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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.

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AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review

Watch before you buy!

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If you’ve been holding your money for so long just to buy the new AirPods 3 (also called the AirPods 3rd Generation), this is your chance to finally get one.

But with the absence of removable ear tips and Active Noise Cancellation from the AirPods Pro, would you still consider buying the pair?

Head over to our AirPods 3 Unboxing and Review to help your impulsive self.

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New MacBook Pros, AirPods 3 now for pre-order in Singapore

Time to splurge!

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MacBook Pros

Following Apple’s October event that saw the reveal of new AirPods and the much anticipated new MacBook Pros, the aforementioned devices are now up for pre-order in Singapore!

AirPods 3

The latest addition to Apple’s AirPods family features Spatial Audio and Adaptive EQ. Both features contribute to a more immersive and more surround sound experience as you enjoy your favorite tunes from Apple Music or your favorite podcasts.

It retails for SG$ 269. Delivery begins on October 26. That’s also when it’ll be available in Apple Stores.

MacBook 14″ and 16″

These 2021 MacBooks are the biggest update to Apple’s notebooks in years. Other than sporting the brand spanking new and super powered M1 Pro and M1 Max chips, the 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pros also got significant upgrades elsewhere.

Firstly, Apple has brought back the ports. Instead of just two Thunderbolt 3 ports, there are now three (3) Thunderbolt 4 ports, an HDMI port, and a must for pros — an SD Card slot. The 3.5mm jack also gets an upgrade allowing support for high grade headphones.

The display also gets an upgrade promising 1,000 nits of sustained brightness, as well as Promotion for that oh so smooth 120Hz refresh rate.

Pricing are as follows:

MacBook Pro 14″, M1 Pro, 512GB SSD — SG$ 2,999

  • 8-Core CPU
  • 14-Core GPU
  • 16GB Unified Memory
  • 67W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Comes in Space Grey or Silver

MacBook Pro 14″, M1 Pro, 1TB SSD — SG$ 3,749

  • 10-Core CPU
  • 16-Core GPU
  • 16GB Unified Memory
  • 96W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Comes in Space Grey or Silver

MacBook Pro 16″, M1 Pro, 512GB SSD — SG$ 3,749

  • 10-Core CPU
  • 16-Core GPU
  • 16GB Unified Memory
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Comes in Space Grey or Silver

MacBook Pro 16″, M1 Pro, 1TB SSB — SG$ 4,049

  • 10-Core CPU
  • 16-Core GPU
  • 16GB Unified Memory
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Comes in Space Grey or Silver

MacBook Pro 16″, M1 Max, 1TB SSB — SG$ 5,249

  • 10-Core CPU
  • 32-Core GPU
  • 32GB Unified Memory
  • 140W USB-C Power Adapter
  • Comes in Space Grey or Silver

Delivery begins on October 26. That’s also when it’ll be available in Apple Stores.

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Apple quietly launched a polishing cloth worth $19

Yes, it’s a piece of cloth

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All eyes were on the new MacBook Pro during Apple’s Unleashed event this week. With a new processor inside, it’s no surprise. However, behind all the glitz and glamor, Apple launched a more surprising product behind closed doors. For arguably its most premium product so far, the company launched the Apple Polishing Cloth for US$ 19.

Launched quietly on Apple’s online store, the Polishing Cloth (yes, that’s its official name) can reportedly clean any Apple display with its “soft, nonabrasive material.” In terms of appearance, the new accessory has an incredibly simple design: a white square cloth with a subtle Apple logo.

If you’ve ever cleaned a device before, you might find the Polishing Cloth a bit familiar. Yes, it’s basically any nonabrasive microfiber cloth available on the market today. And it’s worth around ten times a non-branded one. With an exorbitant price relative to others, the accessory might have the most premium price for an Apple product.

However, despite the intense price, the new accessory is already sold out. Currently, the store page pegs the next earliest shipping date at six to eight weeks from now. Some of Apple’s products do require a more rigorous cleaning, according to Apple.  If you have such a device, you might find use for the expensive cloth. If not, well, there are cheaper alternatives.

SEE ALSO: Apple iPhone 13 mini Review: STILL My Favorite!

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