July 14, 2010

There is a new kind of USB connector that people have been talking about and that you will begin to see soon. Called USB 3.0, the new technology promises much faster transfer speeds. 

USB 3.0 will allow transfers 10 times faster than 2.0 USB connections. This means you can download music and data files — and charge your devices — much faster.

The Dallas Morning News reported that USB 3.0 is expected to become the standard on new PCs over the next few months, which is especially good news for photographers who need to download large photo or video files.

The Morning News reported:

“Pros: USB 3.0 connections are substantially faster than any previous USB standard but are also compatible with older USB 1 and 2 devices.

“Cons: Devices such as laptops and cameras with built-in USB 2.0 ports are basically impossible to upgrade, and USB 3.0 only provides a speed boost if devices are 3.0-capable.

“Bottom line: It will take years for consumers to phase out all their older USB gear, but the speed improvements with 3.0 are undeniable.”

The connection to your computer will look the same as the USB 2.0 connection. But the other end that connects to your devices will be different, meaning you can’t fit a USB 3.0 cable into a USB 2.0 device.

ComputerWorld explained:

“You won’t be able to fit a USB 3.0 cable into a USB 2.0 device. However, you will be able to plug USB 3.0 devices — and cables — into your current computer; you just won’t get the speed advantage. (Note: To get the most out of USB 3.0, the cable needs to be less than about 9 feet long, down from the USB 2.0 16-foot limit.)”

“The reason for the new connector is that the USB 3.0 cable contains nine wires (four more than a USB 2.0 cable); eight carry data and one is used as a ground. Despite the increase in wires, however, the cables should be no thicker than those used by USB 2.0. There will be a big difference in performance, however. USB 2.0 is like a single-lane country road that needs to handle the morning-commute traffic in and out of L.A. There are jams and slowdowns when too much data is going back and forth. With nine wires available, USB 3.0 has an additional two lanes of traffic in each direction to smooth the flow between the computer and the device.”

Watch this video to see the difference in USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 speed.

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Al Tompkins is one of America's most requested broadcast journalism and multimedia teachers and coaches. After nearly 30 years working as a reporter, photojournalist, producer,…
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