Introducing the Next-Gen of USB Power Cords
Let’s face it, we can’t go more than a few minutes without picking up our phones, iPads, and laptops. We’re fully immersed in a digital tech era and this means we need to have power on-demand, and lots of it.
USB-C 2.0 is becoming the standard for charging our devices, with most Android models supporting it and even some iPads and MacBooks. Now, we’re one step closer to having one cable to fulfill all our charging needs.
A New Standard for Charging
If you’re anything like us, you have so many charging cables it hurts. One for your cellphone, one for the laptop, another for your smartwatch, and another bunch of cables tangled up in your desk drawers.
But what if we could charge everything with just one cable? This is now a possibility thanks to a new USB-C 2.1 cable announced by USB-IF which is capable of increasing charging capacity from 100 watts to 240 watts.
This increase in energy transfer has been dubbed Extended Power Range (EPR) and should give you enough juice to charge pretty much any of your devices; though beefier laptops might still struggle. I’m talking about those that tend to come with 330W+ standard cables like high-end gaming laptops.
A Dell XPS for example will work just fine with the new spec as will any other small and portable laptop. It’s still a huge breakthrough for consumer tech and makes charging a whole lot more convenient – especially if you tend to travel a lot and hate carrying a bunch of cables around.
The other specifications look pretty much the same as the standard USB-C 2.0 cables we currently use. The port is exactly the same size and new wires can be used with the old ports and vice versa when eventually new ports are installed on devices. One thing the developers have been working on though is mitigation of arcing damage as much as possible (more on that later).
All the newer 2.1 cables will be made easily identifiable so you’re not caught off guard, with USB-IF stating that “All EPR cables shall be visibly identified with EPR cable identification items,” on their press release.
Of course, If you want to take advantage of these new capabilities, you need to buy (yet another) cable, though if you’re patient and are buying a new laptop fairly soon, you could wait until then so you’re not having to pay extra. For many people, it’ll be worth the investment, especially when having one more wire in the arsenal never hurts.
Impact of Higher Voltage on Hardware
USB-IF did acknowledge that there may still be some work to be done to ensure that the new cables are durable. They conducted testing on the new charging cables when they were disconnected from the device but still plugged in and there were a couple of issues.
Firstly they noted that there is potential for increased arcing damage due to increased wattage. Arcing isn’t something new and is often at the forefront of consideration when designing electrical items. They have spent a lot of time doing calculations to mitigate this as much as possible. Nevertheless, the extra power presents new challenges.
Final Thoughts on USB-PD 2.1
Although there are some limitations for huge devices that guzzle the power, we’ve still made an important step towards having one cable for all our charging needs. And frankly, my desk draw will be better off after I get one.