Three Things to Know About USB-C adapters

Not your grandma’s USB.

To non-geeks, USB-to-USB-C adapters may seem like just another cord to keep track of or hide from the cat’s curious teeth. But this adapter is more than that: it’s a transitional device that lets users take advantage of the latest advances in data transfer without upgrading to new devices. The USB-C port design was announced in 2014, but took a bit for widespread adoption. If you have a newer laptop, it’s the smaller port on the side that probably sits between the power supply port and the old school USB port (if your laptop still has one). And that little hole makes a big difference.

This cord yields super speedy data transfer with a flexible, durable design so you don’t have to replace it next month. JSAUX

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USB-C is about speed. USB cords (or universal serial buses, if you’re fancy) transfer digital data between devices. The original USB could do this at around 12 Megabits per second (Mbps), and later versions stepped that up to 480 Mbps. USB-C connections generally top out between 5 and 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps)—833.33 times faster than the original USB data transfer speeds. In fact, some configurations can theoretically transfer data up to a whopping 40 Gbps. At 10 Gbps, you can download a 4K movie in about 30 seconds. Look for adapters labeled USB 3.0 that indicate transfer speeds around 5 Gbps. The adapter will plug into your USB-C port on one end and your old school USB devices and accessories on the other.

This option is ideal for connecting devices and accessories to newer laptops by the manufacturer—but won’t work with tablets or other USB-C devices. Apple

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Those faster data-transfer speeds mean it’s simpler to download video (and other files) to your device. As a bonus, USB-C ports also deliver more power than traditional USB ports (up to 100 watts, compared to 2.5 watts, respectively), this newer tech enables your laptop to essentially power a projector, seamlessly sending your data out to a TV or other screen with one cord. Perhaps even more exciting, this means you can use your port to charge your phone.

This accessory has data transfer speeds of up to 480 Mbps and extends the life of older laptops by making them compatible with state of the art accessories. Basesailor

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The USB-C port is much smaller than older USB ports—clocking in at just 8.4 by 2.6 mm—and unlike a regular USB, tUSB-C is reversible, so it’s impossible to plug it in the wrong way. That’s pretty handy if you’re annoyed by having to check the orientation of a cable and port before connecting them. Some adapters function in the opposite direction, so users can plug the adapter into an older laptop’s standard USB port and then connect USB-C devices. This configuration doesn’t necessarily yield the higher transfer speeds, but does bring charging power and give users more flexibility when using older laptops without built-in USB-C ports.