Computers

Upcoming USB Type-C connector won't have "right" and "wrong" sides

Upcoming USB Type-C connector ...
Existing USB Cables (pictured) are officially on their way to obsolescence (Photo: Shutterstock)
Existing USB Cables (pictured) are officially on their way to obsolescence (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Existing USB Cables (pictured) are officially on their way to obsolescence (Photo: Shutterstock)
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Existing USB Cables (pictured) are officially on their way to obsolescence (Photo: Shutterstock)

Tired of trying to plug in a USB cable, only to discover that you have to flip it over? Well, it looks like that design could be going the way of the 5.25-inch floppy disk. Earlier this week, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group announced the development of the new USB Type-C connector, which will work in any plug orientation or cable direction.

Type-C is designed around existing USB 2.0 and 3.1 technologies, but will be smaller – about the size of a present-day USB 2.0 Micro-B plug. This will allow for its use with increasingly smaller and thinner devices.

The new connector and its accompanying cable will also support scalable power charging. One thing that won't be supported, however, are existing USB ports. An adapter will be required for devices still incorporating that "old" technology.

Industry review of the Type-C specification is scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2014, with publication of a final specification expected in the middle of the year.

The USB 3.0 Promoter Group, should you be wondering, consists of Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments.

Source: USB 3.0 Promoter Group via Dvice

18 comments
Slowburn
How does it aline the connection so that the polarity is the same on both ends?
Australian
@ slowburn It will be done with slight of hand and dark magic. One theory speculates it will be only smoke and mirrors yet many are skeptical. However it is done, there will be no Apple propriety involved which can only be good news for humanity.
Threesixty
Sticking the usb in the wrong way causes more time lost than usb2 vs usb3! If your first try is wrong, you will doubt that it's wrong. Try again, reverse, and try again. Sooner or later it will go in and you will forget to mark it with a magic marker. Type C is a huge improvement!
mooseman
This is great! It's **about time**!
Ralf Biernacki
@Slowburn Seven pins doing the work of four, maybe. It would have the additional advantage of making for a more secure connection by redundancy. I hope the new design will also do away with the unsupported plastic tongue in the socket that is all to easy to break---and being on the socket side, causes much more grief when it breaks than it would on the plug side. I had an expensive 500GB external drive ruined this way, and could barely even rescue the data by jiggling the broken bit back in for one last connection. Not to mention several unusable sockets on various other pieces of hardware. @Australian If you don't even understand the question, the best way not to make oneself look like an idiot is to make lame fun of it. It totally works.
Brent274
Oh Great, so now i'm going either by adapters for all my current devices are get new connectors. I thought Apple changing was bad.
Australian
@ Freederick I'm so pleased the fun police arrived, I was about to have fun. Oh no, wait, I already did! And you just added to it - thank you my online friend! I could justify myself by explaining my completely relevant qualifications to not only understand the question but to explain it. However, where is the fun in that? Alas I must apologise, clearly I offended your sensibilities. I dare not breathe humor in the comments section because to some, it totally doesn't work. Ah bugger it - most people not only get a joke, they like a laugh - apology revoked!
Loving It All
Lovely but, really, could they just have done a better job of signifying which side was which? A color-code or obvious embossing on one side of the connector or the other, on the metal or the lead-in insulation would have done the trick. Let's try lo-tech before resorting to high, shall we?
MarylandUSA
Now you're talking. In one revamp, Type C could usher in three advantages: It would... 1. Replace Type A and Type B with a single type, much as FireWire, HDMI, and Ethernet) have long done. 2. Replace three sizes of Type B-standard, mini, and micro--with one size. 3. Make "up" or "down" irrelevant, so you can more easily connect the plug without looking.
Maverick62
Maybe they could go to 8 pins which would give them redundancy for all 4 connections. If this goes through, (and it probably will with the heavy hitters in the USB 3.0 Promoter Group), I would like 1% of the converter/adapter market... It will be huge.