For sake of a simple example, consider designing a rechargeable flashlight. For whatever reason, you'd like it to be rechargeable over a USB-C port. You also want the flashlight to charge as fast as possible from whatever power source you connect it to, because you know people will need to charge it quickly. To do that, the ideal solution would be a single IC that sits on the USB port and monitors D+/D-, CC1/2, and the rail voltages and sets a few GPIOs to tell your battery charge circuit what is and isn't allowed on this port.
Inexplicably, _that chip doesn't exist_. It does exist for USB 2.0 (that is, BC1.2), available from several vendors, and works perfectly. There are solutions marketed for Type-C... but they don't touch USB 2.0. That means someone who uses a Type-A to Type-C cable with a beefy older Type-A charger doesn't get fast charging. There are some bigger Type-C products that might work, but they're incredibly complex, physically large, expensive, often in BGA packages, and will blow out every line on your budget.
Admittedly it's been about a year since I turned over every stone in the industry searching for my Magical Unicorn Charging IC (like the ones that exist for USB 2.0...), but I do pay attention to new product releases and I haven't seen anyone going in this direction. Probably you could get something customized (at medium volumes) or certainly full custom (at high volumes), but if volumes or margins are low enough to require COTS parts, there really aren't any workable solutions.
I am confident that Type-C's market penetration will skyrocket as soon as the difficulty and cost of actually integrating it into a product reaches sane levels.
Another example: you can buy a small and cheap USB C to DisplayPort adapter with power passthrough (< 20 USD). You can buy a (relatively) small and cheap USB C to dual DisplayPort MST hub (<50 USD). You can not buy a USB C to dual DisplayPort MST hub with power passthrough unless it's a full dock, huge in size and expensive (200 USD at least).
*may destroy motherboard
Consider how much a 10 GbE card still costs -- this is the same speed! Apparently, it's not cheap making chips working with 10-20-40 gigabit/s line speeds but the market demands low cost. USB C wouldn't get far if a plain USB C to DP adapter would cost a hundred bucks.
You can thank the laws of physics for that because at 10+ gbit data rates you start needing crazy internal clock speeds (which can be significantly higher than the input clocks). Since the distance a signal can travel before it loses too much energy to register logic HIGH is proportional to the wavelength, you have to pack everything close enough while still doing what your specs call for. In the case of 10GigE and USB Type C, this means having to move to smaller fabrication processes than most companies are prepared for or even have access to.
Most protocols designed to be that fast are either massively parallelized to avoid this problem like PCIe/DDR2+ or very expensive to implement as peripherals/silicon like MIPI3/10GigE/USB Type C.
The only strange thing here is how five years ago we already had USB 3.0 and DP 1.2 devices in abundance but ten gig is still somewhat problematic.
That is why we need competitions. Sadly patents also prevent competitions from happening.
Why do you think that is? Is there something in the spec that's holding anyone back? or is it a chicken and egg problem where no one invests in Type C because no one has yet?
If another resistor is used to signal higher currents using that cable could fry peripherals that follow the USB 2.0 spec.
Also, I don't know much about USB 2.0 but I thought we had a whole slew of proprietary solutions for fast charging and all were incompatible with each other. So it was quite messy even before USB C came and made everything even worse.
For charging though you generally wan't to slow charge as it greatly reduces wear on batteries anyway.
I thought heat was the primary source of wear. And fast charge produces lots of heat regardless if it's in the middle of the range or not.
Sorry no good references to offer off hand, this is all just stuff I've been told by engineers and chemists. Take with a grain of salt.
I'm not saying the link above is supposed to be more credible than your post. But it is an alternative view point that resonates with most of what I've read.
For the same reason Tesla recommends you to not over-use supercharging (though this obviously is a sensitive subject), since it puts a toll on batteries - and Tesla unlike most other battery peripherals actually have good and active cooling.
However I'm still not sure heat is the first order effect limiting charge rates. If you consider that the charge efficiency of the cell is something around 99%, the total losses at a 1C rate relative to the thermal mass of the cell are pretty negligible ( nominally, around 3.6mW per A of charge current ). I'd wager that when your cellphone heats up under charge, that's primarily due to losses in the ~90+% efficient charger circuitry. Heat is heat, and that is still not good for the battery of course. I believe the cooling system in the Tesla is primarily for when the cells are being discharged, but it would be really interesting to hear the full story on that from a Tesla engineer.
I found the below link which also seems to imply the lithium plating as well as other chemical effects are the first order issues.
Regarding Tesla supercharging I found this: https://www.teslarati.com/watch-tesla-battery-thermal-manage...
I also heard of issues of other cars (don't remember brand) who can't perform a supercharge - some driving - and then another supercharge because the batteries would overheat (still from the previous supercharge), preventing long trips.
Wouldn't the expensive products you mention that "might work" become more affordable if they were manufactured at a higher rate? (But maybe they aren't because they are harder to sell)
>I am confident that Type-C's market penetration will skyrocket as soon as the difficulty and cost of actually integrating it into a product reaches sane levels.
Isn't the current market of so many low-cost Type-C devices evidence that the cost is already low?
Can't you just hook up the VCC and ground from any USB charging IC to a type-c socket? It's all +5v right? I don't understand why the type of connector dictates how fast a cable should be useful for charging. That seems like it should be up to the simple gauge and length of the wire and thus how much current it can handle.
From what I've heard re: that chart in OP's link that shows the different fast charge rates for different manufacturer's wall warts and cables, most of that is caused by proprietary ICs doing sneaky things like throttling the charge rate when it discovers it isn't connected to an official Huawei cable or whatever through some resistor value going to ground from one of the data lines, or some similar method. Couldn't the IC in the device read the resistance / inductance of the cable and determine through that how much current it could handle? I feel like this is all bad faith shenanigans through proprietary cable DRM. When charging is concerned, a conductor is a conductor assuming there's enough thickness to prevent overheating, right?
So you put one resistor in for a low rated C to C cable, another for a higher C to C rated, and yet another for an A to C converter (indicating that the C end should fall back to the older battery charging spec).
Guess how many fly by night cable manufacturers get those wrong...
the C to C spec charging, or Power Delivery, spec is a whole different barrel of stinking fish. Where you can have everything from 0.5A at 5V to multiple As at 20V running over the same C to C cable.
This is akin to the Qualcomm quickcharge scheme that run 9V over existing micro-USB cables and ports (thus allowing higher wattage without cranking up the amps).
There is an entire protocol to negotiate power delivery (including who charges who) http://www.usb.org/developers/powerdelivery/
Or, if you're really unlucky, it'll attempt to charge your wall. No, I'm not joking: https://twitter.com/chimeracoder/status/941820122406064128
PDF link: http://www.ti.com/lit/an/slva842/slva842.pdf
The problem is... they made everything optional, and thus when a user sees a Type-C port, they have no idea what to expect. Will it work with a device that requires Thunderbolt? Will it drive a DisplayPort monitor? Will this charger charge their laptop? Will this charger charge their phone?
The answer to any of those questions is "it depends". Many Type C ports do DisplayPort. Many don't. Many Type C chargers will charge something that needs 5V, but not something that needs a higher voltage. The end result is that you end up with thousands of devices with the same physical connector that can't actually operate with each other.
My favorite USB C device is Wacom's Intuos Pro pen tablet thingie. It has 3 Type C ports and needs DisplayPort input, USB 2.0, and 20V power. So there is not a computer in the world that you can plug it into with one cable, because I've never seen a computer that can output 20V over Type C. To get around that it, it has three ports and ships with a power brick... so you have two Type C cables going into it at a minimum. So close... if only they would accept 5V power. (I did some measurements and it uses only a tiny amount of power that is well under what can be supplied with 5V, but they appear to have reused the power delivery subsystem from their nearly-identical laptops, which do really need a lot of power to charge the battery.)
I don't see the situation improving. When you have 3 versions of power delivery and at least 4 "alternate modes" to implement, nobody is ever going to implement them all. So people will always be connecting Type C peripherals to Type C computers and being disappointed. And there is no way for the user to predict what works, because it's not like anyone shares specifications of what's required ("this monitor needs 20V and DisplayPort Alternate Mode") ("this computer can supply 100W, and implements USB 3.1, DisplayPort Alternate Mode and HDMI Alternate Mode").
It failed. I look forward to USB Type D that has a more durable connector and doesn't allow "optional" extensions. Maybe that will work. But for now, it looks like I will be struggling with upside-down Type A connectors for the next ten years. Sigh.
But you at least could make a fair assumption that the cable you were trying to use supported all of that (beyond the rare power-only cables). For me the real killer with USB-C is the wide variety of cables that all look physically identical. it's fairly easy to keep track of what features a computer, phone, or peripheral has. but having to keep track of which features each cable supports is a huge pain in the ass. It means i can't just have a box of random USB cables on my shelf, and grab one when i need one.
If USB-C has video and USB it would be pretty great. Video could be optional but that’s easy enough.
But Thunderbolt is a HUGE complication. It should have used some other connector and then this stuff would be easy enough to figure out but you’d still get plenty of benefit.
Of course TB already used the Mini-DP connector, so that would have made video out a mess. And it was too late to fix that.
And leaving all three separate is it’s own mess.
I’m not sure there was a good solution at this point. Which seems like a lack of planning.
So in the end, it's perfectly reasonable to have One True cable/port that delivers power and data over some differential pairs.
The problem is cost and legacy. If we have one power delivery spec that can power a giant TV, it will be too expensive to make a cell phone charger with the same port type just to charge a phone. Similarly, nobody is going to buy a new monitor that uses our new interconnection method when HDMI and DisplayPort are good enough. (People should be alarmed that most monitors come with both HDMI and DisplayPort ports... they do the same thing, but society could not decide on just one, so we pay for two protocols every time we buy a monitor or video card.)
USB Type-C tried to fix both of these problems by just reusing the old protocols and being flexible about power... but it's too confusing for users. The old system of one port doing one thing was much easier to understand. Nobody ever tried to connect their hard drive to their monitor... until Thunderbolt came out and made that physically (but not logically) possible.
For that reason, I don't see a solution.
Yep I did the same thing. I was hugely skeptical Type-C was the panacea for our woes. I'm so glad I haven't adopted anything Type-C yet except the Switch (so really, no interaction with anything else).
They really, really should have provided some way to clarify this mess but they didn't. If colors and icons with the big variety and the space constrains are not viable then provide a standard way for software to give a capability list to the user. Or a diagnostics tool that you can plug into USB-C and it gives you a list of "this port can provide signals A, B, C and accepts inputs D, E, F".
Given the lack of that when plugging together two USB C sockets and the results are not satisfactory any of the following might occur:
1. The signal you want is not provided by the source
2. The cable is not capable of carrying the signal you want
3. The sink can't process the signal
4. It just doesn't work because of firmware bugs or driver bugs
5. There might be interference, there was a Dell problem where lowering wifi signal strength made Thunderbolt better.
Couple that with some error messages that mirror what you wrote in the last part of your post in software whenever you plugged in a USB-C device to a connector and I think the standard could be salvaged and even a relative pleasure to use given the background.
I honestly find it much easier. The simplicity of just not having to flip he connector around 3 times every time you plug something in alone is worth it.
It can be a little tricky to figure out what voltages/options are supported, but this has already gotten much better. This is really just an issue with manufactures not labeling things. On the cable end I feel like this is actually already mostly solved. Cable Matters gives pretty good specs for every cable. It's really device manufactures that kind of leave you in the dark. I'd venture a guess that if the USB consortium actually created an easy to use label with some good information architecutre that this problem would fix itself.
- Smartphone: USB-C
- Laptop: 12v barrel charger
- Kindle: micro USB
- GoPro 3: mini USB
My next laptop will be USB-C charging for sure, so at least the 2 items I use the most can share a charger.
Now I don't mind so much, but when I was travelling/nomad it'd have made my life way easier.
One probably exists for USB-C so you only need one cable.
My laptop plugs into my monitor, provides more USB ports there, and audio out, which feeds into speakers. My dinky phone charger can charge my laptop, which I love. Easier to take around when traveling. No low points for me yet.
Previous laptops I've owned with USB-C could charge over it. This one can't. The model with the smaller screen can, but not the 15 inch. The slightly different model can, but not the one with the discrete graphics card.
Why is this? I assume it's because charging the laptop at full utilisation requires over 100W. But really I have no idea.
I love reversible connectors.
I love being able to use my phone as host or as client (charge a friend's phone from mine? No problem).
Right now though, there are zero cases on the market with USB-C ports on the front, zero USB-C hubs that have all USB-C ports for downstream (I think there is one with two C, two A).
Right now, I have my phone, my battery pack, and my yubikey on USB-C, and if I could find a hub I'd buy a ton of adaptors and switch everything to it. It's so convenient.
It's this chicken and egg thing where even as an early adopter you just can't get it. I have the same problem with DisplayPort 1.4 - you literally can't get devices for it. I have a multi-monitor setup with 4K displays and would love a DisplayPort hub (or better yet, switch), that supported DP1.4 so I could hook them all up down one line (not enough bandwidth on pre-1.4 stuff).
It will not charge from a phone charger though, as it is not powerful enough. I have to use the one that came with it or a similar powerful enough one. I tried the ones in the Apple store and they power this laptop just fine.
This is why. Ignoring the momentum Lightning had from being a few years older, this is a great reason not to switch.
Sadly I know this has become a big problem for people on the new Macs. Plug a USB-C hub in? Now that port doesn’t do Thunderbolt or Display Port. How do you know that? Trial and error.
It does seem like with USB C both the plug and the port are fragile. The plug can easily be crushed and the port, like Micro USB, has the weird plastic tab with pins that can be smashed. That being said the only mechanical failures I ever witnessed with a Micro USB Port were when a cable was forced in the wrong way, I would definitely chalk those up to the user (ex-mother-in-law) being a supreme idiot and not necessarily a flaw in the port.
> Lighting also does a nice "click" when connected.
All of the USB C Cables and devices I own give a very nice thunk when plugged-in, almost like going over a speed bump in a car. There's no question that a connection is made.
I think the biggest issue over all is dodgy cables and I had my fair share of those with Lightning and Micro USB. I've only bought ISB C cables off Benson Leung's recommended lists so I have yet to get a bad one yet though I have no doubt the problem is as bad or worse than with Micro USB.
OTOH, all my USB-C devices, quite a few at this point and some I've had for years, have always worked flawlessly with regard to the port.
Also, all other things being equal, I would rather have the contact springs on the connector rather than the port so that if they go bad I can just replace the cable. I suspect this is what kept happening with my Lightning devices.
At the same time my nearly 4 year old Samsung Galaxy is holding strong without any wiggle room on the USB port.
Be careful, stick something sharp in (avoiding the middle pins!), and get the lint out, and it'll be fine.
it's hard to use a laptop as a laptop when it has to remain still to be plugged in.
So does USB-C, at least on every device with which I've used it. That stops being the case if the port gets clogged up with dust (which is unfortunately as common and annoying as it is for USB-micro-B), but until then the click is quite satisfying.
Your concern is totally valid, but that it’s more about design/manufacturing quality rather than lightning versus USB.
For example, Air buds headphones (Bluetooth) work fine with Android phones. But Bluetooth has been a pain in peoples ass for a decade, and Apple went through a lot of trouble to make the experience very nice when used within its own ecosystem. without abandoning compatibility.
USB-C corrects this by placing more of the mechanical complexity in the plug again - though I’m wary of the thin plastic “tongue” in the socket.
Do you have a source?
Older micro-USB devices suffered the same problems.
You label the damn thing.
The idea behind Type-C is that you don't need a million different cables because everything uses a different physical port. Now you can have fewer cables, and even fewer ports, because the physical ports are consistent. That doesn't mean anything else is consistent! It doesn't need to be!
Users only need to know what ends are what. That isn't hard at all.
I use my computer in a metal shop and my magsafe gathers iron filings, shorts itself and catches fire. I've gone through so many chargers. I've vowed that the next time it happens, I'm going to mill away part of this laptop's case and solder in a DC barrel jack. So much of apple design is about sleekness and cool factor, not actual robustness or effectiveness. I suppose this isn't the intended use case, but I feel like the use case apple has in mind is unrealistically safe and ideal. And rich.
I still like using a mac, as well as a windows machine and several linux distros. If you have a collection of tools in your tool shed, you want to have all sorts of different tools. Not just rows and rows of the same flat-head screwdriver.
Which voltage, and how much current? Put 20V down the wire and you'd blow up a device expecting 5V. Pull 100W through a cable rated for 5W and you'd burn your house down.
As soon as USB-C became the catch-all standard to do all of the things, the complexity was inevitable. It could have been communicated better to the user (proper symbology, color-coded ports, etc) but unless all the devices support all the modes, you are mostly going to be dealing with the minimum standard. And making every device capable of dealing with the full extent of Type-C capabilities (DisplayPort, PCIe channels, etc) is going to get expensive.
If it fits, it sits. If I should only be using one cable for one port then they should be the only ones matching. And, if that one cable happens to lead to a plug in the wall somewhere then having MagSafe or comparable solutions is a lifesaver.
Removing these is beyond comprehension.
It may “just work” for Apple but it certainly does not for me.
Those aren't really cable issues. All USB-C cables support 20 volts and 60 watts. The only cable permutation is whether it's 3 or 5 amps, which isn't a fire-hazard-level distinction, just a small annoyance.
18 months ago we deployed USB3 docks into a sizeable office space. We were able to standardize on a model that works reliably, every time. The only down-side is the dock can't provide power.
Now we're looking at a similar situation and USB-C is the 'obvious' choice. But it's a far more complicated situation.
Some devices will take a charge, some won't, and you have to match up the power input/output requirements quite carefully. It's a more complex landscape than PoE, for no good reason.
Thunderbolt docks are the only ones we've found to provide reliable operation, but they also suffer from weird docking/un-docking behaviour as well as massive security flaws since you lost a lot of the 'standard' USB safe/abstraction layer stuff by plugging in what is effectively a DMA device.
Yuck, frankly. This shouldn't have been so difficult - Just take USB3, introduce a Power-over-USB capability, and bump the speed. But no.
edit: mixed up usb-a and -b. D'oh!
I hear this charge a fair amount, but it seems really unlikely that Apple moved to USB-C solely to "sell stupid dongles," for the fairly obvious reason that you don't need to buy your dongles from Apple. USB-C is indeed still a mess, but it's a non-proprietary mess. As far as I know, Apple's 100% USB-C laptops are the first machines Apple has shipped in their history that don't have a single proprietary connector on them; there's something distinctly ironic about how annoyed we all are over it. I don't think going in on all USB-C was a great idea, but I think it's less of a problem with laptops than it is with phones; I think it would certainly be possible to label USB-C ports in some fashion to indicate their capabilities; and I think a laptop with 2 USB-C ports on each side, like several of Apple's MacBook Pros have, is really not going to create hardships for most users.
(Although they should really have a micro-SD card slot on at least the 15" model. C'mon, Jony, get over yourself.)
"Stupid single port"
Well, again to be fair, there's only one laptop Apple sells with a single USB-C port on it, the 12" uber-thin MacBook. That machine is kind of a radical experiment in some ways, an attempt to build a laptop using the principles of the iPad. (That's not just a pet theory of mine; I've heard from more than one source in a position to know that there were internal prototypes of the single-port MacBook that used Apple's Lightning port.) I'm glad it exists, but I'm also glad I don't own one, and I'm not at all glad that Apple has infected the rest of its laptop line with that keyboard. (Again: get over yourself, Jony.)
This is classic techy naivety.
When Apple marketing looks at what percentage of their customers almost certainly going to buy dongles exclusively from them, what number do you think they come up with? If you're under 50% you are WAY off.
Tens of millions of dog-loyal Apple customers don't even suspect that using another company's dongle is even an option. And how insane is the markup on Apples dongles? Use your head, man.
So while you can charge your 12" MacBook at the same time that you're plugged into a 4k or 2560x1440 monitor, you can't use any damn external drives. They either run at turtle speeds or they randomly unmount or don't work at all.
Don't get me started on the Apple one. I bought one early (for the MacBook 2015) and the earlier series have a USB 2.0 hub. They touted the USB-C connector and how it would carry USB 3.0 (now 3.1). And their adapters, which set me back 80 Euro each (needed both HDMI and VGA) were only USB 2.0. To add to the confusion, they apparently also started selling variants with a USB 3.0 hub, without any clear indication on the packaging.
I still feel incredibly sour about buying a 1400 Euro MacBook with two 80 Euro cables, resulting in poor USB 2.0 speeds. And at the time there wasn't really any choice in adapters. Oh, and it doesn't support HDMI 2.0. So when I got a MacBook Pro later and a 4k screen, the cable was worthless and I had to get an USB-C <-> DisplayPort cable.
I liked Apple computers and I would recommend them to family, friends, colleagues. But their USB-C debacle is one of the reasons (besides the keyboard) why I stopped recommending Apple. If they'd just added two USB-A ports... (I don't care about the few extra millimeters.)
Also, usb-c is super small, just pop like 4 or so on and it won't even effect your design.
This is on a single specific device.
The best port selection with usb-c is on the 2015 chrome pixel laptop. 2 usb-c, 2 usb-b
You mean USB-A.
Just having a single usb-c has caused endless pain, all so apple could sell stupid dongles.
Nobody I know using MacBooks has a particular problem with this. A dongle would be required in most cases to connect to an external display in any case; it's not like Apple are selling more dongles.
My wife has a MacBook with a single USB-C port. Having only one port has exactly zero impact on her. The only thing she uses it for is for charging, and very occasionally plugging in a tiny hard drive to look at her iPhoto library which is larger than the computer's built-in SSD.
Everything else in her lifestyle is wireless. And that's where Apple has been going for a long time. She is Apple's target market for a single USB port device.
If you're the kind of person whose lifestyle or workflow necessitates more than one port, you buy a computer with more than one port. Doesn't seem like rocket surgery. I don't understand why OC is so upset.
As for Apple selling more dongles, I don't think that's what's behind it. Apple would probably rather have the shelf space for higher-margin in-house products than use the space for SKUs from another company. I doubt Apple is making bank on USB-C dongles.
And she's a human bring, not a squirrel on crack, or a nerd caught in a social media feedback loop, so she never "needs" to look at her iPhoto library right now. She can wait 30 minutes for a partial charge to see pictures of her family or cats or whatever.
Are you for real? The margins on their dongles are astronomical!
Which dongle do you mean? Apple has about five different USB-C dongles, each for a specific purpose.
Do you mean the $19 USB-C to old USB dongle? How is it less functional than any other USB-C to old USB dongle? It seems to achieve its stated purpose. What functionality do other USB-C to old USB dongles have that it lacks?
The first Google result I got for the same query was the previously mentioned $19 dongle.
But they're all overpriced, because they cost $.80 to make. That's the essence of the whole dongle thing, the margins on them are gigantic. It's why Apple's iPhone connectors were proprietary for so long, it's why they're moving away from analog headphone jacks, it's why the MacBook only has one USB-C port. I honestly don't know how this is controversial at all.
Is it? You'd need to be using a display that provides neither DisplayPort nor HDMI. HDMI tends to be available on even somewhat older displays, and most modern ones I've dealt with definitely have both.
I also don't want to fry my devices however and I'm scared of these poor quality miswired cables, so I am a steadfast advocate of buying my USB-C cables from Anker.
Do people really think that Apple is making any significant money on dongle sales, and that it was a main reason they decided to go with single type c ports? Most people who own new MacBooks I know purchase non Apple branded dongles anyway. And even those that apple sells are not really bringing that much money to Apple imo
Not really. The entry-grade MacBook is designed to be tiny and portable. One port that does everything fits with this philosophy (makes the laptop thinner and smaller and less complex - yes, it makes a surprisingly large difference).
Want more? The MacBook Pro is for you then with 4 ports - all of which, as they are usb-c, are more multi-functional than usb-a (not b, that's like you see on printers).
You may not be the target customer for a single port but it is a very intentional design choice and makes a lot of sense as most tech people use now supports wireless communication.
In fact you can see you're not the target market - you want to plug in a mouse and keyboard to a damn laptop. Basically you're docking your laptop. Ok, so get a hub. You are an edge case.
Products not making themselves worse for a tiny fringe of the market is a good thing.
Also it’s not just “adding another port”. It’s adding all the circuitry, changing the internal routing, changing the logic board, adding at least one more IC... etc.
For what? An edge case.
Also there is nothing stopping that 4K TV from supporting both video AND power over USB-C.
If I'm using my external monitor I bought a DisplayPort to Thunderbolt/USB-C cable.
If I'm out and about and need HDMI, I have another dongle (but that's no different to my previous Mac which needed a dongle for HDMI as well)
With USB-C the reality is you have to pick two of: cheap, supports every USB-C standard, and has lots of USB-C ports.
That'd be 2 USB-C and 2 USB-A and the 2018 ThinkPads have similar port selection. The 2017 X1 Carbon and Yoga already had.
Why are there no products for that, I wonder?
The ones I've tested, the second one is only useful for power in. You can't actually chain devices off the hub to reduce the number of things you have to plug in.
When USB-C was introduced it was finally a connector that could do power and all your data. The culmination of the idea that started with the Mac monitors with the single cable with 2 tails. No more ritual to go to or leave your desk, wearing out the connectors on all your peripherals.
But we're not there yet. At all.
Even Anker has fucked this up. I can't plug a USB keyboard into their top of the line hub if I plug the power supply into it. Probably because of the overvoltage problem discussed here a few weeks ago.
Since I stopped plugging the power into it I've had no problems. But now I'm back to plugging in 3 cables every time I come back from a meeting.
Instead of getting the USB-PD stuff setup to reject requests, they just have a single USB-C port.
Would it hurt anyone to put two USB-C ports on a smartphone? Thank goodness my phone still has a 3.5mm jack, but some people would like to charge their phone and listen to (wired) audio without having to buy an adapter. And it's not like this is an uncommon use case either, anecdotally some of my friends with iPhones face this issue.
Of course, there's also the fact that extra ports take up more space, and it's easier to just eliminate features that not enough customers care about. But enough people seem to be complaining that it looks like it really is just cargo-cult behavior, just like these companies have needlessly aped Apple on other design decisions instead of trying to pursue other market niches.
Apple went exactly the other way and built a data port into it. And did the same thing with the Apple Watch (the prototypes had an extra set of contacts in the band slot that people were excited about). Disappointed.
Most people probably wouldn't really care for this, and the ones who do probably have portable media players already, so I would prefer to keep the headphone jack. The reality is, though, that USB-C appears to be the future.
Of course you'd still need two ports if you wanted to charge at the same time.
It would probably be more interesting to see smartphones that could use the headphone output as a digital signal, like a coaxial output. We want the 3.5mm output anyway, so why not just let it dump a digital signal to an external amp?
Mobile phones are thermally constrained these days anyway.
Of course, even here I have to add a huge caveat, as I've seen devices that charge at different rates depending on the orientation of the Type-C plug.
But just because a laptop has USB-C ports doesn't mean you can charge using it, here's looking at you, Lenovo P51. This machine is a workstation and requires 130W, USB-C can only supply 100W so it won't charge at all over USB-C. Blah.
Also had no luck even trickle-charging smaller USB-C machines like the HP x360 using a phone charger.
That sucks, one of my favorite features of the new MacBook Pros is extending the battery life using a portable USB battery intended for phones
If you bought a bulb that said "CFL form factor" and it was actually an incandescent bulb that just looked like a CFL, you could arguably sue for deceptive advertising.
I don't think the same information asymmetry exists for lamps that we have in USB C.
Well, I got what I asked for. I bought my first smartphone with USB-C connection by the end of 2106 and I'm on the 5th charging cable at the moment. The cable that came with the phone failed 6 month in and the $20 replacements (reputable brand with full fast charging capability while it worked) barely lasted any longer. I am hesitant to buy anything more expensive as they'd have a limited lifespan too.
Meanwhile all my lighning cables and devices bought in 2014 are going strong. I did have to retire a couple of cables because the ends had started to fray but even those never really ceased to charge.
My impression of USB-C so far gives me the vibes of early SATA ports rated to last 50 insertions. A lot of work is needed to make it on par with USB-B connectors in terms of physical reliability.
A) USB-C PD, USB-C audio, or even just straight-up USB-C data devices, and/or USB-C hosts not adhering to standards.
This is definitely a problem, but it's something that needs to be addressed by device manufacturers, not by the spec itself.
B) Protocols other than USB over the USB-C connector (Thunderbolt 3, Displayport, potentially analog audio output?) not being universally inter-compatible.
I don't see how this one is a real issue. Imagine for a moment that you had a magical morphing port that could be an audio jack, HDMI port, thunderbolt port, or USB port, and it just became whichever one it needed to be when you plugged something in. This is the situation we're in with USB-C multi-protocol, the port on the host device changes identity based on what it's connected to. That wouldn't mean that you could suddenly run your hard drive off a 3.5mm headphone cable.
That's mostly the case with Apple's devices where all ports support all functionality, but there's products in the market where some but not all USB-C ports are Thunderbolt- or USBPD-enabled. This becomes a royal pain in the arse, where you have a bunch of ports that all look like they should support the peripheral you're trying to plug in, but don't, for some reason.
It used to all work, but now with the hub in-line your Thunderbolt drive doesn’t work and your display doesn’t get a signal.
The hub must be broken, right? So you buy a new one. Same problem.
How is any normal person supposed to figure this stuff out?
You’re right. It’s a total mess.
This will eventually become a problem, definitely. Thankfully, it doesn't seem to be much of a problem right now because USB-C hubs are as common as hen's teeth (they're usually C to A, or C to a bazillion things)
Good USB-C hubs that support everything will be quite expensive. They’re basically limited Thunderbolt docks.
I don't have to try to 'key' it correctly when plugging it in and the connections are fast and 'just work'.
I know there's other cables from some brands that might have worked, but after the 3rd one that wouldn't work for my switch I went for Nintendo.
I don't have a lot of USB C devices yet, so I'm hoping they get things ironed out.
Discussion on hn: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16706803
Btw, if you are still using some of these cables coloring one side with a bright colored Sharpie will change your life.
Maybe there will be a nice docking station sometime, but for now, it's dongle city, and picking up the laptop a bit to connect/disconnect each one every time I transition between mobile and desktop-replacement.
Maybe something like https://nerdtechy.com/best-usb-c-docking-stations, though they currently are biased toward providing many USB-A ports.
That's not unique to USB-C. My MacBook has no USB-C ports, just the previous gen. But right now has power, external hard drive, headphones, HDMI and a mouse plugged into it. When I transition to mobile, I'll have to unplug all of those, too.
As you note, a docking station would be the best solution, but it's just another piece of gear I don't want on my desk.
I used to use a 3rd party battery that had double the capacity of the factory battery but stuck out the bottom. It doubled as a small tilt-stand. No cables or ever removing it like you would an external battery pack.
I have something like that now for my MacBook Air. I think it's called a Chug Plug, or something like that. Instead of using Apple's ever-changing computer-side plug, it has the very-stable-so-far electrical socket end connection. So you pop the little regional adapter off your laptop's wall wart and attach the wall wart to the portable battery so it works with every laptop Apple's made this century.
Heavy as hell, but works well.
Am I missing something? You’d have to do that even if there weren’t dongles.
Having a single port for everything is bad idea, because the electrical interface can't possibly be the same for everything.
Making this happen is obviously a really hard task from an engineering standpoint. Device makers have to employ various adapters internally, so that everything works on the same interface.
No wonder manufacturers are suffering to keep up!
At work the only cable connected to my MacBook Pro (running Linux) is a USB-C thunderbolt cable to a monitor which connects all my standard USB-A devices (keyboard, mouse, hub, flash, drives, etc.)
At home I can do the same thing with my HP Spectre or Dell XPS 15 and an LG monitor (XPS complains about voltage, but it still charges).
Viewsonic even has USB-C monitors that are KVMs too. You plug in your keyboard and mouse to the monitor and it will switch them on input select.
Ultimately I'd really like to see a pure USB-C KVM that support DisplayPort 1.4 (no KVM does this currently) so you could have laptop power and full 4k+10Bit all from one cable.
I understand that people who have USB-C video cables are upset that they can't use them; but as somebody who uses the Switch as a travel device, I really appreciate the charging flexibility.
I like Nintendo, but that’s a joke and a jerk move. They have a Tegra platform, why couldn’t they do it right?
This is certainly better than another proprietary thing.
I find it a good news: there is always something you can take as a mission. There is plenty of things to do.
And that's just the geeks stuff, not even talking about the important specie level issues.
This is an idea created by their own hand. Hopefully there will be a Type-C 2.0 or something where everyone has to implement either all the specs or none of them. And all chargers and devices must be 100% compatible.
Never mind that on its face, the C plug is a nice reversible plug. But then someone noticed all those contact points on one side that went to waste half the time, and thought they could cram even more signals down the wire, and here we are...
How so? I'd say 95% of the complication would still exist if you only used the contact points on one side. You would eliminate 3.2 speeds (would anyone notice?), the video+data mode would be slightly different and slightly simpler... and not much else would change.
Do those 24 tiny pins hold up in use?
cycle of life
Technologists ALL want standardization...but can't agree with themselves...and us consumers have to suffer.
It was true then, when this comic was released (I still have a USB mini cable somewhere), and it's true now.
Instead of trying for ONE universal standard... why not try for a "few" tiers of standards? That way instead of a zillion variations of USB-C, we have at most... five or six, perhaps.
"The way out of this morass of formats is to create a single file format that is both flexible enough to anticipate future needs and that is simple enough so as not to drive away potential users."
and now it really is just one more format to have to deal with.
A few years ago, the messaging was along the lines of "just wait, this will just be a temporary pain - Apple is just being brave and taking the industry leader role as usual".
And, in the decades it'll take to sort out, Apple will be able to bolt on and extra $250 per laptop in dongle fees. Genius.
* Steve Jobs Foretold the Downfall of Apple! - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBma82g3Uag&t=0m40s