In the past it was difficult to connect devices to computers. Printers could only connect to parallel printer ports. Also, in those days, the computer featured one parallel printer port. This port offers limited success and less speed. However, the introduction of USB ports offered a long lasting solution to these problems
What are USB Ports?
USB ports are a cable connection interface designed for consumer electronic devices like computers. The full meaning of USB is Universal Serial Bus. USB ports enable connection between USB devices. They allow devices to connect and transmit digital data over USB cables. Also, the USB port is capable of supplying electric power through the cable to devices. This port allows you to charge a device.
The USB enables computers to interact with its peripheral and some devices. Devices connected to USB cover a very broad range. As technology advanced, USB ports are now more functional. Therefore, these ports paved way for lighter and smaller devices. There are three major things that matter in USB. These things are form factors, data transfer speed, video delivery, and power delivery.
Types of USB Ports
As regards form factors, there are different types of USB ports. Each of these USB ports has a unique use case and design. Micro-USB, USB-A, USB-C, and mini-USB are the commonest types of USB.
If you are using the USB-A for the first time, you might find it difficult to plug it in correctly. The USB- A is a rectangular and flat connector. These cables feature USB-A on one end having another type of port on the other. Also, this USB-A is specially designed for charging and transferring data between devices. You can still find USB-A in devices such as TVs, computers, gaming consoles, and different types of peripherals.
These types of USB ports are widely integrated on large devices such as printers or scanners. This connector looks like square. Most connectors are USB-B to USB-A cables. However, some newer devices are now using smaller options such as Mini-USB or Micro-USB.
These types of USB ports were the major standard for some particular portable devices sometimes ago. They were ideal for devices such as smartphones since this USB is capable of transferring data and offering charge. The Micro USB is available in Type-A Micro and Type-B Micro. Also, it is smaller when compared to USB-A. The micro-USB parts are still being used by some manufacturers for their devices since they are less expensive than the parts for USB-C.
The mini-USB is similar to the USB-B, it is a smaller version. Before the introduction of Micro-USB, the mini-USB was the standard for data transfer from devices or charging. Also, this connector has its Type-B and Type-A versions. Today, you will hardly find products that integrate Mini-USB, although these types of USB ports are available in older electronics such as PlayStation3 controller or MP3 players.
These types of USB ports combine both power and data delivery alongside display connectivity. These types of USB ports are the current standard. They are widely integrated in most recent devices such as earbud cases, laptops, smartphones, microphones, and game controllers. The form factor of this USB is reversible, small, and oblong, and as such, you can plug it in either way. This port features 100-watt connection which makes it suitable for data transfers and fast charging. It enables fast data transfer between larger devices.
USB-C ports offer more functionalities and benefits than other types of USB ports. Due to their unique multi-tasking abilities, these types of USB ports can replace all other cables. Also, they can power the most power-hungry devices such as TVs and computers. Also, they can transfer 40 gigabits of data at every second (Gbps). You can use these ports to deliver 4K video to external monitors.
Power Delivery of USB Ports
Some USB cables can supply power or transmit data, although the majority of USB cables can do both. When it comes to power delivery in USB ports, there are three main categories which are fast charge, fast charge, and power only.
The USB 3.0 enables 4.5W charging and USB 2.0 enables 2.5W charging. 10W can charge your phone slowly while 18W can charge your smartphone fast. The power delivery of USB is capable of handling about 100W. This can power devices such as dock stations, MacBook Pro, Tv, and monitors. Also, it is capable of charging compatible devices such as Nintendo Switch or phone.
Also, power delivery supplies the available charge to your device. However, it won’t overcharge it. More recent battery banks can now support USB PD. These battery banks can charge your power-hungry devices full.
USB Data Transfer Speed
USB are available in various size and shapes. Also, USB types feature multiple speed standards. It is important to know that some USB cables are only designed for data transfer while some can only deliver power. However, there are USB cables that serve the two purposes. Therefore, it is necessary to verify the abilities of a cable before you buy it.
USB 1.x was the first USB. This USB is extremely slow, and can only handle 1.5 Mbps. USB 2.0 is slightly old and charges slowly. However, it is still common. It is mostly available in older electronics. Also, USB 2.0 features a full-speed option that is capable of handling 12 Mbps, and a high-speed version is capable of handling 480 Mbps.
The USB 3.0 which is often regarded as SuperSpeed USB is an improved version of the USB 2.0. USB 3.0 offers increased performance and speed, better bandwidth capability, and better power management. This USB offers two unidirectional data paths for sending and receiving data. Also, it supports about 5.0 gigabits transfer rates per second.
USB 4.0, Thunderbolt 4, and Thunderbolt 3 are the most recent entries. In these entries, you’ll get the highest data transfer speeds. Also, these entries offer a maximum capable throughput of 40 Gbps. Another type of data transfer speed in standard in USB-C cables is Thunderbolt. All Thunderbolt 4 and Thunderbolt 3 cables are USB-C. However, some USB-C cables are not Thunderbolt. Therefore, you have to ensure the cable you are purchasing has Thunderbolt if that is what you need.
USB Video Delivery
The ability of a USB port to power a device and transmit data between devices is impressive enough. However, you can decide to integrate USB-C to link to monitors in place of a VGA cable or HDMI. Also, USB-C also offers support to 4K video delivery.
Thunderbolt 4 cables can display 4K content on two different monitors at a time. However, this may not be the use case for a vast number of people. You will need a cable that is capable if 8K and 4K video become more commonplace.
How Do USB Ports Work?
Computers usually feature one or more USB connectors. These USB connectors allow you to connect printers, mouse, keyboards, and other accessories to your computer. Also, the operating system of the computer supports USB. Therefore, the installation of the device drivers is very fast.
USB devices are very simple to connect compared to other connected devices like special cards and parallel ports that you install inside the case of a computer.
Also, modems made use of serial port. However, the majority of computers featured two serial ports at most. These serial ports were extremely slow. Some devices featured their own cards since they needed faster connections. These cards needed to fit inside a card slot in the case of computer. However, it is difficult to install some of these cards.
USB was specially designed to put an end to all these headaches as it offers you a standardized and easy way to link about 127 devices to a computer. It is very easy and straightforward to connect a USB device. The USB connector is usually beside or at the back of your machine.
The operating system of a new device will detect the USB and request for the driver disk. If you have already installed the device, the computer will activate it and begins to interact with it. You can connect and disconnect USB devices at any time.
Most USB devices feature a built-in cable. This cable usually has an “A” connection. Otherwise, the device features a socket which accepts the USB “B” connector. Furthermore, the USB standard makes use of the “A and “B” connectors to prevent any form of confusion.
What are USB Hubs?
The majority of computers available today feature at least two USB sockets. However, the availability of many USB devices today can make you run out of USB sockets. For instance, you could need to connect your mouse, printer, webcam, and keyboard to your computer. All of these devices are running on the USB technology. So, how do you connect all these devices?
The solution to this problem is to get an inexpensive USB hub. The USB standard supports about 127 devices. A hub features at least four new ports. All you need to do is to connect the hub to your computer and plug these devices. Also, you can plug in other hubs in this hub. You can create several USB ports on a computer by linking hubs.
You can power or unpower hubs. The USB standard enables devices to generate power from USB connection. Also, a high-power device such as scanner or printer will have its source of power supply. However, low-power devices such as digital cameras and mice can generate their power from the bus.
You don’t need to power your hub if you have many self-powered devices. None of these devices require extra power, therefore, the computer is capable of handling it.
What are the Features of USB?
The USB comes with some features:
- The computer is the host.
- About 127 devices can be connected to the host, directly or by using many USB hubs.
- The host computer can put several USB devices to sleep when it goes into a power-saving mode
- Low power devices get power from the bus while high-power devices like printers feature their power supplies. Therefore, they get minimal power directly from the bus. Also, hubs can feature their power supplies to power devices attached to the hub.
- USB devices can plugged into the bus and unplugged at any time.
Why USB Ports are now Replacing Serial Ports
USB provides three major benefits. It is better than serial ports in several ways.
USB ports enable the transmission of data at a much faster speed. They work ten times faster than the normal parallel port. Also, they are much faster than serial ports. On the average, a serial port offers a data transfer rate of 150kbps. On the other hand, the USB port offers about 12 Mbps. The data transmission rate depends on the types of USB ports. For instance, the maximum data transfer rate of USB 2.0 is 480 Mbps.
In the past few years, USB ports replaced serial ports. A wide range of industrial devices feature serial ports. This replacement is causing problems. USB ports are usually compatible with most USB devices.
USB ports are more durable than serial ports. The tiny little pins on serial ports can easily break or bend. USB ports, on the other hand, are very rugged.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you know if your USB cable is safe?
Ensure you make use of the USB cable featured by your device. Also, if you will be replacing your USB cable, always get it from the manufacturer of the device. However, if you need to buy from a third party, stick with a reliable brand.
What makes a USB port malfunction?
There are several reason your USB port may malfunction. This could be a result of a broken connection or an issue related with a software. Also, dirt in your USB ports could interfere with performance.
What can be plugged in a USB port?
You can plug several consumer electronics in a USB port. Most consumer electronics like TVs, smartphones, and radios support USB interfaces.
There are different types of USB ports and connectors. It is important to know these types of USB ports, especially in these modern times when different devices feature various types of USB port. You will prevent any damage to your device by choosing the appropriate USB connector.