Gadget of the Week – What is USB-C?

Published on May 18, 2016

Our gadget of the week is… a USB cable? Hear us out.

While it may not be a gadget per se, the USB Type-C (or just USB-C) is set to change the way we think about all of our favorite laptops, tablets, and other devices in the very near future.

The USB-C started rolling out in 2015. What makes it such a game changer? Let’s let our colleagues at C-Net explain:

“Type-C USB will support USB 3.1 with the top speed of 10Gbps and has much high power output of up to 20V(100W) and 5A.”

Ok, let’s cut through that jargon. While we’ll leave it to the real tech sites to break down all of the nuts and bolts, the most important thing to know about the USB-C is that it’s smaller and outputs a lot of power. So much power, in fact, that soon, with USB-C, our laptops will be able to charge the way our smartphones and tablets do now (Apple’s latest 12-inch Macbook was, in fact, the first notebook to include a USB-C as its power port; they’ve been included with iPhones and iPads for some time now).  

What’s more, USB-C supports bi-directional power, meaning that, as C-Net puts it, “apart from charging the peripheral device, when applicable, a peripheral device could also charge a host device.” This is huge news for techies: It might mean a time is in sight when we can do away with the array of power adapters and cables that we use now and, instead, “move to a single robust and tiny solution that works for all devices.”


You know those portable batteries people are carrying around to keep their phone batteries topped up? You could use one of those to extend the life of your laptop battery while sitting at the park writing your blog all day.

As our devices continue to get smaller, thinner, and lighter, it certainly looks like our connectivity solutions will need to adapt to keep up. But will USB-C become the new standard for both desktops and mobile, or will some other innovation take its place? Only time will tell.

For more reading on USB-C, check out this handy primer from HowToGeek.

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