Well, it may be time to re-think those Thunderbolt ports after all. The new USB standard has just been finalized and it looks like a revolution more than a simple evolution of USB as we know it.
As I type this on my iMac that still smells of showroom wrapping, I can tell you I long welcomed the Thunderbolt. It was developed by Intel in conjunction with Apple and joins together audio, video, data, and power in one extremely fast connection. How fast? 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps). It’s also bi-directional, so it can send and receive data at the same time. What I was most interested in as a photographer, was this speed. It would allow for an incredibly fast workflow and connection to all manners of peripherals, including hard drives and RAID solutions. The catch, is that all those devices are significantly more expensive than their USB counterparts. For many, it’s been prohibitively so. Enter USB Type C.
The new breed of USB is very similar in size to what we are used to with micro-USB, but the size is no indication of capability. It’s an adaptation essentially of the USB 3.1 standard, which is actually double the speed of USB 3, but the size suggests that it wants to be able to be incorporated into more devices, and smaller devices. It will also do 10Gbps, and can carry up to 100 watts of power which means it could act as a power cable and data transfer solution in one, and it’s reversible. No more trying 5 times to find the right way to plug in something that should take no more than 2 tries max. The only conceivable downside is that it’s small. It is made in a new form factor that will not work with your current units.
At this point you may be thinking that there may be little point in switching to it if it’s possibly not going to be widespread in implementation. We know all too well from our industry that technological superiority is no guarantee of commercial success and wide adoption. The masses tend to dictate where the device’s future lays, and the masses tend to be swayed by easily digestible numbers, and….price; the cheaper one tends to win out. However, given that it’s USB, and that it’s smaller, means there are likely a wider range of devices this could be used for, from laptops, phones, tablets etcetera, and likely less expensive, so it would seem that this has a better chance of taking hold than Thunderbolt, and fare better than Firewire.
What do you think?