USB-C is the emerging standard for charging and transferring data. Right now, it’s included in devices like the newest laptops, phones, and tablets and—given time—it’ll spread to pretty much everything that currently uses the older, larger USB connector.
USB Type-C has a new, tiny physical connector—roughly the size of a micro USB connector. The USB-C connector itself can support various exciting new USB standard like USB 3.1 and USB power delivery (USB PD).
The USB PD specification is also closely intertwined with USB Type-C. Currently, a USB 2.0 connection provides up to 2.5 watts of power—enough to charge your phone or tablet, but that’s about it. The USB PD specification supported by USB-C ups this power delivery to 100 watts. It’s bi-directional, so a device can either send or receive power. And this power can be transferred at the same time the device is transmitting data across the connection. This kind of power delivery could even let you charge a laptop, which usually requires up to about 60 watts.
Apple’s new MacBook and Google’s new Chromebook Pixel both use their USB-C ports as their charging ports. USB-C could spell the end of all those proprietary laptop charging cables, with everything charging via standard USB connection. You could even charge your laptop from one of those portable battery packs you charge your smartphones and other portable devices from today. You could plug your laptop into an external display connected to a power cable, and that external display would charge your laptop as you used it as an external display — all via the one little USB Type-C connection.
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