The USB is probably the most ubiquitous connection seen on devices and cables alike. While most people will recognize the port or cable when they see it, there’s still a bit of confusion concerning capabilities and compatibility. So, what the heck is the difference between Type-A and Type-C? And are USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 compatible? Allow us to provide some clarity and make you a USB-Pro.

First, a brief history

Invented in 1994, the Universal Serial Bus was designed to communicate with and be compatible with many different computers. Before the USB, there wasn’t a standardized system in place to connect peripherals to a computer. USB 1.0 Data transfer plodded along at 12 megabits per second. By contrast, when the USB 2.0 came along in 2000 it could transfer data at 480 megabits per second. Fast forward to today and the USB 3.0 and 3.1 can transfer data at a hair-raising speed of 4.8 and 10 gigabits per second, respectively.

1.0, 2.0, or 3.0?

The numbers that follow USB such as 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 refer to iterative updates to design and increases in data transfer speeds. For each update to the USB, more connective pins were strategically added to the male end to allow for quicker data transfer. This also means that USBs are backwards compatible; meaning you can plug a USB 3.0 into a USB 2.0 port, and a 2.0 into a 1.0. However, a 3.0 is not compatible with a 1.0 port, and the super speed rate found in the USB 3.0 will only work when using USB 3.0 ports and cables. Most 3.0 ports and connectors are identified by a blue color.

Is ABC really as easy as 123?

Type-A, B, and C refer to the connectors themselves. Type-A connectors are rectangular and are easily the most recognizable. Type-B connectors are associated with peripheral devices such as a camera or a printer. There are also micro and mini USB Type-B connectors and ports. Type-C connectors are much smaller and have been widely adapted. You can find them on laptops, like your AVITA Liber and Clarus, and on your smartphone. Many cables offer a Type-A to Type-C connection.

So what can a USB-C do?

Other than data transfer, USB-C can charge your device, and transmit audio and video. Hence why you see many smartphone devices getting rid of the 3.5mm jack used for headphones in place of a USB-C port. In keeping up with the latest technology, both AVITA Clarus and Liber come equipped with a USB-C port.