USB-C - A step to the future or not useful at all?


Since we’ve got quite a bunch of discussion around the USB-C connector, it’s time for a dedicated thread for the discussion about USB-C!

So, please discuss here about USB-C, it’s advantages & disadvantages of the tech! (and please, stay mannered).

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Makes sense, I’ll add a longer description later and some links to good articles explaining all that confusing USB-C and Thunderbolt stuff.


Given how many manufacturers are adopting the standard, and its compatibility to so many different kinds of signals including DP 1.3, HDMI 1.4 and TB3, innate compatibility with power delivery…

It’s inevitable.
It’s just the matter of time these guys take over USB-A.

I’m wonder if it would even take over DP and HDMI like how it took over Thunderbolt connectors, it’s more difficult though, especially with HDMI bearing royalties.


Definitely the future, but the difference is whether manufacturers are friendly or hostile to consumers now by providing at least 1 usb-A port, given the sheer number of items (wireless mice, USB drives, portable hard drives) that use the standard now. I’m asking for just 1 usb-A port on devices that can be bought now (like a laptop that can be used for 3 to 5 years), surely that’s not too much to ask.


You don’t actually need a lot of peripherals or devices to “make someone convert” or trigger conversion.

One important device is enough, like smartphones or tablets.

And not a lot of people have peripherals that need to be compatible to all devices.

USB memory sticks might be one counter-argument, and probably the greatest barrier to USB-C, IMO.
You can’t replace your office computer or any public computer after all.


Nah, it’s just a port. It’s not a new protocol. So the only new things it brings over USB-A is Thunderbolt and extra power pins.

Guys, you are tech enthusiasts and I understand your hype, but let’s be realistic: normal buyers don’t give a penny if it’s new or not. They will buy devices that work for them. And right now, only type-A devices work for them because they only have other type-A devices.

Now let’s take a different example:
It’s an analog port, and when LCD came, it just didn’t make any sense anymore. LCD screens were much better, and for them to work, they had to receive digital data, not analog. That means VGA introduced another step of conversion. The computer generated digital data, it was converted to analog, transmitted through the cable, then converted back to digital again to be displayed. So it doesn’t make any sense to use this terribly outdated tech. Oh wait… it’s still there. Even though we don’t have CRTs anymore, it’s still included in new motherboards after 15 years of its obsolescence.

This is an extreme example, but it shows very well how slowly the market accepts new standards. At first nobody had computers with digital ports, so they started making LCD screens with VGA connections. Then people started getting HDMI or DVI in their new computers, but they still had their VGA-enabled LCDs so they continued using them.

Now, VGA had a very strong reason to be wiped from the market. It was analog. But somehow, it still remains. And USB doesn’t have such a reason. I mean yeah, it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3 or have those extra power pins, but it’s still a nice standard that can be used. It doesn’t introduce any extra problems with current technology, it’s not troublesome. In other words - it’s not obsolete.

Furthermore, it’s much more widely adopted than VGA was at the time. VGA was only used to connect computers to their monitors, and USB-A is used everywhere. Not only computers, but also TVs, set-top boxes, routers and basically anything that has an OS. USB-B is also used very widely, but it’s for those devices that act as slaves.

So, tell me, what is your big reason to believe that this not obsolete and much more widely adopted standard can be replaced faster than VGA?

I stand by my word: until all my computers, TVs, set-top boxes, routers, and even the computers in libraries/schools/my friend’s home get this new port, I’m not buying any peripherals with it, as I want to be able to use them everywhere I go.

USB-C will very quickly find its place in laptops, but only as a charging port or as Thunderbolt 3. Other devices will remain type-A. Just like micro USB replaced phones’ charging ports quickly but never found its way into computers.


I must admit to never seeing a full size type B port anywhere. Ever. So I assume you’re talking about mini or micro ones?


Larger devices will often still have full-sized USB-B ports. Printers, MIDI-keyboards, stuff like that. Even most medium-sized devices seem to opt for USB-microB nowadays.

With a built-in handshaking protocol to determine the host- and slave-device USB-C will eliminate the need for separate plugs on the host- and slave-device side. One plug to rule them all!


Yeah, I’m mostly talking about the smaller variations of it. But printers use full-size USB B almost always :slight_smile:


There are quite a few advantages to C, but none of them are really killer. It is a ‘better’ port, especially for slim devices, but I can’t see it being a quick adoption. I wonder, will there be a new different standard in 5 years that kills the A/C debate stone dead before C is the default.


And that is exactly the point I am making, which will make the market switch. People that are not enthusiastic about IT and fancy gadgets hear that Apple puts USB-C in their new Macbooks. Sales reps start talking USB-C as being a future proof plug. So what do I do when looking for a new laptop? It better has USB-C in it, otherwise “I am scared to not be able to connect easily with what comes in the future”… and that wave will grow quickly. And we both know that this completely leaves out that all the things you can also have with USB-A.


No, you buy something that has USB-A because “I’m scared to not be able to connect what I have right now”.
Look, the same story happened with VGA, except that it had an actual reason to be obsolete. Let’s learn from it and not expect unrealistic stuff…


Non techies doesn’t care a device using USB A or C not.

If they cared no one would have bought iPhones who uses Lightning.

Less informed non techies would buy whatever device base on price, aesthetic design, simple form factor (I.e. size), and if it “works for their purpose”.

Then they get peripherals, asking “can my device use it?”

The majority of non techies doesn’t have that much peripherals, I’m betting the most common peripherals they have, apart from mouse and keyboard, are USB sticks and external hard drives.

And about that VGA analogy, I do not agree it’s comparable to USB-C.

VGA existed so long because most DVI-era monitors and display cards supported both. The “average” user cannot tell the difference between analog signal and digital, unless you put them side-by-side. So they used whichever was more convenient to them.

Furthermore, unless someone got a new display card (or computer) and a new monitor at the same time, they’d most likely already have a VGA cable connecting either side, which did not have DVI.

And don’t forget that Monitors and Display Cards are not USB sticks, mouse or keyboard. They are more expensive and tend to have a much longer life cycle. And you usually only have one of them using that interface. Manufacturers fear users not buying their display cards/monitors because of incompatibility so they do whatever needed to say “yes it works with your computer/monitor. Period.” Which is one reason of why VGA and DVI coexisted so long, despite DVI being clearly the better connector.

USB-C is clearly not the same thing. A lot of people switch smartphones, which is the One Device that’s more important than a PC/Mac to a lot of non-techies, every (other) year. The cycle is frequent enough to respond to tech changes (even though most users don’t care), unlike monitors. Manufacturers can easily put in a USB-C port on their phone for whatever reason, make it compatible with USB-A with C-to-A cables and/or adapters, expect PCs and Macs to add USB-C ports, and eventually eliminate the need of adapters and heterogeneous cables.

Once a lot of Phone manufacturers do this, there’s a driving force for PC/Apple manufacturers to add USB-C ports, which both are happening (with Apple being ahead of itself). Completing the transition.


Besides what @kazenorin already pointed out (which I fully agree with), your statement again can be seen in two ways. I do have a phone that uses USB-C, if you look at the Android landscape, the change is already happening. Once the device manufacturers only put in a USB-C to USB-C cable I have to have an adapter… or with the next laptop/tablet I buy I will make sure that there’s at least one (better multiple) USB-C in it. Because, many users do -as you claim it for yourself- hate adapters!

It imo is just a question of time. USB-C is around for a little over 2 years now, really in the market a little bit less. The first issues are sorted out (e.g. with cables not being built according to specifications). The media writes about USB-C, the big manufacturers and device makers push it into the market… it is the new standard and -no offense- I see you actually being the minority here refusing to acknowledge it. I come across end customer scenarios in the big electronic store chains every time I go, and the sales rep story I mentioned earlier really is a thing.


Correction: IF the device manufacturers decide to put in a USB C to C cable. That is very unlikely to happen, as it would leave a lot of customers behind.

And you still haven’t addressed one big flaw in your argumentation: the VGA history.


Nevermind, I might be living in a different reality than you. I said “once” and meant “once”… not if!

I bought a device where this is already the case. There are also external hard drives where this is already the case that I am aware of. I would go with USB-C all the way if I have a choice between two identical devices - and I will do so right now already (not at some point in the future).


Just out of curiosity, which device is that?


Well, then a regular customer would never buy this device because the cable is incompatible with their computer. I mean, if they had to buy ALL their devices at once, they would most probably buy them with USB-C because it’s reversible. But that isn’t the case. And you still haven’t answered about VGA.


For a growing amount of “regular” people, the phone is becoming their computer. They don’t need to plug their phone into a laptop or desktop. For various reasons, such as ota/ cloud file transfer becoming so commonplace. Or that plugging your phone into a computer doesn’t do a lot for most people.
Out of all the people I know (me included at least up until recently), the main reason to plug a phone into the computer is file transfer. But you don’t need that anymore.
This is of course talking as an individual, I know there are plenty of reasons to plug a phone into a computer on work for certain occupations.


Well, then those people will not look for USB-C computers for this reason…