Port in a storm

This week, as we walked the halls of CES, we were accosted by a very enthusiastic man who wanted to talk about USB ports. Exciting stuff I’m sure you agree.

USB ports you see are changing. We have gone from the standard ones you see on the front of PCs and the sides of laptops to the smaller ones you now get on many phones. Then there are the blue USB 3.0 ports for faster data transfer.

Now our enthusiastic accoster, although keen to show us some of these, wanted to talk about something else, a new Type C USB port. This is a totally new shape when it comes to USB. It is reversible so that you no longer have to get the cable the right way round, a great advance if you’ve ever tried to plug in anything USB where you can’t actually see the port.

It’s other features include a much higher data transfer rate, 10GBps, and it can deliver 100W of power. All of this is good of course and I look forward to future devices having the connector, as long as that is the case.

Over the years I have had so many different types of USB port that I fear that this new one will just be one of the future many. Yes all the major phone manufacturers signed up to an EU Commission initiative in 2009 to standardise phone chargers, yet they nearly all use different ports, Apple in particular.

However, there is one big problem with USB C, it isn’t backwards compatible. It’s all well and good releasing hardware that has these ports but if you can’t plug them into anything they are useless and if your PC or laptop only has them, you won’t be able to plug anything in.

This leads me to another point and that is, do we need ports anyway? With cloud storage from the likes of DropBox and more, plus app stores and the internet for software downloads, you don’t need to plug things into your devices much anymore. In fact how many of us use devices that don’t have many ports at all?

Rumour has it that the next Macbook Air from Apple will have only the one type C port and a headphone port, that’s it. The port will be used to charge it and to connect those occasional type C devices, that’s all.

So there we were being persuaded by the very nice man that USB Type C was a good idea, yes we said it does look good, but do we even need it?

Comments (1)

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  • 1
    Joe Giddings wrote on 8th Jan 2015

    Of course you need ports - I can't plug my USB fan in to Dropbox! ;)

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