gbits per second, the MacBook will cut that in half in its hardware. It still gives you plenty of bandwidth to work with, but you should know that if you buy this computer, you're not tapping into the full potential of USB Type-C.
This technology is as exciting as it is clumsy. While USB Type-C may not necessarily be the golden chalice it's been touted in multiple reports, it can certainly play a major role in reshaping the way we use our technology. What do you think? Tell us in the comments!