Apple’s new MacBook is one of the first laptops to support the new USB Type-C standard, a small, reversible connector that will probably replace all the existing USB connectors out there over the next two years.
This is an industry-wide standard adopted by all the major PC and mobile manufacturers (for more, check out PCMag’s explainer). Apple was first out of the gate, but Google this week also revealed a new Chromebook Pixel with two USB-C ports.
Apple is seeding the market with the first affordable USB-C accessories. But the flood is coming this summer. Belkin and SanDisk have already announced their first USB-C gadgets, and eventually cut-rate retailers like Monoprice.com will enter the fray with generic Chinese cables. Since this is an industry standard, Apple can’t require the use of Apple cables with its MacBook.
With only one port on the MacBook, docks and hubs will probably become important. We haven’t seen any of those docking stations yet, but they’re likely coming soon. The connector will also work with standard USB hubs, as long as you go through an adapter first.
Here are some of the best USB-C cables and devices we’ve seen that are hitting the market soon.
Apple USB-C to USB Adapter
This adapter has a male USB-C and a female USB-A, allowing you to plug any standard USB cable into it. Note that since the USB-A end is female, you still need another USB cable. It’s a little kludgey. Belkin has a similar adapter coming, but it’ll cost $10 more.
Apple USB-C Charge Cable
This cable handles data and charging your MacBook. Presumably, your MacBook already comes with one of these, so this is a replacement cable. Yes, $29 is a lot to pay for a USB cable, but it’ll probably be about six months before that price comes down. Belkin also has a $29 cable coming.
Apple USB-C Power Adapter
This 29-watt power adapter can power a new MacBook, but probably also an iPad or iPhone, with the right cables. It can’t power older or larger Mac laptops.
Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter
Now we’re talking. This dongle splits the MacBook’s USB-C port into a USB-C passthrough for power, as well as an HDMI video out and a USB-A 3.1 data transfer cable.
Apple USB-C VGA Multiport Adapter
If you have an older monitor, you’ll want this adapter, which splits the MacBook’s USB-C port into a USB-C passthrough for power, a VGA video-out, and a USB-A 3.1 data transfer cable. Most people should get the HDMI cable, though—it’s more flexible.
Belkin USB-A to USB-C Cable
$19.99 – $29.99
Belkin has a slew of USB cables coming this summer. This one is male on both ends and will connect USB-A devices to USB-C devices. It transfers 15 watts of power, which isn’t enough to charge the new MacBook. There are two varieties of this: a faster USB 3.1 cable for $29.99, and a slower USB 2.0 model for
Belkin USB-B to USB-C Cable
You will need this to connect your MacBook to your printer, because printers still insist on using the weird, squarish USB-B port.
Popular USB Type models
|Top speed||Max power output||Power direction||Cable configuration||Availability|
|USB 1.1||12Mbps||2.5V, 500mA||Host to peripheral||Type-A to Type-B||1998|
|USB 2.0||480Mbps||2.5V, 1.8A||Host to peripheral||Type-A to Type-B||2000|
|USB 3.0||5Gbps||5V, 1.8A||Host to peripheral||Type-A to Type-B||2008|
|USB 3.1||10Gbps||20V, 5A||Bi-directional||Type-C both ends, reversible plug orientation|