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USB-C explained: How to get the most from it (and why it keeps getting better) Private

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To make sure the data gets through at higher speeds, always get high-quality cables. They will often have the SuperSpeed logo and a “10” on them to show they’re capable of moving 10Gbps. The good news is that there’s a good chance that this spaghetti bowl of cable standards could disappear with the next rev of the USB spec with a universal USB cable. More on that later.

Speed, power, and video delivery

A big bonus is that on many laptops and desktops, the USB-C specification also supports Intel’s Thunderbolt 3 data-transfer technology. A USB-C port equipped with Thunderbolt 3 can push data speeds to a theoretical limit of 40Gbps. To show how far we’ve come, that’s four times faster than USB 3.1 and more than 3,000 times faster than the original USB 1 spec of 12Mbps.

With increased data-transfer speeds comes the ability to push video over the same connection. USB-C’s Alternate Mode (or “Alt Mode” for short) for video enables adapters to output video from that same USB-C port to HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA and other types of video connectors on displays, TVs and projectors. It pays huge dividends for the ultramobile among us by allowing many recent phones and tablets, such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S7+ and Note and Tab 6 systems, to directly plug into a monitor at home or a projector in the office.

What’s more, USB-C supports the USB Power Delivery (USB PD) specification. A USB 2.0 port can deliver just 2.5 watts of power, about enough to charge a phone, slowly. USB 3.1 ups this figure to about 15 watts. But USB PD can deliver up to 100 watts of power, more than six times what USB 3.1 can. This opens up the potential for laptop-powered projectors based on USB-C, but today it is mostly used for high-power chargers and external battery packs.

Make a USB-C travel kit

The good news is that USB-C ports can be used with most older USB 2, 3.0 and 3.1 accessories. The bad news is that you’ll need the right adapters and cables, and so far, I haven’t seen a complete kit available. I’ve made my own USB-C survival kit that has six key cables and adapters inside an old zippered case.

Make sure you're using the correct USB-C charge cable and bluetooth glasses

For the best charging experience, you should use the USB-C charge cable that comes with your Mac notebook. If you use a higher wattage USB-C cable, your Mac will still charge normally. USB-C cables rated for 29W or 30W will work with any USB-C power adapter, but won't provide enough power when connected to a power adapter that is more than 61W, such as the 96W USB-C Power Adapter.

You can verify that you're using the correct version of the Apple USB-C Charge Cable with your Mac notebook and its USB-C AC Adapter. The cable's serial number is printed on its external housing, next to the words Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.