Computers, tablets, and phones are all going to start using the same connector — here’s why

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In the past, attaching accessories to your phone, table, and especially your computer required a series of different cables.

Monitors require a VGA, DVI, DisplayPort, or HDMI cable. Printers require a USB-A to USB-B cable. External hard drives require either a Mini USB or USB 3.0 Micro type B cable.

Most Android phones require a standard MicroUSB cable, and, finally, Apple products require Lightning cables.

It’s a mess, but one we have been dealing with for decades. Thankfully, those days could be behind us thanks to a new connector: USB-C.

What makes USB-C so special?

It can do everything all of the cables I mentioned above can do, and companies are beginning do adopt this new standard in droves. It can even perform tasks those other cables can’t, like transfer enough power to charge a laptop. One thing to note: The name USB-C refers to a physical connector, the technical name for this new technology is USB 3.1

As this new connector becomes the de facto standard for all tech accessories and computers over the next few years, you’re not going to have to worry about carrying different cables.

The same cable that charges your laptop will be able to charge your phone. The same cable that connects your computer to an external hard drive could be used to charge your headphones. The same cable that connects your computer to a monitor could be used to connect a printer, or even an external USB battery pack.

Yes. Very soon (or now, if you bought Apple’s new MacBook) you could use the same external USB battery pack to charge your phone and your laptop. With the same cable.

What’s the price of entry for this new one-port, one-cable utopia?

Well, that depends on how deep you want to dive into it. If you’d prefer to “rip the Band-Aid off” and buy new versions of your current must-have accessories (if they’re available), you can spend a lot of money. That’s on top of actually buying a computer that has USB-C ports on it.

On the other hand, USB-C is backwards compatible with older USB accessories through an adaptor, so that might be a good first investment. Regardless of which method you choose, the idea of having a single, multi-use cable instead of a bunch of different ones is very appealing.

The only problem people have encountered with USB-C — and it’s a serious one — is that cheap cables have drawn too much power and fried computers. That problem has largely dissipated over the past year, and Amazon has recently released a couple new cables through their AmazonBasics brand that are both safe and affordable.

It might take a couple of years for the promise and potential of USB-C to be fully realised, but when it is, there will be no going back. My advice is to start looking for USB-C options the next time you’re in the market for a computer or tech accessory — it will be well worth the investment.

AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-A cable (6ft), $US6.95

AmazonBasics USB-C to USB-C cable (6ft), $US7.95

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