What Is A USB Cable


Many computers and electronic devices use some form of USB connection, and many of these devices also come packaged with a USB cable. You must be wondering that what are all these different cables for and does it matter which one will be suitable for your use?

Well, the answer is big YES. it does matter. May be it will change in the near future.

USB or Universal Serial Bus is an industry standard that was developed back in mid-1990s to standardize the computer peripherals connection to computers. It replaced many of earlier interfaces and now it is the most popular connector type for electronic devices.

Before we move ahead, let’s take a look at the definition:

What Is A USB Cable?

A USB cable is basically used to connect a device with a host. Common hosts are video game consoles and computers. There are numerous standards; cables that are fully compliant with 1.1 specifications can also work with 2.0 technology and vice versa. Cables can be identified by the USB trident available on top of the plug.

A cable can have different types of plug ends, the style of which is known as a connector.  There are different types of connectors like Standard A and B, Mini-B, Micro-A and B, and Micro-AB. These plugs go into the matching receptacles built into the devices and hosts. Standard-A receptacles are the type that is commonly referred to USB ports available on the computers. Standard-B receptacles are usually available on the large peripheral devices like scanners and printers.

A standard cable can connect a device to a Windows PC or a Macintosh. You can connect your smart phone to a PC for data sharing or charging. There are some companies that appear similar to USB cables but they are not built according to the standards. In order to distinguish such connectors, you can check the trident logo on them.

Length Of A Cable:

A standard cable holds multiple wires. One wire holds a path for a five volt power supply or current. A cable under 2.0 specs can only be five meters in length. This limit was set due to a cable delay spec of 26 nanoseconds, which permits reflections to stay at the transmitter before the next bit is sent. Hosts must have their commands answered within an allowed time period or they will consider the commands lost. Cables that are significantly longer than five meters length would result in too much of a delay.

There are many different solutions for connecting devices beyond the cable limit. These solutions involve using extender cables, which are self-powered hubs having a fixed 10 meter cable and a one-port bus powered hub available in the middle. You can use up to five hubs in a chain. It can build a bridge that acts as a device on one side and has a host controller at the other end. If this method is used, it is ideal to use a long-haul signaling protocol like RS-485 or Ethernet in the middle.

What About USB 3?

It is the latest standard that offers faster transfer rates and is also compatible with earlier versions. Standard-A connectors are matching with the Type-A connectors of earlier versions, but they are usually blue in color to distinguish them.

They are fully compatible with earlier versions but the increased speeds are only available when all the components are compatible with USB 3.

Standard-B and micro versions have extra pins in them to allow the increased transfer rate and are, therefore, not compatible with earlier versions. Earlier Type-B and micro-B cables can also be used in the ports but they will not get the increased speed.

The Shades Of Micro-USB:

If you are using an Android phone or tablet, you definitely have a micro-USB cable. Even the most die hard fans of Apple can’t avoid them as it is the most common connector type for things like external speakers and external power banks, etc.

If you buy many gadgets, you may find that you have collected a bunch of these with time. Since they are usually inter-changeable, you may never have to buy one separately, unless you keep losing or breaking them.

While buying a cable, it may seem ideal to just pick the cheapest option, but, as is often the case, this is really a bad idea. Cables that are made with poor quality control can break easily, and a slightly broken cable is quite useless as far as device charging goes.


Save yourself from the headache and go for a quality product from a known manufacturer. The small difference in price can be helpful for you in the long run. Once you know the standards and working of cables, you will be able to know the difference between quality and cheap products. After reading this article, you will be able to find a cable that will be perfect for your needs.

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