Apple Inc. cut the fat with its new 12-inch MacBook, which weighs 2 pounds and is 24 percent thinner than its current MacBook Air models. It had some help with a new connector called USB Type-C, a smaller, reversible version of the popular plug that means at least one thing for most consumers: new adapters to buy.
More than 4 billion devices featuring the older USB standard (Type A) are sold every year, but many are frustrated by their clunkiness -- many joke that while a USB has only two sides, it always takes at least three tries to plug it in. Apple apparently agrees, as the new USB Type-C plug on its recently unveiled MacBook replaces standard USB as well as DisplayPort, HDMI and VGA inputs on the new 12-inch MacBook.
That means you'll have to shell out if you want to plug it into your TV or external monitor. Here are five other things you need to know about USB Type-C:
1. It runs on the USB 3.1 standard, which sends data at speeds of up to 10Gbps, or half of Apple’s proprietary Thunderbolt 2 connector. However, the USB standard will inevitably be adopted by many more device manufacturers who hope to appeal to both the Mac and PC crowds.
2. USB Type-C can send 100 watts of power both ways. This means that a tablet can charge a smartphone, or a charged-up smartphone could power a dying laptop in a pinch.
3. The USB Implementers Forum claims that USB 3.1 Type-C devices are better shielded against radio-frequency and electromagnetic interference. This means slightly increased speeds as well as fewer, if any, occasions where data is lost in the transfer.
4. If you want to charge your new MacBook, connect to an external monitor and use a USB accessory at the same time, you’ll have to buy a new accessory from Apple. It costs $79, and offers either HDMI or VGA connections.
5. Apple also will sell a $19 adapter that allows customers to connect its new 12-inch MacBook to standard USB plugs. The USB adapter, like the $79 one, is sold separately from the new laptop, which starts at $1,299.
Apple is the first major manufacturer to include USB Type-C in a device, while the reversible new connector also is expected to appear on a slew of new laptops and smartphones from various manufacturers. The Cupertino, California-based company is not selling an adapter for users of the 12-inch MacBook to connect to ethernet or SD cards, so users interested in downloading images from their camera or avoiding Wi-Fi connections will have to use adapters that connect to the older USB standard.