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USB Type C & Thunderbolt 3: Are we there yet?

USB-C & Thunderbolt 3: ‘We advise you to be very careful and test all features you are after or delay purchases until early 2017 when you have a better chance of a solution that delivers on the promise of USB Type C.’ - Andrew George, QCC Sales & Marketing Manager

ill are we there yet

Remember being a kid sitting in the back of the car going on holiday? You are all excited, thinking of fun stuff you will be able to do when you get there and knowing it will be a great experience, just like your parents promised you. An hour into the drive, you pipe ‘are we there yet’? Three hours into the drive, you’re fed up with keeping yourself busy and still you’re ‘not there yet’. The excitement wears off and you start to wonder if the promises were not just a big trick to get you into the car? You become increasingly disappointed as you travel on. 

USB Type C & Thunderbolt 3: the perfect match in 2014

The story of USB Type C & Thunderbolt 3 is like the childhood road trip. Two years ago there was lots of fanfare and promises from vendors (parents) of a bright future where data, video and power all live together harmoniously between different devices.

Is the USB Type C & Thunderbolt 3 too good to be true? Feedback from our customers and partners (kid) over the last few months certainly seems to indicate so. Since the announcement of USB Type C, vendors have released products using the USB-C connector with very exciting features including Thunderbolt 3. The problem is that those exciting features only work in very specific, and in some cases proprietary, situations.

This article is not meant to be a complete technical description of all things USB-C. Visit our website for a refresher on USB-C and Thunderbolt. We do believe there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it still looks like a long tunnel.

Thunderbolt 3 certified devices A MUST-HAVE for USB-C

At the moment, the USB-C connector is coming out in many brand name laptops and peripheral devices, but not living up to the USB-C nirvana that was touted 2 years ago. The problem is not the actual connector, but the different standards being adhered to by the devices being attached to the USB-C connector.

The USB-C and Thunderbolt article on our website details how there is a USB-C protocol and a Thunderbolt 3 protocol. The USB-C protocol is a subset of the Thunderbolt 3 protocol. This means that if you want to get everything that the USB-C connector promised 2 years ago, you must have devices that are Thunderbolt 3 certified. If you have any laptop, phone, display, hard drive, cable, dongle etc. that is not Thunderbolt 3 certified, then in most cases the data transfer rates, power and display capabilities default to the lowest spec’d device connected.

As the Thunderbolt 3 protocol has only really started being released on devices a few months ago, everything released with a USB-C connector up until now has not really been able to achieve the high standards promised except in a few vendor-only situations.

Major recall of Thunderbolt 3 compatible docking stations

An example of the confusion between USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 protocols and devices right now is docking stations. We know a large number of customers have purchased USB-C docking stations in the past 3-4 months who have been very disappointed with the compatibility between devices.

In one case, a brand name vendor laptop connected to their own brand docking station is failing. The last few months has seen a recall of many just-released docking stations with ‘Thunderbolt 3’ compatibility while other brands have delayed their release with the sole purpose of ensuring they have a quality product to offer the customers.

Our advice to customers… Be careful

Yet the idea behind the USB-C connector is a good one. We will soon see the release of more devices that are Thunderbolt 3 capable and improved compatibility. We estimate that come April/May 2017 the USBC Type C & Thunderbolt 3 will be in a much better place. If you can delay big purchases till then, you will have a much better chance of having a solution that will deliver on the promise of USB Type C. If not, we advise you to be very careful and test all the features you are after. So, are we there yet? Not yet, but there shouldn’t be any more detours before we finally do.


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 New QCC, new newsletter


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In this exciting year, QCC has expanded its capabilities to include Custom Wall Plates, grown its team by over 50% including the appointment of Andrew George as our Sales & Marketing Director, and has put in place a strategy that sees QCC focus on streamlining our rapidly expanding (marketing) operations.

This new Q-Connect newsletter launches the ‘new & improved’ QCC as we go into our 30th year in 2017. You can look forward to many exciting developments. As the USB-C article in this Q- Connect shows, QCC never stops listening to and anticipating developments in the market. QCC was, is and always will be about you, our valued customer.

My and Andrew’s door and email are always open for a chat or comments. Feel free to get in touch. 

Rob Boogers, CEO QCC


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New! The latest USB-C devices
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See the latest USB type C devices in our range, like the ALOGIC USB-C MultiPort Adapter with HDMI / USB 3.0 / Gigabit Ethernet/USB-C with Power (60W) and 4K2K support. Code USB-C-UCHDGECH. Compatible with Apple, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, Acer, Samsung Asus etc.