The standard USB plug hasn’t changed much since it debuted in the 1990s. Sure, we’ve seen bandwidth increases from USB 1.0 to 3.0. We’ve see fancy combo ports that offer both eSATA and USB 3.0 in a single, easy to use port. But USB-C looks quite a bit different from what we are used to. At first glance, it appears to some like the micro-USB ports we have on our mobile phones and peripherals. However, USB-C is actually the biggest improvement we’ve seen to the standard since its inception.
USB-C is actually the USB 3.1 standard. Despite the small numerical bump, there are several huge improvements over previous standards. With an adapter, it’s fully backwards compatible with every previous standard from 1.0 to 3.0. Bandwidth wise, USB-C offers twice the theoretical throughput of USB 3.0, totaling 10 Gbps. USB-C is also a capable connection for tons of standards we’re used to – DisplayPort, HDMI, power, USB, and VGA. Apple enthusiasts may notice the lack of thunderbolt, and that’s because USB-C has superseded the format in the same way that Thunderbolt superseded FireWire.
This change was long overdue in the marketplace as our laptops have continued to get thinner and thinner. We’re seeing laptops hit that market that are as small as 13mm. The old USB connector was 7.5mm from top to bottom just in the socket alone. Additional clearance was needed for the internal connections. Laptops are now shipping with the USB-C connectors, although many of them (including the new MacBook) only have a single port.
Many times, this port is also used for the power cord. How are we going to connect all of our devices to a single port? Simple, with a USB-C Docking Station. Docking stations are not the simple port hubs that we are familiar with. These docks act more as “breakout boxes” turning your single USB-C port into a plethora of connectivity options. USB 3.0, HDMI, Ethernet, and much more are all possible depending on the dock you choose. Let’s take a look at the three most popular options and find out which one will suit your needs.