Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 4th Dec 2013 23:40 UTC
In the News

USB cable developers have announced that a forthcoming version of the connector's plug is to be reversible.

It means users of the Universal Serial Bus cables will no longer have to worry which way round the part is facing when plugging it into a device.

The specification is due to be completed by mid-2014, and the first product on the market by 2016.

Spend only a few days using Apple's Lightning connector, and you'll realise how small things like it being reversible just makes life that tiny little bit less frustrating. About time USB did this.

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USB 3.1
by ozonehole on Thu 5th Dec 2013 00:22 UTC
ozonehole
Member since:
2006-01-07

Perhaps more significantly, along with the new type-c connector we get USB 3.1, which is said to be twice as fast as USB 3.0. All good news, except that it seems to take forever to get USB technology out on the shelves so we can buy it. USB 3.0 has been around since 2008, yet it's only recently become possible to find external hard drives and memory sticks supporting that standard. New computers are still being manufactured with USB 2.0 ports. If the past is anything to judge by, I don't expect that USB 3.1 will become common until 2018 at the earliest.

Reply Score: 6

RE: USB 3.1
by JAlexoid on Thu 5th Dec 2013 13:26 UTC in reply to "USB 3.1"
JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

USB is at least backwards compatible... now look at Thunderbolt. Where is my external GPU!?!?!

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: USB 3.1
by Anachronda on Thu 5th Dec 2013 19:58 UTC in reply to "RE: USB 3.1"
Anachronda Member since:
2007-04-18

More importantly, where's my Thunderbolt VMEbus cage?

It's possible to gum together bits and bobs to poke PCIexpress out a cable over to a VMEbus cage. You'd think the industrial folks would be all over Thunderbolt.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: USB 3.1
by smashIt on Thu 5th Dec 2013 23:21 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: USB 3.1"
smashIt Member since:
2005-07-06

You'd think the industrial folks would be all over Thunderbolt.


they already have expresscard for that
and my guess is that we will see a slew of them when sata express hits the market

Reply Score: 2

RE: USB 3.1
by bassbeast on Fri 6th Dec 2013 02:07 UTC in reply to "USB 3.1"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

Want to know why? As a retailer I can tell you and its the same reason why PC sales are down...what we have is "good enough" for the masses by a LONG shot.

Now if you'll think back USB 1 gave way to 1.1 and 2.0 VERY quickly and the reason for that is that Joe and Jane average were moving files that felt like they took forever on USB 1.0, on USB 2.0? Not so much.

Working with Joe and Jane every day I can tell you that 1.- They move on average less than 3GB at a time, 2.- This tends to be made up of smaller files, pics, docs, etc, and 3.- Their usage of USB drives is pretty much limited to the kinds of things we use the network for like moving files from a laptop to desktop for example.

So for the OEMs there really isn't a point in pushing USB 3 to the masses ATM as its more expensive and the majority not only doesn't ask for it they really see nothing wrong with USB 2.0 in its current form. Files move fast without moving TOO fast (a problem I have seen on some USB 3.0 drives is the "did it move?" question because the box closes too fast for the user to see if it transferred, which can lead to frustration) and its cheap and everywhere. Apple can talk lightning all they want but to Joe and Jane USB 2.0 is plenty fast and they're happy with it.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: USB 3.1
by Alfman on Fri 6th Dec 2013 05:57 UTC in reply to "RE: USB 3.1"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

bassbeast,

I would upvote you if I could.

"As a retailer I can tell you and its the same reason why PC sales are down...what we have is 'good enough' for the masses by a LONG shot."

I think this is very true. Most people don't need to buy a new computer any more because the previous ones are working just fine. Middle end computers are more than enough for typical usage these days. It's not like the old days where a new computer would be the difference between night and day.

The same should happen with tablets, and it won't be because they're no longer useful, it will be because after billions of sales, the market will naturally reach a saturation point. Still, manufacturers can make life difficult for consumers to extend the life of their old devices: non-replacable batteries, restricted bootloaders, introducing deliberate & artificial software incompatibilities, etc.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: USB 3.1
by bassbeast on Fri 6th Dec 2013 09:03 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: USB 3.1"
bassbeast Member since:
2007-11-11

As a retailer I saw this coming when the first Core Duos and Athlon X2s came out which is why I branched into HTPCs and phones and I can see the same thing happening to tablets VERY soon. I mean when you can get 7 inch quad core tablets for less than $140 USD?


Even the gamers like myself and my boys don't have to replace like we did. I went from a new system every other year and a major overhaul at the halfway mark to a PC that is going on 5 years but with a hexacore, 8Gb of RAM, and 3TB of HDD why should I replace? My youngest gifted me with an HD7750 to replace my aging HD4850 and that is all I needed, while he plays his shooters on an unlocked Phenom II X4 (formerly Athlon X3 450, I'm seeing over 70% unlocks on those BTW) and with his 7790 its all smooth as butter!

I give the tablets another 2 years,maybe a year and a half, then the sales will start dropping like a stone. I have a customer on a nearly 3 year old tablet and she already sees ZERO reason to replace as it does her social sites perfectly. the market will get to the point where you can get dual core tablets for $50 USD and once everyone who wants one has one the sales will drop, mark my words.

Reply Score: 3

Hell yes!!
by WorknMan on Thu 5th Dec 2013 00:23 UTC
WorknMan
Member since:
2005-11-13

I'm not a huge fan of iOS, but I LOOOOOVE the lightning connector. I don't care if these cables are $20 a piece - I'd gladly pay it just for the convenience of not having to try plugging everything in two or more times.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hell yes!!
by leos on Thu 5th Dec 2013 03:11 UTC in reply to "Hell yes!!"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I'm not a huge fan of iOS, but I LOOOOOVE the lightning connector. I don't care if these cables are $20 a piece - I'd gladly pay it just for the convenience of not having to try plugging everything in two or more times.


Same for the magsafe on the apple laptops. Absolutely love that feature. I'd pay an extra $50 just to get that connector over the standard barrel plug crap. It's the little things that make a tool like a computer or phone enjoyable to use.

Edited 2013-12-05 03:11 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE: Hell yes!!
by Carewolf on Thu 5th Dec 2013 11:55 UTC in reply to "Hell yes!!"
Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

Well it might work design wise, but it is kind of retarded software wise. A cable that needs processors to do anything and have firmware uploaded to it? No no no no.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Hell yes!!
by zima on Sun 8th Dec 2013 06:57 UTC in reply to "Hell yes!!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

the convenience of not having to try plugging everything in two or more times.

I virtually never have to do it more than once. Just remember that the embossed logo is "up".

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Hell yes!!
by phoenix on Mon 9th Dec 2013 19:45 UTC in reply to "RE: Hell yes!!"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Only if the USB port on the computer is aligned that way! Not every port on every computer is aligned "correctly".

I have a PC sitting on my desk right here where if you stand it on it's side (a supported config), then the USB ports are upside-down.

And, I have a tower at home where the USB ports are also upside-down.

Along with a handful of other towers where they are rightside-up.

IOW, "up" is dependent on the case manufacturer.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Hell yes!!
by zima on Tue 10th Dec 2013 00:22 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Hell yes!!"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Hm, I guess I have a luck of never encountering those... Or maybe misaligned USB ports aren't that common, and it is you who has a bad luck with them. ;)

Plus, most PCs sold are laptops, where "up" is easier to do right.

Reply Score: 2

Reversability at what cost?
by vnangia on Thu 5th Dec 2013 01:03 UTC
vnangia
Member since:
2011-08-08

I must disagree. The Lightning connector on my wife's new iPhone 5S (putting aside the licensing paranoia from Apple, which is a separate story in itself) very often refuses to engage correctly, meaning she wakes up to a dead phone. Sigh.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Reversability at what cost?
by leos on Thu 5th Dec 2013 03:06 UTC in reply to "Reversability at what cost?"
leos Member since:
2005-09-21

I must disagree. The Lightning connector on my wife's new iPhone 5S (putting aside the licensing paranoia from Apple, which is a separate story in itself) very often refuses to engage correctly, meaning she wakes up to a dead phone. Sigh.


So you have a defective product and you didn't think to return it?

Either that or there is dirt in there. Nothing about the lighting port itself would cause it not to engage.

Edited 2013-12-05 03:07 UTC

Reply Score: 3

vnangia Member since:
2011-08-08

What is defective exactly?

By which I mean, is it the iPhone 5S or the cable? Since the "Genius" people here don't believe there's a problem with their product, and yet we can replicated it fairly consistently, I'm curious what you believe is the fault so I can try using that explanation.

It is a brand new iPhone 5S. There is no dirt in the port.

Edited 2013-12-05 04:33 UTC

Reply Score: 5

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

There were quality issues with the Lightning cables. Many would send data but no longer power. I returned two... Simply by walking into an AppleStore with the cables alone and saying they didn't work. They swapped them without testing, without question -- they simply handed me new ones. The first two the problems appeared within the first two months; the replacements have been problem free for close to a year since.

Reply Score: 3

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

You're asking questions that you should know the answer to if you actually did what you say...

Why can't you tell if it's the cable or the phone? Simply plug a good cable in... Does the issue persist? No? It's the cable. Does the problem occur with any cable? Then it's the phone. As I said, The AppleStore likely wouldn't give you any fight at all if you could definitively isolate the problem to the cable, but if you couldn't, they certainly would have tried the basic test above. You say the results are consistent -- if they were consistent, they would be readily reproducible, readily diagnosable, and they'd fix it.

Reply Score: 3

leos Member since:
2005-09-21

What is defective exactly?


Why are you asking that question? Something about the cable or the phone is defective otherwise the internet would be awash with stories about this problem. Let me guess it would be called "cablegate!".

So apply standard debugging procedure. Replace the cable or get it replaced. If the problem is fixed then the issue was the cable. If the problem isn't fixed the issue is the phone.

Random failure to charge is not a feature or characteristic of the lighting cable, and much less of reversible cables in general. The only option is: defective phone or defective cable.

Edited 2013-12-06 01:02 UTC

Reply Score: 3

zima Member since:
2005-07-06

What is the "PEBKAC" equivalent for phones? PEBTAC, T for "touchscreen"?

Reply Score: 2

RE: Reversability at what cost?
by David on Thu 5th Dec 2013 04:19 UTC in reply to "Reversability at what cost?"
David Member since:
1997-10-01

The only problem I've had with lightning connectors are with the off-brand Chinese eBay cables I have tried, none of which work. With the Apple cables, I've had no problems.

Reply Score: 2

vnangia Member since:
2011-08-08

This is with the cable and charger that shipped in the box along with the phone, from a reputable dealer (directly from our carrier, T-Mobile USA). It is highly unlikely to be a fake.

Reply Score: 2

David Member since:
1997-10-01

I agree with the other respondent. It's probably a defective cable. Take it to Apple and they'll give you a new one. I don't think it's a widespread design issue. Just a bad cable.

Reply Score: 3

Round connectors
by timbit42 on Thu 5th Dec 2013 01:58 UTC
timbit42
Member since:
2013-03-22

All the best connectors are round: RCA and 1/4" and 1/8" headphones. If you need more conductors, make more concentric rings. Magsafe would be perfect if it were round.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Round connectors
by _txf_ on Thu 5th Dec 2013 17:34 UTC in reply to "Round connectors"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

All the best connectors are round: RCA and 1/4" and 1/8" headphones. If you need more conductors, make more concentric rings. Magsafe would be perfect if it were round.


They are also quite difficult to miniaturize and are somewhat space inefficient

Reply Score: 3

I give it a few days
by darknexus on Thu 5th Dec 2013 03:04 UTC
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

after the first product using this comes out before Apple goes patent-crazy.

Reply Score: 1

Or just keyed?
by emarkp on Thu 5th Dec 2013 06:36 UTC
emarkp
Member since:
2005-09-10

Like Firewire plugs, power outlets, RJ45, or practically every other non-circular plug? Ya know, so the orientation is obvious?

Reply Score: 4

RE: Or just keyed?
by Luke McCarthy on Thu 5th Dec 2013 10:22 UTC in reply to "Or just keyed?"
Luke McCarthy Member since:
2005-07-06

It would be a simpler and cheaper solution. Just put a notch in the middle on one side or something like that.

Reply Score: 4

Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

Is this just a case of physical symmetry but remaining logically asymmetric? Is it defined what happens when the cable is plugged into two computers?

RS485 had many advantages over USB in this regard since devices could be connected as true peers rather than HOST/DEVICE profiles.

I wonder, if more consumer computers had had RS485 hardware ports instead of RS232 serial ports, we may have developed PNP protocols for 485 networks and there might never have been a need for USB to begin with. It would be very interesting to think about how 485 might have evolved in place of usb. Printers/scanners/cameras would be inherently sharable between computers on the same bus. In terms of distance, 485 really puts USB to shame and makes it suitable for home automation. For example computers might control a house's HVAC functions out of the box.

http://www.maximintegrated.com/app-notes/index.mvp/id/3884
"The data rates obtained for cable lengths from 300feet to 900feet range from 1Mbps to 35Mbps."

Typical speeds are much slower, but that's likely because most 485 networks are often connected using screw terminals with unshielded wires in between, which has always been plenty good enough for the HVAC applications it's typically used for. Ideally a consumer friendly high speed connector would have been designed.


Most of the negatives of RS485 have to do with lack of standardization. The logical layer is left completely unspecified: message framing/device addressing/error correction. Therefor each protocols needs a different physical bus (bacnet/pup/sdp/etc), which is acceptable for certain scenarios, but not for connecting misc peripherals.

Mind you all, I know there's nothing to debate here since USB has obviously won. Still, I've always felt that USB was over-engineered and high overhead. It's asymmetry is an impediment to some pretty basic things that 485 was capable of without adding even more intermediary gook.

Edited 2013-12-05 07:33 UTC

Reply Score: 6

Pfff
by twitterfire on Thu 5th Dec 2013 08:01 UTC
twitterfire
Member since:
2008-09-11

If somebody asked me 10 years ago I could swear that in 10 years we will have only one standard for data transmission and only one kind of cable/plug.

Using same kind of cable/plug for hard drives, PC periferals, speakers, network seems to be as far as a target today as it was 10 years ago.

But then there are different standards in use even for light bulbs and electrical sockets ...

Reply Score: 4

RE: Pfff
by helf on Thu 5th Dec 2013 09:15 UTC in reply to "Pfff"
helf Member since:
2005-07-06

That's because it is very difficult to design a one-size-fits-all. You end up with something that doesn't do anything else, usually.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Pfff
by Wootery on Mon 9th Dec 2013 18:17 UTC in reply to "Pfff"
Wootery Member since:
2013-11-22

Using same kind of cable/plug for hard drives, PC periferals, speakers, network seems to be as far as a target today as it was 10 years ago.


It will never happen - it's the way it is for good technical reasons. Let's look at audio: USB speakers means moving the task of digital-to-analog conversion into the speakers, driving up their price. Not to mention that the headphone plug standard is used by more than just computers.

USB speakers are out there if you want them though, of course.

As for USB vs SATA vs HDMI/DVI/DisplayPort vs Ethernet-over-copper, I doubt we're going to see them converge either, as SATA, HDMI (etc) and Ethernet benefit from being specialised for their purpose. You pay a high price for one-size-fits-all technologies like USB, in that you can't have task-specific innovation.

There's also backward-compatibility, which is a huge concern for real-world products.

USB has successfully taken the place of all three of PS/2, serial, and parallel, so there's been some unification... just not recently. (I'm ignoring Firewire, but personally I've never seen it used, ever.)

Personally I'm not too bothered by this. It's a little inconvenient, but that's all. (Maybe I'd think differently if I were a sysadmin, though.)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Pfff
by phoenix on Mon 9th Dec 2013 19:50 UTC in reply to "RE: Pfff"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Except that there's an official ATA-over-Ethernet (AoE) spec that sends standard SATA commands through Ethernet frames. There's also an official SCSI-over-IP (iSCSI) spec that sends standard SCSI commands through TCP/IP packets. As well as a FibreChannel-over-Ethernet (FCoE) spec for sending standard FC commands over Ethernet frames.

IOW, storage and networking are converging. At least in the data centre.

I don't know about video over Ethernet, but (at work) we do use standard CAT6 cables to send HDMI/VGA signals over long distance to connect roof-mounted projectors, wall-mounted smartboards, and classroom laptops.

I think we also do the same for USB, but don't quote me on that.

IOW, Ethernet cabling can already be used to carry all kinds of protocols.

Reply Score: 2

reversible usb is already here
by demosthenese on Thu 5th Dec 2013 17:59 UTC
demosthenese
Member since:
2011-02-01

See http://reversibleusb.com/

Never used it ... the two sides of a regular usb plug look different ...

Reply Score: 3

And more!
by peejay on Thu 5th Dec 2013 18:38 UTC
peejay
Member since:
2005-06-29

Maybe USB Type-D will give us the same connector on both ends of the cable as well. ;)

I'd like reversibility for HDMI...nothing like trying to plug an HDMI cable into a downward facing port on the back of a TV.

We need to stop discriminating based on orientation!

Reply Score: 4

Hopefully
by deathshadow on Sun 8th Dec 2013 06:12 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

They won't be flimsy little plastic crap like SATA... USB, SATA, eSATA, HDMI, mini HDMI -- flimsy crap all of them that I've broken more of the past five years than I have any other type of connector the past 35 years.

Makes me long for the days of DIN, D-SUB, Micro-Ribbon, or even IDC. At least those had some 'meat' to them. Hell, it's bad when these modern rinky little steaming piles of manure make RJ connectors look high-end and durable!

Hell, couldn't they just use a DB-9?!?

Edited 2013-12-08 06:13 UTC

Reply Score: 2

RE: Hopefully
by phoenix on Mon 9th Dec 2013 19:56 UTC in reply to "Hopefully"
phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

I'm hoping they get rid of the whole "pin" and "slot" configuration. The little "pin" in the middle of the slot (especially for micro-USB) is the weakest part of the connector ... and the most important! And even the full-sized USB connector isn't much better.

Instead, they need to make the outside of the male-end of the plug the "pin". Blame Apple for making yet-another proprietary plug, they at least did that part right.

Take a design cue from "barrel plugs" and headphone jacks. Make the plug itself the pins. And add a locking notch of some kind to the (non-conducting) edges.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Hopefully
by zima on Tue 10th Dec 2013 00:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Hopefully"
zima Member since:
2005-07-06

Micro-USB actually (supposedly) moved some wear-susceptible parts to the plug ...easier to replace a cable than the slot.

Reply Score: 2