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The universal USB charger

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Universal Serial Bus (USB) connectors are ubiquitous in both computers and mobile devices. As much as they are universal in computers, they are not so in mobile devices like mobile phones and cameras.

The USB ports on your computer look the same; they are called USB-Type A – Female. Take the USB cable that connects to your printer, the side that connects to your computer is USB Type A-male while the other that connects to the printer is USB-Type B-male. It does not matter whether your printer is HP, Canon, Samsung, or Lexmark the cable is the same.

Although they look the same, the printer cables could be different in terms how fast they transmit data. USB 1.1 delivers 12 Megabits per second (Mbps). USB 2.0 transmits 480 Mbps while USB 3.0 cruises at 5,000 Mbps (5 Gbps). One computer can host all the three or two types of those USB ports.

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There are times that your computer will tell you that a device you plugged on could be faster on a different USB port than the one it is plugged on. What that means is that you have probably plugged a USB 2.0 device on a USB 1.1 port. This usually is the case when you plug in a device on the front USB port of your desktop.

The USB port on your computer does not only transfer data but is also is a source of power for charging your phone. In as much as different USB versions deliver different data transfer rates, they also have different power draws. Both USB 1.1 and 2.0 have ability to supply up to 0.5A while USB 3.0 ports provide a maximum of 1.5A. This does not mean your phone would blow up if you plugged a USB 2.0 charger on a USB 3.0 computer port; your phone would just charge much faster.

Mobile devices like phones use smaller versions of USB ports and cables called the micro-USB. The problem is that there are a lot of variations of the Micro-USB. The issue is that companies practice techie ‘xenophobia’ when it comes to this standard; each wanting to use own trademarked standard and madness persist. For example Samsung has an obsession for the larger Micro-B USB connectors.

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To add to the confusion, the mobile phone makers do not label the USB connectors; you have to guess your way around. If you have two phones from different manufacturers, the chances are that you end up with two different USB cables.

The technology industry has now coalesced around the Micro USB standard for phones with the introduction of the USB –C connector. This is a truly universal connector. It is faster offering twice the speed of USB 3.0; if you want to know, this is USB version 3.1. It can draw up to 3A. This means that data transfers happen at terrific speeds of up to 10Gbps and charging talks no time at all.

The USB-Standard connector is as easy as you can slot the connector either way and behold, it will work. Apple joined the USB –C with on its new MacBook while Google joined the USB-C club with its inclusion on Chromebook Pixel.

Unlike the car industry, computer technology has always been about universality. That is what makes it so great

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