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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

How to wear nude: The perfect summer to fall transition

Look chic this transitional season with a color you most probably have in your closet

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The combination of cool breeze and sunny skies can only mean one thing: summer isn’t completely over but autumn is almost here. Dressing during this transitional season can be tricky — sweaters and boots can still be too warm during the day, yet the wind can easily blow your favorite summer dress up.

And then there’s color. Summer whites and bright colors have to slowly start taking a back seat to give way to fall’s earthy tones. My go-to during this summer-to-fall transition is a closet staple all of us should already own: nude. All 50 shades of it. Here are some styling tricks you can take note of before heading out this month of September:


Layer with linens

Linen-blend paperbag shorts from & Other Stories

There are very few things more comfortable than linen during the summer. On days when temperatures fluctuate more than usual, wearing layers with a linen piece can be your go-to. Combine it with something warmer like a cotton sweater. You can also throw a blazer on top if the weather permits.

Slip into a slip dress

Slip dress from ARA

Who says you need to give your slip dresses a break this season? You can keep wearing those silk pieces as you transition into fall with a warm turtle neck sweater underneath or over it to turn it into a skirt.

Keep calm and carry the mini bag

Leather mini bag from Looks Like Summer

Mini bags may be the it accessory this summer, but it doesn’t mean you have to wait until next year to keep using them. Neutrals like nude will work with your outfit when styled appropriately for the season, even when the item is no longer trendy.

Power dress with an extra long coat

Nude trench from & Other Stories

Sweating underneath a powerful outfit is neither attractive nor commanding. Power dressing when it’s hot and humid out is not easy, especially when getting to work involves a lot of walking or subway rides. During this summer-to-fall transition, you can bring that light-colored coat from spring and wear it over your work outfit when needed. Plus points if your smartphone (or its case) doesn’t ruin the look, but actually matches with it.

There are many other ways to survive the summer-to-fall transition as stylishly as possible, but there’s nothing like sticking to pieces you most probably already have in your wardrobe — and styling them for the season — instead of buying more pieces that you won’t be able to wear until next year. There is, for sure, something nude in your closet that’s begging to be worn. It’s a staple that works with almost anything, may it be summer or fall.


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

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Huawei Freebuds 3: AirPods with noise cancellation

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Huawei has never been shy about putting their products up against Apple’s. And the Huawei Freebuds 3 is no exception. It’s essentially the AirPods, but better.

The Huawei Freebuds 3 clearly has its crosshairs on the AirPods. One look and you know that’s what Huawei was going for.


 

It’s not the earbuds that some people find intrusive. These fit nicely in your ear without feeling invasive.

The other thing that sets it apart is adaptive noise cancellation. Thanks to the Kirin A1 chip, the Freebuds 3 is supposedly capable of 15-decibel ambient noise reduction. That’s remarkable for its size and easily blows the AirPods out of the water. It even has what it calls the bone sensor. The tech claims it can better pick up your voice through bone vibrations so that your voice comes across clear during a call.

Controls are also built into the the earbuds. Double tap the right to play or switch music. Do the same on the left to turn on/off ANC function.  And much like other wireless earbuds of note, playback pauses when taken off, and resumes once put back in.

These earbuds promises up to 4 hours of playback time and up to 20 hours with the charging case. Speaking of charging, you can juice it up via USB-C and the case also supports wireless charging. Pricing has yet to be announced but the device will go on sale later in 2019.

Oh and, it also comes in black.

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TCL unveils premium-looking entertainment solutions

Beautiful headphones and a soundbar!

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TCL just launched a set of entertainment solutions at IFA 2019. The brand unveiled a premium soundbar, along with new, wireless headphones.

Odd-looking yet beautiful soundbar

TCL put the spotlight on their Ray Danz soundbar. Featuring a front-firing and sideways-firing speaker drivers, the soundbar bend the sound in a particular angle to create a natural and wider resonance, and a crystal clear dialogue.


Thanks to Dolby Atmos, it creates a 360-degree surround sound without the need for extra upward-firing drivers. If you want a ground-shaking bass, connect the subwoofer to the soundbar wirelessly for an immersive experience.

New, vibrant headphones

Growing the brand’s headphone lineup, TCL introduces the SOCL500TWS. Available in four unique colorways — Blue Ocean, Sunset Violet, Sunrise Orange, and Phantom Black — this wireless headphone lets you enjoy music in style. It reproduces powerful audio, thanks to its 5.8mm speaker drivers. Moreover, TCL changes its wireless headphones’ design to fit ears naturally and perfectly.

Furthermore, the headphone can handle up to six hours of continuous playback. If you’re concerned with the charging case, TCL believes it carries enough power that lasts for at least 19 hours. In addition, it has a clever antenna design that lets you stay connected on your Bluetooth, even in crowded areas. Finally, the SOCL500TWS is splash-proof and IPX4 rated, so you can enjoy the headphones under light showers.

For sporty people, TCL offers the ACTV500TWS to complement your active lifestyle. It features a textured surface, providing extra grip. Designed for sports use, it comes in an IPX7 rating for water and sweat resistance. Same as the SOCL500TWS, the headphone can handle continuous playback for at least six hours, and can extend up to 33 hours, thanks to its charging case. The case itself supports wireless charging, too, and can be attached anywhere with its metal karabiner. It’s available in two color options: Copper Dust and Copper Ash.

Rise of noise-canceling headphones

Another headphone in TCL’s lineup is MTRO200NC, a noise-canceling headphone that packs with powerful bass. It features a set of 32mm speaker drivers, delivering accurate mids and crystal clear highs.

Design-wise, it has soft, breathable ear cushions to provide comfort when listening for a long time. But what you’ll love about this headphone is convenience. It has a flat-folding design, excellent battery life up to 20 hours, and fast-charging support.

ELIT200NC

Top-of-the-line headphones under the ELIT line joined TCL’s new lineup, too. Introducing ELIT200NC and ELIT400NC, both headphones feature active noise-canceling technology, exceptional audio, upscale design and build, as well as comfort, portability, long battery life, and fast charging.

ELIT400NC

For active, energetic individuals, the ELIT200NC is the perfect fit, featuring a flexible neckband design and stunning, lifelike sound. Casual users may enjoy the over-the-ear ELIT400NC headphones built with a lightweight, foldable frame.

Pricing and Availability

The Ray Danz soundbar will cost 399 EUR (US$ 440), while the SOCL500TWS and ACTV500TWS will cost 80 EUR (US$ 88) and 100 EUR (US$ 110) respectively. For the noise-canceling headphones, the MTRO200NC is priced at 70 EUR (US$ 77), and the ELIT200NC costs 80 EUR (US$ 88), while the ELIT400NC is a bit more expensive, starting at 130 EUR (US$ 143). TCL’s entertainment solutions will be first available in Europe starting Q4 2019.

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