USB-C is Intel’s new replacement for USB-A, which was the standard rectangular plug we have been using for about 20 years. In the late 90’s USB-A unified many ports (Parallel, Serial, PS/2, ADB), and USB-C takes it a step further to add support for video, power, and (soon) audio, as well as making the port small enough to work with mobile phones and tablets. They also took the opportunity to make the plug reversible, so you don’t have to worry about which way it plugs in anymore.
Last year some of the first USB-C computers started appearing on the market. The one that got the most attention was the MacBook Pro. Since then many products have come onto the market for people with these newer computers. Here are some of my favorites.
USB-C Thumb Drive
This thumb drive flips around to work with either the USB-A or USB-C ports, and the metallic body makes it ideal for a keychain. It’s available in multiple sizes up to 64 GB.
USB-A to USB-C adapter
These little adapters are cheap enough you can buy one for every USB device and leave it permanently attached. There are many similar ones out there but these are my favorite because they are slim enough that you can use them side-by-side on a MacBook Pro.
The USB adapters above are great because they are cheap and easy. But if you want a more elegant solution you may want to replace the cables on your devices completely. First, you’ll want to figure out which type of port your device has.
Anker makes an excellent 60-watt USB-C charger with four additional USB-A ports. Enough to charge my MacBook Pro, iPhone, Apple Watch, AirPods, and my battery pack simultaneously. Though the new 15″ MacBook Pro takes 87 watts, that’s only the maximum draw. If am just using my laptop for the simple stuff I do on the road such as email and the web and if I’m not using peripherals the 60-watt charger is powerful enough to keep my battery at 100%. If I load up a power-hungry app like Civilization VI my battery will drop down to around 80% after a couple of hours. Without a charger, my battery would have probably hit zero by then.
If you travel to Europe you can get a cheap cable for the charger because it accepts any standard voltage.
In my car, I’ve got this charger from Anker. It is similar in ability to the charger above. In addition to three USB-A sockets, it has one USB-C that supplies 54 watts of power, which is enough to keep my computer running just fine for basic use.
There are many options out there for different needs so you may want to search for the ports you want specifically. There are a lot of “dock” style adapters that include a video port, ethernet, SD card slot, USB-A ports, and many more in multiple configurations. but if you want one multi-purpose video adapter that can plug into just about any display or projector this one is a great option:
Disclaimer: Though I do earn revenue from purchases made through these links, I was not paid to choose these specific items and brands. They are simply the ones that I have used myself or recommended to clients.