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C is the key: Explaining USB Type-C

What really makes this new standard special

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For years, people have grown accustomed to using USB ports for almost all of their devices. Whether you need to charge your phone using your computer or use a controller to play games, you can always count on a USB port to be readily available for you. But 2018 was the year of change and innovation, and the USB port you know and love welcomed change in a big way.

Introducing: USB Type-C, the newest port added to the family. Its round shape brought many new uses and functionalities to your ports. But, how different is it from its much older brothers? How have companies revolutionized its use in mainstream devices?

What is this USB Type-C port?

The USB Type-C (USB-C) port is a not-so-recent discovery in the world of tech. The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) developed this USB port back in 2013, and launched it into mass production the following year. The connector is a reversible oval shape, much different from the usual rectangular shape of the previous generation. Its reversibility allows any orientation of the cable for transferring files or charging your device.

USB-IF developed USB-C following the USB 3.1 standard. Such a standard was particularly used because of its faster transfer speeds and charging capabilities. With a USB-C port, you can transfer an hour-long movie in less than 30 seconds, provided you have the appropriate connector for it.

Computer and smartphone manufacturers have incorporated the USB-C port in most of their devices. One of the early adopters of the new technology was Apple, with their redesigned 12-inch MacBook in 2015. Other computer manufacturers followed in the later years, especially with the release of the Thunderbolt 3 technology used for gaming machines.

It’s the younger, faster and more all-around sibling

USB-C has been around for the past four years, and it has gradually developed into an all-around port for users. Alongside Thunderbolt 3, the USB-C port posts the highest data transfer speed across all the available USB connections in existence. Not only that, USB-C ports these days can now connect your devices to external GPUs and displays, and charge your devices. Most USB-C ports even support fast charging for smartphones.

While the technology behind it is supported by a USB 3.1 standard, it’s still very much different from other USB ports that use the USB 3.1 protocol. For starters, the USB 3.1 standard found in USB-C ports are USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, which offer twice as much performance in data transfer as USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports. Most of the Gen 1 ports also use an older USB Type-A standard, which works for most of your gadgets and peripherals today. However, you would need more adapters for other functionalities, like displaying to a monitor.

But the USB-C port is a far cry from the old USB 2.0 and 3.0 protocols, which have been in existence for 14 years (and counting). Data transfer speeds for those two protocols are significantly slower compared to the USB-C port. An hour-long movie would ideally take around one to two minutes on a USB 2.0 port. Also, older USB protocols don’t really allow you to power up devices that need more electricity. So, charging devices on them might not be as fast.

Supercharged with Thunderbolt 3

So, you’re probably wondering what really makes a USB-C port just that fast. It’s not so much that it’s round, or that it’s new; rather, it’s the technology inside it. Late 2015 saw the arrival of the new Thunderbolt 3 standard specifically for USB-C ports. It first started out in most Windows laptops before making it to the 2016 MacBook Pro and several gaming motherboards.

What Thunderbolt 3 does for USB-C ports is to significantly increase its capacity and capabilities by a mile. We’re talking faster file transfer, heightened gaming experiences, and being able to plug in 4K displays for clearer images. Thunderbolt 3 also allows much bigger devices to be charged at a controlled rate. This is mostly evident with the MacBook Pro, several high-end Ultrabooks, and most recently, the 2018 iPad Pro.

The charging capacity brought about by Thunderbolt 3 deals with a tweak to how USB power delivery works. USB power delivery standards state that each USB standard has specific conditions that must be met to power up devices. Early versions of USB ports only allow a small amount of electricity (2.5W) for delivery, while USB-C allows for the full 100W.  Basically, you went from just powering up your mouse and keyboard to charging your entire laptop.

What’s to come for USB-C?

At this point in time, you’re already living in the future that the USB-C port hopes to achieve. Suddenly, you can simply bring a USB-C cable around, plug it into a powerbank, and you can already charge your expensive MacBook. More and more devices are starting to adopt USB-C because of its potential to enhance your tech experience as a whole.

However, people still find it difficult to switch to USB-C, and for good reason. Most devices continue to use a USB Type-A or micro-USB connector, especially gaming controllers and peripherals. Also, they can argue that the old ports are more accessible. In a not-so-distant future, using a USB-C port could potentially replace a phone’s headphone jack.

The future of USB-C is still uncertain. Companies will iron out the new technology more so it can become mainstream for the future. Let’s just hope that by the time that happens, there won’t be a USB Type-D yet.

Accessories

Ekonic celebrates Batman’s 80th anniversary with limited edition devices

Must-have for Batman fans!

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To celebrate the Batman’s 80th anniversary and honor its pop-culture legacy, DC Comics and lifestyle brand Ekonic joined forces for an exclusive collaboration to release a limited edition Batman-themed devices that capture the nostalgia of the iconic superhero.

For the collection, Batman has been depicted in a visual roundup on a set of power banks and Bluetooth speakers, featuring his most iconic moments on the pages of comic books such as The Dark Knight’s distinctive look penciled by Jim Lee in the Hush story arc and Greg Capullo’s variant cover for the 1000th Detective Comics.

Other designs drew inspiration from the noteworthy iconography of Batman throughout the years, containing the different iterations of his signature logo and recognizable cowl from the 1950s to the present time in pop-art-styled graphics.

Batman is well-known for his reliable and expedient gadgets, and Ekonic gave the media an opportunity to examine the latest addition to his long list of useful tools found in his utility belt at the collection’s official launch held last Friday, November 15 at the DC Super Heroes Café in Mandaluyong City.

In a slim profile with an art design printed in high-quality matte cover, the power bank 10000mAh battery with 1A/2.1A outputs, allowing the user to charge two devices at the same time.

On the other hand, the Bluetooth speaker can blast sound that fills the room with its 3W output. In addition, it can stream non-stop music with its 3.5 millimeter aux port or from a distance of up to 10 meters with a Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity. Lastly, the device has a built-in 4000mAh battery capacity.

The event was also attended by Filipino illustrator Philip Tan, who has worked on major DC Comics titles such as Batman, Superman and Justice League. He hosted a small meet-and-greet session with the local fans outside the restaurant.

The collection is available at DC Super Heroes Café and in all branches of Electroworld and Abenson for PhP 998.00.

Batman has been Gotham City’s protector for decades–eight whopping decades, to be exact. Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger in 1939, the Caped Crusader made his first appearance in the 27th issue of Detective Comics, which would later be simplified to its initials DC.

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How to wear green: Autumn’s most underrated color

Some tips on how you can subtly incorporate green to your looks this season

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Despite everything I see on fashion editorials and on my feed, it’s always this time of the year when I become obsessed with green.  When I think of fall, colors of rustic countryside and foliage come to mind. I imagine deep but vibrant hues — earth tones like rust, mustard, a deep red, and the entire brown spectrum.

This is why there’s no more perfect time to add green pieces to your looks than during autumn to winter — it’s not anyone’s go-to. Here are some tips on how you can subtly incorporate green to your looks this season:

Play it safe with olive

If emerald green is too much for you to pull off, start with moss, olive, or army green first. It’s almost like wearing a neutral but it still adds a hint of color to your outfit. A parka in this color is an easy choice that will go well with a lot of casual outfits. For when you want to look a little bit more dressed up, try wearing a mini bag in this shade.

The girl in the green scarf

Adding a splash of color to a neutral outfit with accessories is the easiest trick to pull off on anyone’s styling book. Make a green accessory the focal point of an otherwise ordinary everyday look. If you have a signature styling item, get it in an emerald green color. I’ve been obsessing over silky scarves lately. I wear them with my ponytail, as a headband, or on my purse.

New phone, new color

If you’re due for a smartphone upgrade, get a new color option instead of black. A lot of smartphones this year come in a new shade of green, including the new iPhone 11 Pro. Like a statement necklace, it can be a great focal point for your outfit. When there’s already too much going on with your look and you’re not confident enough to pull off color blocking, it’s best to cover it up with a neutral case that matches your purse and shoes.

Go green, all-green

Here’s yet another tonal dressing suggestion. While I love an all-nude look to stand out in a sea of tans and blacks this season, all-green is my next go-to — and it’s probably my favorite. It’s what started my love affair with tonal dressing to begin with. An all-green outfit is not as feminine as nude, but it’s just sophisticated. It’s not as much of a statement as wearing red from head to toe, but it will stand out just as much in a sea of blacks and tans.

Green was never something I would wear growing up; my teenager self never saw it to be flattering or versatile. Age changed that. It’s still a tricky color to wear — especially the bolder, more vibrant shades — but when styled right, it can be the most polished look you’ve pulled off in a long time.


HOW TO WEAR SERIES

How to wear red: 3 stylish pairings to try

How to wear pink: 4 ways to look chic and grown-up

How to wear nude: The perfect summer to fall transition


SEE ALSO

5 ways to instantly elevate your look

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10 gift ideas for the new mom on your list

New moms need all the help they can get as they begin the challenging journey of parenthood

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As a new mom myself, I already have a list of all the baby essentials that I’ll need for the initial stages of raising my newborn. This includes the crib, car seat, pram, sterilizer, milk bottles, pacifiers, bottle warmers, among others. This makes getting gifts for the new moms on our list a little bit tricky.

Of course, she already has the best gift she can ever get this holiday season — her new bundle of joy. However, new mothers could still use all the support and help they can get as they begin the challenging journey of parenthood. One way to extend that support is by getting them something thoughtful this holiday season.

Here I would like to share some of the tools and gizmos that I discovered to have been unexpectedly necessary. If you’re looking for gift ideas for a sister or friend who just gave birth, I guarantee any of these would be highly appreciated.

1. Sleep support

One of the best things that you can try and give a new mom would be a good sleep and that’s only possible if the baby is sleeping well too. Swaddles, wearable blankets, sleep aids, rocking cribs — anything that can help soothe and provide a comfortable and safe sleeping environment for the baby will be greatly appreciated. The Cosydream Smokey Baby Sleep Aid by Babymoov and the Little Seeds Swaddle Wrap Newborn Blanket are both great options that have helped put my baby to uninterrupted sleep.

2. White noise machine

Some adults put on white noises if they need help sleeping. The same works for babies too. A white noise machine is another great sleeping aid. My baby personally sleeps better with it. Although a digital music streaming platform subscription, a smartphone, and a Bluetooth speaker can do the job, you might want to keep your phone with you and leave something like the Hatch Baby Rest or Marpac Dohm Classic White Noise Sound Machine in the nursery.

3. Diaper bag

My personal favorite is the 5-in-1 20L Smart Baby Diaper Backpack with Changing Pad by Vianetic. It allows customization of the way baby’s essentials are organized, has insulated bottle bags, bottle pockets, a changing pad, stroller straps, multiple storage pockets for the parent’s essentials, and a laptop compartment. The modern, sleek, minimalist, and unisex design is a major plus since my husband enjoys sporting it, too.

4. Air humidifier/purifier

Babies are vulnerable to sickness-causing bacteria that thrive in the air, which is why I keep the cute Elodie Unicorn LED Diffuser 2.0 by Smoko in my baby’s nursery as a humidifier and a night light in one. The Boneco Air Purifier P340 is also in our living room where we accept and entertain guests. Both tools operate quietly so baby’s sleep is uninterrupted. Dyson’s Pure Cool Me is also a great option to keep the parents’ bedroom air clean and bacteria-free.

5. Nursing sports bra

A new mom’s health and fitness should not take a backseat just because she has to take care of another person full-time. It is a must for new mothers to stay fit as they care for a growing person. There are many exercises one can do that incorporate the baby while burning calories. The Love & Fit nursing sports bra helps with this as it allows me to get back in shape and breastfeed the baby on demand. The best part is it comes in several styles and colors so you will not run out of options for gifting.

6. Hand vacuum

You don’t know real multitasking until you become a mom. While it’s important to give babies 100% attention, it is equally important to keep the house clean and dust-free. The Shark Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner is rechargeable and allows me to carry the baby in one arm and vacuum the house with the other. There’s also the Dyson V11 that has different attachments so I can get to cleaning even areas that are hard to reach. They’re both sleek and stylish as well so they’re not an eye sore when left visible in a corner.

7. 3-tier trolley cart

Keep baby’s stuff neat, organized, and mobile using a 3-tier trolley cart. All the baby’s essentials (diapers, wet wipes, grooming kits, toiletries, creams, bottles and outfit for the day, etc.) — are kept in a cart and can be rolled around the house wherever it’s needed. The RÅSKOG trolley from IKEA is an inexpensive yet versatile option.

8. Infant car seat mirror

I didn’t expect this to be one of my best buys. I stay with the baby in the back seat with his rear-facing car seat while my husband drives. Whenever I have to quickly step out of the car, this gives me the peace of mind knowing my husband can keep an eye on the baby using the Onco Baby Car Mirror.

9. Colic and reflux relief comfort cushion

Whenever the baby is unsettled and crying, he might be experiencing discomfort due to colic and reflux. Something like the Babocush can soothe and provide relief to the baby would be a dream gift for any new mom.

10. Cradle rocker

Bouncers provide a good distraction for the baby but they can get tired of it after a while. When that happens, you have to pick them up again. What new moms everywhere need is a cradle that can effectively soothe a baby. Something like the battery-operated Graco Simple Sway Baby Swing vibrates and swings while the Nuna Leaf Curv swing doesn’t need electricity and could last your baby until he or she is 5 years old.

Having a newborn is both rewarding and difficult. While it’s true that it’s impossible to be fully prepared for parenthood, equipping new moms with support through tools and unexpected essentials will get them pretty close.

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