All Hail the USB-C Connector

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here. The hideous USB connector is about to become brilliant!

The USB connector we now use is a UI failure. A typical person can’t determine which side is up so there is a lot of fumbling to get the thing in. It’s never clear if you should move it, turn it, or just cram it in harder. When it goes in there is a scraping feeling like fingernails on a chalkboard. The variety of stupidly designed USB connectors is infamous:

None of these look elegant nor do they even feel very good. They are crude, much like automobile connectors from the 1960s.



Here are the main wowzas of the USB Type-C connector:

  1. Reversible. Plug it in either way.
  2. Powers up to 100 watts for charging.
  3. Supports VESA 5K Video at 60 Hz.
  4. Data speeds up to 10 gigabits
  5. Small size, about the size of a Micro-USB connector.

This is a killer combination of features.

The 100 watt charging capability means that even full-size laptops can use a USB-C port to charge up. A Macbook Pro needs 45~65 watts, so the 100 watt limit is more than enough. Say goodbye to proprietary charging cables and connectors.

Probably the most amazing feature is VESA support for 5K monitors. This means that a USB Type-C connector is all you need to connect your shiny new 5K monitor. Plus, it concurrently supports high-speed data so the monitor can have USB peripherals and connectors.

Cables that convert USB-C to older-style connectors are passive (no electronics in them) which means they will be super-cheap.

The new USB-C connector is going to become a major part of everybody’s computing. They will connect printers and monitors and everything else. Apple and Microsoft will both be fully embracing the USB-C connector. Look for products in 2015 as the standard has been finalized and is no longer in flux.