Thanks to its compatibility with a range of devices, USB-C is the prime candidate for a common charger that could help alleviate the build-up of electronic waste. So, news of a major power upgrade bundled into its new standard will only boost its case. As CNET reports, the version 2.1 update to the USB-C specification could deliver up to 240W of power, more than double its current 100W capacity. The change would allow you to juice up beefier electronics like gaming laptops and larger monitors.
The industry group that develops the technology, known as the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), calls the 240W option “Extended Power Range,” or EPR. This is effectively a change to the “USB-PD” spec that you may have seen on fast chargers and battery packs. While the amperage of the system remains “configurable up to 5A,” the voltage, which presently maxes out at 20V, will be configurable up to 48V under the new specification. As such, cables that support the additional power capacity will have additional requirements and carry specific icons so that people can easily identify them. The new cables will also need to support up to 5A and 50V to be compliant.
There’s already a myriad reasons why USB-C is favored by electronics manufacturers. The connector is versatile: It works with a host of devices, from smartphones to laptops to external hard drives (and even the Nintendo Switch). It’s also easy to use: You don’t have to worry about which end is up when plugging it in, unlike a regular USB or micro-USB. The only caveat is that the number scheme for the cables, which points to the speed at which they transfer data, can be confusing for the lay user.
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