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back to article No more turning over a USB thing, then turning it over again to plug it in: Reversible socket ready for lift off

Computer users have moved one step closer to saving a few seconds twiddling with their USB cables now that the port's reversible Type C connector specification has been cleared for volume production. The Type C connector, first unveiled in April, is fully reversible and considerably slimmer than the USB plug we've been used to …

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It'll be good in about 5 years time...

...once we've got rid of most of the devices using the current connectors. Until then look forward to the slight inconvinience of getting the connector upside down being replaced with the bigger hassle of having the wrong cable or needing an adaptor cable for devices with a built-in A plug that previously needed no cable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It'll be good in about 5 years time...

It's people like you what cause unrest.

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Re: It'll be good in about 5 years time...

Well the standard A plug is 12 mm x 4.5 mm so it might be possible to make a flush mount adapter to convert it to the smaller C plug.

I for one will be happy to do away with the awful micro-B-with-3.0-sidecar connector.

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Pint

The nice thing about Standards, ...

"The nice thing about Standards, is that there are so many from which to choose."

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Anonymous Coward

Standards proliferation

Today's video ports are already there.

Bought an HP with VGA and DP outputs, monitors have VGA, DVI and HDMI inputs. Lowest common denominator, VGA. Forced to buy DP (dual mode) to HDMI dongle. Worked out.

Bought an old Mac Mini, its DVI port and available drivers proves to be incompatible with any of five monitors (with DVI inputs) tried. Forced to buy DVI-I to VGA dongle and reduced to lowest common denominator, VGA. Even then, recommend 1920x1080 doesn't work, incompaible with monitor on the same setting. Hopeless.

(Macs sure go obsolete fast. Nearly unusable in less than 7 years.)

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Re: It'll be good in about 5 years time...

But haven't the EU recently mandated the use of the inferior micro-USB connector for phone chargers? A bad decision that will stick one in the eye of your 5 years.

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Re: It'll be good in about 5 years time...

Agreed...

It's a good thing they're working on a new connector, but from the diagrams, while it appears to focus on usability, it seems like a "half way there" solution which says "Sure, you don't have to figure out whether it's up or down" but still has the drawback of requiring too much precision to get it in the right way.

The edges of the connector and the socket should have been tapered a bit to make sure that if you're trying to plug it in while driving or in the dark, you wouldn't have to wiggle and jiggle it to get it there. The major fail of this design is that it doesn't optimize easy insertion as well.

Apple should start licensing the lightning connector to other vendors. I am a convert who used to buy Apple everything until Microsoft put out Surface which is much better, but Apple still kicks major butt when it comes to cables. They did it right. I'd love to see a Surface Pro with a lightning port for charging and connecting devices.

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Re: It'll be good in about 5 years time...

"The edges of the connector and the socket should have been tapered a bit to make sure that if you're trying to plug it in while driving or in the dark"

If you're trying to plug it in while driving, you're doing it wrong.

Doing what wrong?

Driving!

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Re: Standards proliferation

MacMini? Drivers? What sort of monitor still needs drivers? Every Mac/monitor I've used has just worked (in OSX)

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Re: Standards proliferation

Should have just stuck with the USB mini A, instead of the USB mini B. Yes it's technically the wrong one for a device, and it is marginally larger. But it was at least blatantly obvious which way it should go.

Are they making the same mistake of having A and B versions and different sizes again? Or is it going to be one connector of the same size for both ends, regardless of what you're connecting?

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Re: Standards proliferation

"Should have just stuck with the USB mini A, instead of the USB mini B. Yes it's technically the wrong one for a device, and it is marginally larger. But it was at least blatantly obvious which way it should go."

Should have got it right first time more like.

Which meant one "normal" and one "small" connector, reversible plugs, and no flimsy tat that breaks or wears out after a few hundred cycles. No weird and crappy A and B types, no mini and micro. What was going through the mind of the designer?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Standards proliferation

Original Mac Mini (eBay, just for fun, $80) A1103 circa 2005. OS X 10.4.9 Tiger circa 2007, reportedly close to the optimum OS for such retro Macs with PowerPC CPUs. Tried MULTIPLE* modern monitors with DVI connection, got a peculiar video noise (large lines or dots) due to some sort of driver issue (even if the driver is embedded in the OS as such). (*We have many monitors in our dozen-PC household.) Eventually dug out an older DVI equipped monitor from the same 2007 era; plug and play and worked perfectly.

To use a newer monitor, must use VGA. DVI does not work properly. No obvious workaround; likely need to hack the OS to make use of a newer ini file equivalent.

Maybe I should drag it into the Genius Bar and see what they think. LOL.

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Re: Standards proliferation

Which meant one "normal" and one "small" connector, reversible plugs, and no flimsy tat that breaks or wears out after a few hundred cycles. No weird and crappy A and B types, no mini and micro. What was going through the mind of the designer?

Let's separate these 2 issues.

First, having an A and B type connector. This was quite a sound design approach. The idea was that A's were hosts and B's were devices. Nothing wrong with that, and it stopped people from trying to plug, say, a USB flash drive up to a USB card reader thinking it would just copy files between them. All connections are from a host port to a device port, so all cables should have one A and one B end.

Now, the issue about standard, mini and micro ports is different. Initially, there was only the standard, full sized USB (in A and B). It was decided that these were too big for many devices, so mini USB was born. Then it was decided that even that was too big, so micro was born.

You seem to assume that the entire USB standard, as it exists today, was thought up in one fell swoop. Far from it: The USB standard has evolved over time, and this has entailed some nasty hacks to bring in new features (take USB3, especially micro USB 3). They have done this in an attempt to maintain backwards compatibility, and to keep it "universal".

Type-C is a logical consolidation step. It could probably have been done better, but it's an evolutionary step, as USB advancements have always been.

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Anonymous Coward

You know you want it

> "The nice thing about Standards, is that there are so many from which to choose."

Go on, quote XKCD 1406, go on... you know you want to. >:-)

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Re: Standards proliferation

Yes, but the host/device idea got screwed up when USB sticks came along and it made sense to put an A plug on it, so it could plug directly into the host without a cable.

It makes even less sense now, since our phones can be both hosts (plugged into a USB drive), and devices (plugged into a PC). I hope someday soon my phone will be able to plug into a camera or printer and pretend to be a PC host as well, as that would be very useful.

I agree it made sense to begin with, I just hope they aren't planning on repeating it.

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Re: The nice thing about Standards, ...

""The nice thing about Standards, is that there are so many from which to choose.""

I see what you did there. Droll. Very droll. And very true.

Upvoted.

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Re: Standards proliferation

Re Dr. Mouse's "All connections are from a host port to a device port, so all cables should have one A and one B end."

Unless you have an Android Phone which allows you to plug USB storage devices to it.

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Re: Standards proliferation

Maybe this will help with your Mac Mini PPC/DVI issue:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2723110?start=0&tstart=0

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Re: Standards proliferation

So... a downvote, but no reason why. And yet all I stated was a simple fact.

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Re: You know you want it

If he won't I will.

Universal Connector Box

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Meh

Re: Standards proliferation

That reminds me, I have a Tesco bag full of Mini A cables that need to go to landfill.

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Re: Standards proliferation

My Nokia E7-00 can do it, and that's not an Android...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: You know you want it

I was thinking more along the lines of XKCD 927

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Re: Standards proliferation

Yes, but the host/device idea got screwed up when USB sticks came along and it made sense to put an A plug on it

That doesn't screw it up at all. An A plug goes in to an A socket on a host. If it had an A socket on it (like the touchscreen monitors we have for our tills at work), that would screw it up.

As for the whole USB-OTG issue, the devices should have a Micro-AB socket, which can take either a Micro-A plug (when acting as a host) or a Micro-B plug (when acting as a device). Most don't, but it is not the fault of the standard if people don't follow it.

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Re: You know you want it

Soon there'll be an XKCD 1406 just for USB...

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Goodbye WiFi and wireless devices if you try to use USB3 ?

-- Intel's OWN report here --

http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/io/universal-serial-bus/usb3-frequency-interference-paper.html

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The message of that paper is, make sure your USB3 harddrive actually has a case, and whoever made your device with a USB3 port has actually followed the specifications for shielding the port.

They did show that if you run your USB harddrive with no case, and remove all the RF protection from around your motherboard, and put your wireless mouse antenna right next to the port, it might get a bit laggy.

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Size

The size is a bit of a concern for desktop-type applications. Smaller makes sense for a lot of things, but the standard A and B connectors are the right size for desktops. Now instead of which way does it go, the problem will be 'where's the damn port... no... that's an air vent... no... an ethernet port.... no... that's a hole for screw.....no... that's just a gap in the chassis.... ouch... that was a fan... etc."

Unless I'm misunderstanding and the 100W workstation variants aren't 8.3x2.5mm.

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Happy

Size Part 2...

A size 1 arist round brush and a small bottle of acryllic paint color codes both the cable end and the device...

IMHO= the odd dot of color, even on military gear has never been questioned, ever... having that MFP (modified for parts) stamp w/caramine ink jar helped...RS.

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Re: Size Part 2...

The odd dot of colour isn't going to help one single jot if, as I suspect Andrew meant, you're reaching around to the back of the PC, effectively blind, trying to find where to plug in the lead.

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Re: Size Part 2...

I've always been surprised that the port labels back there aren't written in Braille.

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Pint

Re: Size Part 2...

I tried that. I put ink dots on the top of some USB connectors. Especially the Micro USB used for charging things. Turns out that some gadgets have upside down sockets. * One can't win for trying.

(* This is the usage case where one has many gadgets and one wishes to share one charger and charger cable with the several Micro USB charge port gadgets. Each gadget gets recharged on different days or nights as required. Bedside table already has four chargers going, even with such sharing.)

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Boffin

Re: Size Part 2...

If you've got the fingertip sensitivity to read braille, you should be able to feel which side of the plug/socket has the plastic strip in it (a blind friend of mine, who is an experienced braille user, does this without difficulty).

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Re: Size Part 2...

The USB trident should be on the top-side of the connector, and USB ports should have the top-side upwards, when the device is lying naturally. However, not all devices and cables follow this standard, and if the USB port is sideways, it's not clear which way is top.

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Thumb Down

I don't need another damn connector type

USB connectors already come in so many shapes and sizes, why the heck do we need yet another variant? Type A plugs will still remain the default especially on desktops, if for no other reason then because of compatibility. I don't even really see the ones who can make big money out of this (the converter manufacturers, maybe?), so I simply cannot fathom why this idiotic move was necessary.

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Re: I don't need another damn connector type

No other USB connector delivers anything like 100 watts. You don't really want to use one of the existing connectors, so you may as well make it not suck while you're at it.

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Headmaster

pip25 Re: " why the heck do we need yet another variant?"

I think that the potential answer to that lies in:

"is similar in size to the current breed of micro-USB plugs"

This would permit the implementation of the equivalent to full size type B USB 3 ports in modern highly mobile/slim form factors. That would, IMHO, be a genuine advantage.

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Go

In Service for 2 Months - Yum...

Costco - USA sold me a 1TB external drive for my laptop / USB-2 port...2 months ago... the port on the storage device was one of these 'new' devices, a check in the current L-CON catalog finds all the necessary cables / stuff to make them work anywhere...

IMHO= compaired to that stupid jack on my Samsung cell phone, this new thing is a no-brainer... we could have had this at the gitgo if it wern't for the Bean Counters...

caveiat= the US military has been using turnover proof AC generator cable plug sets for over 50 years, the idea was always there, No One wanted to get the few extra pins needed past the Engineering Bean Counters... Size and Fit is something the Bean Counter Folks seldom look at as it doesn't involve a possible savings of build money (their reason to exist)... i've found out that 'Doesn't Work' or 'Won't Fit' gets past those folks every time... but that is another story...RS.

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Re: In Service for 2 Months - Yum...

I have one word for this - what?

Type-C connectors aren't out yet. No-one has implemented them on any hard drives yet, as it has only just been finalised.

Are you referring to the USB 3 Micro-B plug? It entirely different from the USB Type-C connector. Or are you referring to one of the various proprietary USB-like connectors?

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Re: In Service for 2 Months - Yum...

Don't be so OCD. He's talking about the concept.

Reversible connectors as a CONCEPT and applied in other engineering designs have been around for literally generations, let alone connectors that are obvious from the outside which way is up.

USB as it exists today is FAIL.

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USB Type A has a quantum spin of 1 1/2

I'm looking forward to this new plug. No more of this:

1) Attempt to insert USB Type A plug blindly into the back of a device (doesn't go in)

2) Flip plug 180 degrees. Still doesn't go in.

3) Curse

4) Flip plug 180 degrees again. NOW it inserts.

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Pint

Re: USB Type A has a quantum spin of 1 1/2

You're holding it wrong.

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Re: USB Type A has a quantum spin of 1 1/2

You forgot the bit where you change cable, underwear and religion, still fail to get it working...

...then go back to the original setup with a world-weary look on your face and it works first time.

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Pint

Re: USB Type A has a quantum spin of 1 1/2

Downvotes for a hilariously funny, smart phone themed joke?

What a waste, using good jokes on this crowd... Sigh...

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USB isn't turning out to be that... Universal is it. You've got to have the right socket, and the right gender, and then every few years they invent a new socket that doesn't work with the old ones, so you have to go and buy more adaptors and cables....

Now there's another one. Woo.....

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At least they're all backwards compatible as long as you can physically connect things. A USB 3 disk will work fine (abit slowly) in a computer with only USB1, and a USB1 device will work fine in your USB3 equipped computer.

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USB itself is universal. The bus is the same everywhere. Its just the connector part which has got a little mixed up...

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So then the question is...

Does anyone know what shape the Apple and Samsung variants will take?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So then the question is...

not sure about samsung, but I'm pretty sure the apple variant looks like this...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_(connector)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So then the question is...

and how long ago Apple invented it

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