What do you Need to Know about USB?

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Ponzi called me while shopping with some questions about USB Hubs. I realized that many people may have the same questions, so I decided to try and answer some of those for you in this video. Her first question was “What is actually the difference between 1.0 and 2.0?” and the other one was “the price difference between 4 slots and 7 slots is only $10… so which one should I get?”

Basically, you don’t have to go with 2.0. However, if you’re going to want to plug high-speed devices into the hub, you will want to go with 2.0. What’s the difference? Speed. That’s pretty much it. USB 2.0 averages data rate of 480 Mbps, while 1.1 only gets 12Mbps. That’s approximately a difference of 40 times faster. You can’t argue with numbers like that. USB 2.0 is considered Hi-speed mode while 1.0 and 1.1 are known as full- speed USB modes.

You should also keep in mind that sometime in the near future, 2.0 will be old, and USB 3.0 will be upon us. It was gone over with a fine-toothed comb at CES 2008. USB 3.0 is rumored to have speeds of 4.8Gbits, if you can even imagine that! It also is purported to have a power system that will cut the juice when a device isn’t being used.

The 4-port USB hub may be $10.00 cheaper, but I would spend the extra money to buy the 7 port. You never hear someone saying that they have too many USB ports, do you? You’re always going to have devices that you need to connect. It’s better to have empty/open ports, than to have a need to connect something… only to find all your ports are full.

“Purple Owl” reminded me that looking for a powered USB hub is also important, to make sure you can support all USB devices (not just those that have their own power supply):

So often I have tried to use a USB hub, and found that it did not work because the hub was not powered. Why is it that almost nobody mentions that it’s SO important to have a powered USB hub? When buying my current hub online, I trudged through pages of specs, and found I simply couldn’t tell whether a hub I was interested in was powered or not.

True! Ponzi also asked me if USB will always work on both PCs and Macs. I assured her that yes, USB devices should always work on either system. The drivers may not always be the same. I’ve had an easier time getting OS X to recognize USB devices, than I ever did on a Windows platform. They usually work easier right out of the box with OS X.

Let’s also not forget that the future of USB lies in wireless. If you wander over to have a read at the USB ‘headquarters’ website, you’ll get the following description:

With more than 2 billion legacy wired USB connections in the world today, USB is the de facto standard in the personal computing industry. Soon, these same, fast, interoperable connections will become available in the wireless world, with the introduction of Wireless USB from the USB-IF. Wireless USB is the new wireless extension to USB that combines the speed and security of wired technology with the ease-of-use of wireless technology.

All in all, USB devices and gadgets are a part of every Geek’s life.

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43 thoughts on “What do you Need to Know about USB?”

  1. Pingback: Useful Habits
  2. haha ice cream for dinner. i like how something so simple insinuates so much. ps. i think one of the reasons why usb is more popular than firewire because it feels more solid and nicer to plug in.

  3. USB 1.0 = mouse/keyboard/printer/toys/everything

    USB 2.0 = external drives/cameras/camcorders (2.0 works on 1.0 but slower yet tolerable and I don’t mind, but prefer the fastest.

    I would rather have a 30 port USB hub of 1.0, than to have a 4 port hub of USB 2.0. However, it is best to have at least 2 USB 2.0 connections, for an external drive(s) and/or external DVD burner(s).

    Why USB? because USB extensions are cheap online and at dollar stores (6 foot usb 1.0 for $1 locally).

  4. USB Missile launcher. Uses the web cam to recognize any “Intruders” via isight! its cool

    And USB 3.0. Rumors. It will be 2x faster than firewire 800. Firewire 800 is 2x faster than USB 2.0.

  5. USB (universal serial bus) is a shared bus on the motherboard from the southbridge chipset for external devices. USB is self-powered and uses only 5 volts. USB 1.1 = 5Mbit/s, USB 2.0 full-speed = 12Mbit/s, USB 2.0 HiSpeed = 480Mbit/s, USB 3.0 = 4.6Gbit/s. The USB 3.0 specification is planned to be released in the first half of 2008, commercial products are expected to arrive in 2009 or 2010.

  6. dont forget the successor to FW800 will be around by 09 so its not like firewire will be sitting on its loins not getting faster

  7. you want more 1.0 over 2.0? This sounds totally crazy. Why? they are the same just about but 1.0 is so slow mud runs faster in teh winter time.

  8. Firewire 800 is way more than 2 times faster than USB. Just because USB runs at 480mb that is theoretical. It never reaches the maximum because it ponces off the system whereas FW has a dedicated controller. Firewire 400 is way faster than USB 2 even though USB 2 can theoretically reach 480mb. Firewire3200 (the next version) runs at 3200mb, whereas USB 3 runs at 4800, however I bet you whatever you like Firewire 3200 will totally smoke it. In fact I cant see USB 3 being faster than FW800 tbh.

  9. Wow. So long as the Motherboards have the ability to keep up with USB 3.0, I would be damn tempted to get a 3.0 external HDD and use that instead of the internal one.

  10. I just wish some of the USB wireless adapters, USB wireless mouse dongles, and other USB devices were designed a little less “high profile” i.e. didn’t stick out so far.

    Like for laptops – you have this nice portable computer, slim and sleek, not tethered to anything via any cords.

    You plug a USB dongle into it and now you have an awkward piece of electronics sticking out the side or back, ready to catch on something and break.

  11. USB 2.0 is backward compatable with USB 1.1 which means that a USB 1.1 device will work on a USB 2.0 hub.

    An additional consideration when attaching a USB device to a hub is the amount of power that the device requires. A hub that does not have it’s own power supply may not have enough power to run the device.

  12. Still covering the basics, please correct me in anything that I’m wrong, cause I’m in no way an expert:

    – The plugs (interface, for geeks) are the same in any version of USB so far. The differences lie in the motherboard and in the software (drivers).

    – There are slightly different USB cables that, for what I know, borrow their name from the odd end. That’s because one end is always USB as usual, and the other can be another USB plug, a mini-USB plug (I usually see them in phones and cameras) and something I call micro-USB (because I don’t know the name), which I’ve seen in memory card readers.

    – I’ve seen systems in which the USB drivers can be upgraded. I’m not sure what the requisites are, but the PC came with USB 1.1 drivers installed and we could upgrade them to 2.0 without opening the box. It was mostly a matter of uninstalling the 1.1, checking something at the BIOS and then installing the 2.0 — much faster — drivers. I’m not saying this is applicable for anyone. It might just be applicable to a particular user that wants it upgraded.

  13. My computer has 1.0 usb, I don’t bother changing it cause I know sometime later I’ll get my hands on my own macbook :D…hope so, I’m still saving up for my car, so…you know

  14. Thanks for the great videos Chris (like always) I found this information very helpful on some problems I have seen having with my Belkin USB Hub. It turns out that the hub not my computer was causing thre conflict between iTunes and my iPhone. I guess my hub is not USB 2.0 ๐Ÿ™

  15. USB is cool.Its faster than firewire I beleave.That,and its not as nearly as expensive as firewire.Unfourtuntlly,I only have like 3 usb ports ๐Ÿ™

  16. I am happy with my hub. I use a IOGEAR 2.0 usb and card reader hub. Works really well, It looks nice, has 6 usb ports with it and 4 different types of card readers.

    My father had usb ports on his keyboard, which when ever used, kept saying it did not have enough power. So I will be planning on getting him a usb hub sometime in the future.

  17. hi, i have a problm in usb………having a virus in it.
    now its not working is there any software or anti virus….
    to make it workng again lik b4

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