Type A or Type C

by Volker Weber


This was a bit of a trick question. You can view it as choice between the past and the future. You can also view it as a question about convenience. I have literally hundreds of things that require a USB Type A connector and I have only three things that have a USB Type C connector. And they all came with a Type A to C cable.

IMG 9868

The question became interesting when Microsoft announced two new computers, the Surface Laptop and the new Surface Pro, and did not provide a Type C connector, drawing much criticism from pundits. Much in the same (or opposite) way that Apple received for their "courageous" decision to provide only Type C connectors on MacBook and MacBook Pro. Panos Panay:

“I love the technology in Type-C, I believe in Type-C,” explains Microsoft’s Surface chief, Panos Panay, in an exclusive interview with The Verge. "When Type-C is ready for our customers, to make it easy for them, we’ll be there.” While Panay isn’t ready to add USB-C to Surface devices just yet, he thinks he has the answer: a dongle. “If you love Type-C, it means you love dongles,” jokes Panay. “We’re giving a dongle to people who love dongles.”

I can't count the number of times people have moaned about their need to bring dongles for their Type A devices. Eventually, the dust will clear and we might have Thunderbolt 3 with Type C connectors but for the time being, this area is very confusing. Power supplies that fry electronics through Type C, cables that aren't complying to standards, confusion between Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3.1 protocols. If it fits, it does not sit.


The ubiquitous connector for Surface is the reversible and magnetic Surface Connector. It connects Surface dock to all mobile Surface computers, it connects the Surface Book clipboard to the base or a dock, it connects to the power supply. This one is going to stay. Eventually there will be Type C Thunderbolt connectors on Surface. In the meantime you will be able to bridge from the Surface Connector to Type C via a dongle. And plug a gazillion of Type A connectors into the device without a dongle.


the actual size of the A connector doesn't bother me all that much.. it's actually pretty small (compared to say parallel and serial cables), what the C (and the Lightning) connectors have that's great is the ability to plug them in any which way.
As far as I can tell, USB-As were designed to ensure you never get it right the first time.

Craig Wiseman, 2017-05-25

Type A are those three-sided beasts, right? You try first, no fit, turn around, still no fit, turn around again - fits 🤣

Hubert Stettner, 2017-05-25

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