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back to article Lightning strikes USB bosses: Next-gen jacks will be REVERSIBLE

USB is to get a new, smaller connector that, like Apple’s proprietary Lightning jack, will be reversible. Designed to support both USB 3.1 and USB 2.0, the new connector, dubbed "Type C", will be the same size as an existing micro USB 2.0 plug. That’s big improvement over existing USB 3.0 micro "Franken-connector" jacks which …

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Anonymous Coward

Great USB changes again. At least my dock connector was around for 10 years and now Lightning is much improved and hopefully will be with us for another 10 years.

Makes a bit of a mockery with the EU trying to say everyone must standardise on micro USB chargers - the Apple way of supplying a USB charger and USB to device cable is better still than chargers with fixed plugs. My Apple USB charger can change (almost) anything with a USB cable.

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Anonymous Coward

Odd that...

..My USB cable in my fag lighter in the car can my phone, SatNav and my tablet and I can pull it out and charge the same devices from my laptop and then crazily, I can plug the SAME cable into my usb charger at home.

Oh and it cost £2.

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Holmes

Calm down...

You don't have to change your connector cable until you change your phone. At that time it will likely come with the right cable, probably not the outlet-USB adapter as those are understood already.

And no, reversible is not innovative and novel, it's obvious but previously judged unnecessary. Shows what they get for thinking people might stop and flip the plug over if it doesn't want to go in...

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Re: Calm down...

Shows what they get for thinking people might stop and flip the plug over if it doesn't want to go in...

It's to stop the "flip it over" problem that USB connectors seem to magic upon themselves - Cable won't go in - Flip it over - won't go in - flip it over - goes in.

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Anonymous Coward

>Makes a bit of a mockery with the EU trying to say everyone must standardise on micro USB chargers

Not quite - people have already benefited from that standardisation, since for the last few years it has been much easier to find a charger for my phone; it's the same for many of my friends phones, as it is for some of my other gadgets.

This ubiquity has so far made up for the microUSB connector not being perfect.

However, the compatibility is already broken- I can't use the USB3 cable for my external HDD to charge my phone, for example. The Samsung Note 3 has a microUSB3 socket, and it just looks wrong.

> My Apple USB charger can change (almost) anything with a USB cable.

That's true of most wall plugs shipped with phones these days, though some, annoyingly, only throw 500 - 850mAH. Indeed, some phones don't ship with a wall plug at all.

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Re: Calm down...

It's to stop the "flip it over" problem that USB connectors seem to magic upon themselves - Cable won't go in - Flip it over - won't go in - flip it over - goes in.

A USB connector is a Fermion not a Boson. You have to rotate it 720 degrees before it's back in the state it started in.

(A corollary of his is that no two USB memory sticks can ever have the same internal state :-)

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Holmes

NSS Re: Flip and try again

Until USB, it was pretty easy to work out which way round to try plugging it in, so you didn't have to keep flipping it and retrying.

"Reversible USB" is creating a workaround for the problem as is, instead of fixing the problem. Make the plug feel asymmetric in the hand, and make the socket look more visually asymmetric. Why, back in the day we used to connect our computers using a chisel to carve out lettering on stone, worked alright for generations, don't see why everyone suddenly wants to change it! (wait, er, . . . )

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Re: NSS Flip and try again

>Make the plug feel asymmetric in the hand, and make the socket look more visually asymmetric.

The current microUSB is asymmetric, but its so small that it is not easy to spot immediately. Even if you do, you then have to inspect the orientation of the port you want to plug it into....

Making the plug orientation reversible is the sensible thing to do, and - without knowing the details of its implementation - it might be essential too, since the cable direction is also reversible.

I'd venture to suggest that for someone with poor sight an arthritis, the old 'big Nokia' power connector is easier to use than microUSB.

Chisels? Oh, we used to dream of chisels!

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"500 - 850mAH"

Oh dear AC - you seem to have caught Quirky Spotter Disease.

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Facepalm

Re: "500 - 850mAH"

Whoops! Thanks Handle, I did of course mean 'mA', and that H was in error!

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jib
FAIL

"Lightning is much improved" if you mean it is smaller and reversable yes,but it is still using USB 2 a 12 year old connection technology!

Why o why not use USB 3 which is 10x faster and has been out since 2008 :(

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Re: NSS Flip and try again

The regular USB-B plug is also supposed to have the USB logo on the top side.

Except Microsoft who put it on the bottom so they can have their logo on the top.

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JLV
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double fail

>USB 3 which is 10x faster and has been out since 2008

And, after checking Wikipedia @ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MacBook_Pro, I happily confirm my mid-2011 17" MacBookPro is still using USB 2.0 on all ports. Though it did ship with a shiny Thunderbolt.

Txs, Apple*

* I otherwise rather like that laptop. YMMV.

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Re: NSS Flip and try again

Heavens! Once again Samsung has triumphed with a truly non obvious innovation that nobody else could possibly think of.

More seriously, there's either a Samsung logo or a USB symbol on the upper side of the plug. If you can see your phone display and the printing on the plug, it's the right way up. And I guarantee it was cheaper and easier than designing a whole new plug. Not exactly rocket science, and of course will not work if using what appears to be the standard 'close eyes and thrust' method of plugging a cable in.

Ye Gods I despair of my race sometimes.

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Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

Does this mean it's not going to be hard wired end to end like a lightning cable? or are we looking at really tiny connector pins?

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IT Angle

Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

Wohoa there! We don't want no nitty-gritty technical details; this is a tech site. Oh, wait...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

Given the specification doesn't exist yet, any detailed technical information beyond what has already been published would be mere speculation

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Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

Yep!

The USB Type-C specification is targeted for industry review during the first quarter of 2014 and a final specification is expected to be published by the middle of 2014. Further information regarding the specification and plans for pre-release industry reviews will be provided via the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) website at

http://www.usb.org/developers/USB-Futures.pdf.

- http://www.usb.org/press/USB-IF_Press_Releases/Type-C_PR_20131203_Final.pdf

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Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

>Does this mean it's not going to be hard wired end to end like a lightning cable?

If I had to guess, I'd venture that any 'cleverness' will be built into the controllers built into the devices, rather than the cable. This guess is based on the idea that both the 'host' and the connected device are using the same port.

However, this guess might be wrong, because of the desire to use adaptors for backwards compatibility.

Just speculation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

"Any details on how the orientaion is handled?"

Delicately... we don't want to show any prejudice and offend it or make it feel otherwise uncomfortable!

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Re: Any details on how the orientaion is handled?

"If I had to guess, I'd venture that any 'cleverness' will be built into the controllers built into the devices,"

That's what I think too. A bit like switches and routers auto-configuring for straight through for cat5 cross-over cables like wot they've done for years.

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Ok... a new connector, its not the end of the world! Lets look at the current state of things... my laptop has a plethora of USB2/3 connections on it... I run/charge a selection of devices - phones, hard drives, printers, glasses, game pads....

My usb2 cable wont fit in my mini USB devices

My mini USB cable wont fit in my micro USB devices...

My mini usb2 cables wont fit in my mini USB 3 devices...

My mini USB 3 cables wont fit in my USB 2 devices....

My USB2- apple 30pin wont fit in any of my USB devices!

So... my laptop bag contains... USB2 a-b, usb2 - mini usb2, usb3 - mini usb3, USB-apple 30pin...

The nice thing with USB as a standard is the use of dumb cables... at a few quid each I can have them floating about in the bag... and I wont cry if I loose one somewhere...

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I agree that the ubiquity of microUSB devices and cables is a very handy thing, and makes up for the current shortcomings on the microUSB design. However, microUSB3 is already only partially compatible.

Another change will be worth it in my opinion, as long as it is the last for the foreseeable future, and it implements improvements in usability in addition to faster speeds and greater power delivery.

Who knows, within the decade we might all be using wireless power systems, and wireless optical data transmission or some-such.

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Go

Wireless optical data transfer?

That'd be IRDA, then. It was on more or less every smartphone I owned before 2007, and my current one too. Long may it continue.

IRDA has a Gigabit spec too, according to Wiki!

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Re: Wireless optical data transfer?

Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of 'Li-Fi', which can use light in the visible spectrum. It requires so few photos that it can work in a room that appears dark to humans, and it can use light reflected off walls... though obviously it can't penetrate walls (which can be considered either an advantage or a disadvantage)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Li-Fi

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Obligatory reference

http://xkcd.com/927/

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Anonymous Coward

Eh?

I don't know what your playing at, but I never have any issues. May be my choices are considered and yours are random?

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my laptop has a plethora of USB2/3 connections on it

Does anyone know why there has to be a special USB connector for printers? I can understand the motivation for min and micro USB variants, but what's the driving force behind "just like USB, only square"?

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Anonymous Coward

" what's the driving force behind "just like USB, only square"?"

According to Wikipedia to stop the creation of a ground loop. Do you not have access to the internet there?

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" what's the driving force behind "just like USB, only square"?"

It was also intended that USB A was the host (i.e. PC) and USB B was the peripheral (i.e. printer, scanner, camera, whatever). But then USB flash drives came along and it made sense to put USB A on the peripheral so you didn't need a cable. There should never have been USB A to A cables, but not everyone followed the standard, so the standard was screwed. Plus things like digital cameras, for example, pretty much never had a B connection even though they should have, something to do with the fact it could also be the host (plugged directly into the printer)? The nice thing about USB standards is that there are so many to choose from!

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quote: "My mini usb2 cables wont fit in my mini USB 3 devices..."

You don't have any mini USB3 devices, they are micro USB3. As such, put your micro USB2 cable into the larger of the 2 holes, et voila! you have a USB 2 connection to your USB3 device, and it should charge and carry data just like any other micro USB2 device.

The reason that the micro USB3 connector is such a visual abomination is exactly because it needs to accept micro USB2 cables without modification, so the USB3 bit is tacked on to the side of a micro USB2 connection :(

Shifting to a non-backwards compatible, reversible connector makes sense, but will obviously introduce obsolescence in all the "old" USB connections.

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@ Kubla: Where have you been? USB has always had a square connector!

The square one is a standard type B connector (i.e. the original Type B before we got mini and micro versions).

The Type B is what should be used in devices such as printers, external HDs, Phones, Tablets etc.

With the Type A being used in the Host, i.e. PC, Laptop etc. (The original Type A being the big rectangular one, i.e. pen drive connector).

Note: Some device manufacturers do do this wrong, especially with older external 2.5 HD drives, which often use a type A in the drive, when it should be a Type B at the drive end. (Presumably done as the type B was too wide to fit in the thinner cases).

Phones and tablets have space constraints, so use the mini/micro versions of the Type B, printers have no such space constraints, so continue to use the old square type B connectors instead. The same is true for many external HD caddies, especially with 3.5 inch drives.

There is even an extended version of the original square type B for USB 3, with an extra plug on the side for the extra data connection. (That way you can still plug an older USB 2 square lead into the USB 3 socket, and just access slower).

There are also micro versions of Type A, although I've rarely seen them used, as most Hosts are large enough to still fit the original Type A, such as in a Laptop, so don't really need the smaller forms. (The micro A has square edges, rather than angled edges we see in the type B connectors).

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Re: @ Kubla: Where have you been? USB has always had a square connector!

I was aware that there had always been a square connector. What I didn't appreciate was that the small connectors on portable kit are also Type B. Having never seen any other devices with full-size Type B, I assumed that it was a connector specific to printers.

I know better now. Thanks.

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Anonymous Coward

Time for a rename s/USB/MSB/

"multiversal serial bus" :-)

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Anonymous Coward

Video

“Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable

an entirely new super thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to 2-in-1s, to laptops to

desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices,” said Alex Peleg, Vice

President, Platform Engineering Group. “This new industry standards-based thin connector

delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices.”

- http://www.usb.org/press/USB-IF_Press_Releases/Type-C_PR_20131203_Final.pdf

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Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

Maybe there was a bit of arm twisting needed with Apple but the lightning plug pretty much does already what that thing is going to do in two years just call it USB3.1 and you're done.

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

And at £25 per cable, it's a veritable BARGAIN.

I suspect the hilarious overpricing of the Apple/Intel solution (and the fact that you'd be handing control of the world's sockets to a company famous for randomly changing stuff and then telling everyone to suck it up) is why they didn't go with lightning.

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

Apple/Intel? is it possible you're thinking of Thunderbolt? Lightening is all Apple. Thunderbolt is an Intel technology, though Apple contributed the name.

>a company famous for randomly changing stuff

Apple stuck with FireWire for years. Their 13pin iDevice connector remained largely unchanged for years, over which period comparable devices used a variety of both proprietary and standard connectors for power and data (USB-B, miniUSB, miroUSB) - I have a drawer of old cables and adaptors that testifies to that.

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Coat

Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

The only place I see a lightning connector being useful is in my Dr Frankenstein re-animation laboratory.

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

>The only place I see a lightning connector being useful is in my Dr Frankenstein re-animation laboratory.

What about powering your flux capacitor when you find yourself in a situation where plutonium is surprisingly hard to get hold of?

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

Nahhh, I'm old school! I don't hold with any of this newfangled time travel nonsense. Give me body parts, a big switch and an assistant called Igor and I'm happy.

Oh, and one of those sparky things that go bzzzzt

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

quote: "Oh, and one of those sparky things that go bzzzzt"

That's called a high voltage travelling arc (or informally a Jacob's ladder). You'll probably also want a plasma globe or 2 around the place as well to get the appropriate ambience ;)

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Re: Couldn't have they just adopted lightning?

"Give me body parts, a big switch and an assistant called Igor and I'm happy.

Oh, and one of those sparky things that go bzzzzt"

Ah, nice to see the old school still at play. :)

But I prefer chromosome mash-ups to stitching together body parts, a computerized incubator chamber to hunchbacks, and, of course, the machine that goes 'bing' to sparky things.

Also, I gave up the castle years ago. A clinic in the trendier part of town, catering to the rich and vain's need for elective surgery is much more discreet, and profitable!

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Coat

reliable, as always

http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/science-technology/public-nowhere-near-ready-for-reversible-usb-2013120581747

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Alternatively....

Real, optical lightning, not this copper thunderbolt stuff. Then we can add power and magnetic connectors.

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Where are the juicy pictures?

If ever an article needed a few visual aids it was this one!

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Why is it..

That they HAVE to keep making them smaller.. and ultimately more fragile. USB as it was was 'put uppable with' in terms of fragility, but the micro usb3 is it? that samsung/blackberry use is atrociously open to being snapped/crimpled on/eaten by the dog

The lightning charger of Apple is ok but with it being small is pulled out easily, wears, etc etc

Far from being a luddite, but please can i just keep something how it is..smaller is not better. Designers.. ask your missus.

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Re: Why is it..

Funnily enough, Micro USB is more robust than Mini USB, both in terms of lifetime (insertion cycles) and reliability (positive locking).

The BlackBerry Playbook reverse insertion problem is because it uses a Micro USB A-B socket, into which it is easy to plug a Micro USB B plug the wrong way round, especially when used to the impossibility of doing this with a Micro USB B socket. Bad bit of design, that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why is it..

"crimpled on"

I've never come across this term before... but if I were to try and decipher it, my interpretation would be "when the girlfriend gets it tangled up in her curling iron".

I can certainly see that being a problem for phone charging cables!

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