What Are USB Cables, And What Are They Used For?

Most people know what a USB cable is and has used one at least once in their lifetime. For many of us, USB cables are so commonplace that we use them every single day. But do you know what they actually are? For example, do you know what USB stands for? And do you know how they work? Read on to find out more about these fascinating cables, including what you can do with them.

What is a USB Cable?

USB stands for universal serial bus. It is a connection between a host of devices, typically peripheral devices that connect to another device or electrical socket. USB cables are most often found on devices that connect to computers such as scanners, printers, external hard drives, etc. Although other peripheral devices such as mice and keyboards are commonly wireless these days, they used to also connect to the main computer tower via a USB cable.

USB cables are used for more than just computer peripherals, though. You might already be using one to charge a cell phone or portable speaker. They can even be used these days to charge USB C rechargeable AAA batteries for use in a variety of devices in the home such as TV remotes or clocks. The experts at Pale Blue Earth, makers of USB rechargeable smart batteries, are using USB cables to power high performance products that will help to reduce the dependence on single-use batteries.

What are the Benefits of USB Cables?

USB cables are capable of carrying both signals and power. They can transfer data from one device to another at rates of up to 480 Mbps, but they are also capable of charging external devices such as the rechargeable batteries mentioned above, or an e-book reader.

One of the great things about USB cables is that they can be removed from a computer or device without the power having to be switched off first. This is known as ‘hot pluggable’ and means that the device will not freeze if the cable is removed.

USB hubs are devices that connect to a computer, and which have a number of USB ports, making it possible to connect more than one peripheral device to the same USB port on the computer.

Different Types of USB Connectors

USB cables come with different connectors at the end of the cable, depending on what they are to be used for. USB-A connectors are the ones that most people are familiar with. It is a flat rectangular connector that is capable of both data transfer and charging. A USB cable with an A connector will typically have a different type of connector on the other end and is commonly used to connect external devices to TV’s, computers, and games consoles.

A USB-B connector is a square connector that might be found on a printer or scanner. This cable will usually have a USB-A connector on the other end, but some cables might have USB-B to a micro or mini USB connector.

Micro and mini USB connectors are smaller than USB-A and USB-B connectors and are often found on the end of cables used to connect gadgets such as games controllers and cell phones or tablets.

USB-C is the newest type of connector and has become the current standard, as it not only carries both power and data, but it also provides display connectivity. Indeed, it is capable of delivering 4K video to an external monitor. USB-C is the most powerful cable, and has the ability to transfer up to 40 Gbps.

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