USB-A, -B, -C, -Mini and -Micro as well as generations ranging from 1.0 to 3.1 Gen2 turn something that was intended to be easy into a rather complex matter. 20 years after the launch of the first Universal Serial Bus, the idea of a universal connection got lost along the way. But there is good news as well: The latest generation, USB-C 3.1 Gen2, is supposed to unify data transmission once again. A symmetrical plug and a bandwidth of up to 10 GBit/s guarantee great convenience. Furthermore, the new ports even allow video transmission featuring 4K definition including DisplayPort 1.3 protocol. Additionally peripheral devices (like displays) will charge connected smartphones, tablets and even notebooks at up to 100 Watts and work as USB hubs at the same time – given a compatible cable, that is. The perfect solution comes from Pulheim near Cologne, where German cable specialist Oehlbach just presented their latest line of USB-C cables.
Notebooks and PCs go hand in hand with a whole bunch of different cables, unfortunately. Many different peripheral devices (mouse, keyboard, webcam, printer, display, router, etc.) need a connection to the computer. Lots of these require individual cable types. But it does not have to stay like this for ever, as a new standard emerges to end the cable chaos: USB-C 3.1 Gen2 is the latest version of the universal connection type and was developed to unify a great number of cable standards. In theory, that sounds great, but there are still a lot of open questions – which we would like to answer in the following paragraphs.
USB confusion: A, B, C and from 1.0 to 3.1 Gen2
USB, short for Universal Serial Bus, has now been around for more than twenty years. Even then, the maximum bandwidth of 4 Mbit/s offered by version 1.0 was not enough for many users and has been upgraded in later versions: 1.1 and 2.0 as well as 3.0 and 3.1 (the most recent ones). The second generation (Gen2) of version 3.1 now offers an impressive speed of up to 10 Gigabit per second.
Besides the different version numbers, we have to take a look at the various types of plugs. At the moment, the flat USB-A connector is (still) the most widespread version. Other than that, we have USB-B as well as Mini- and Micro-USB – the latter ones can be found frequently when it comes to smartphones and tablets. And as if this wasn’t confusing enough, USB-B and -Micro plugs differ in shape depending on the version number (2.0 vs. 3.0). Not much is left of the universal idea – and that is exactly what USB type C is determined to change.
USB-C: universal plug, massive bandwidth
USB-C, the latest kind of plug, uses a different approach when it comes to the construction: For the first time, a symmetrical plug is used that does not have a dedicated top or bottom – it works either way. Besides this very convenient feature, users are understandably amazed by the massive advantage concerning bandwidth of the new devices compared to older versions. But users should have a keen eye on the complete specifications: Only version 3.1 Gen2 provides the full 10 GBit/s. There are various USB-C products available that only support 3.1 Gen1, 3.0 or even 2.0, which reduces the available bandwidth massively. However, this is not the only reason why customers should buy products featuring USB-C 3.1 Gen2.
Special features of USB-C 3.1 Gen2
As we said: USB-C is here to put an end to cable clutter on our desks. That’s why version 3.1 Gen2 features a bunch of very convenient functions:
- Video transmission via USB-C: Recent displays with the respective socket can receive image data directly via USB-C. This feature (or protocol, to be precise) can contain DisplayPort 1.3 signals of up to 5,120 x 2,880 pixels at 60 Hz including MHL (Mobile High-definition Link)
- Charging at up to 100 Watts: This is especially useful for owners of laptops. The charging feature offers up to 100 Watts of power and is thus capable of charging much more than just smartphones or tablets. Ideally, there will be only the USB-C cable left on the desk, linking laptop and display while the latter works as a USB-C hub as well.
It’s all about the cable: USB-C in perfection thanks to Oehlbach
All USB-C peripheral or terminal devices can only develop their full potential if the connection cable supports all the functions. Quality-conscious customers can expect outstanding performance from German cable specialist Oehlbach. The developers from Pulheim near Cologne just recently added four different USB-C cables to their portfolio: The “Evolution” and “Plus” series each offer a type-C to type-A adaptor cable (to connect older hardware) as well as a type-C to type-C cable. The latter are fully compatible with USB version 3.1 Gen2, offer an ideal shielding against external influence as well as 24-carat gold-plated plugs – providing more than enough bandwidth even for 4K video signals. Of course there is no guarantee that USB-C 3.1 Gen2 will still be the standard 30 years from now, but at least the cables will last that long or even longer: As a statement of trust in the products and a promise of quality towards customers, the German manufacturer offers a 30 year warranty on all cables.