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July 15, 2015

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USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3: An Overview

USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 represent some of the latest technological innovations in the computing industry. As the leading supplier of docking stations for the Apple ecosystem, we at Henge Docks would like to provide a brief overview of these technologies, their benefits and what these new innovations mean for the consumer.

USB (Universal Serial Bus) connectors have been the industry standard for cable connections between computers and external peripheral devices since the mid 1990s. USB Type-C is the latest of these connectors. Developed and certified by the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), USB Type-C is already backed by many companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Dell, Intel and many others. Announced in 2014 and debuted at CES 2015 in January, USB Type-C was quickly becoming well known in the tech industry. With the release of the new MacBook in April, and the announcement of Thunderbolt 3 using the USB Type-C architecture in June, Apple highlights this new, versatile benchmark technology.

USB Type-C is accompanied by the USB 3.1 performance standard, which doubles the throughput of USB 3.0, as well as providing greater power delivery. Additionally, Intel introduced the superior Thunderbolt 3, announcing that it will be housed in a USB Type-C connector. Along with the superior speeds and capabilities of USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3, the two most notable features of USB-C are its ability to work with myriad devices and its reversible plug orientation, which eliminates the hassle of determining which way the connector fits in the port. It is also backwards compatible with previous USB devices. In this overview, we’ll break down these and other key characteristics of USB-C, and what they mean for the consumer.

Design

The first thing to understand about USB Type-C is that its name refers to the architecture of the connector, differentiating it from the older USB Type-A and USB Type-B connectors. As opposed to its predecessors, USB-C is small, slim and accepts reversible connections. Anyone who has used previous USB iterations knows how clumsy plugging and unplugging their connections can be. With this new reversible connector, connecting devices will be much simpler. Users will be able to plug in the cable in either direction.

A third of the size of the USB-A connector, USB-C is backwards compatible with all previous USB models through the use of proper adapters, though noting that the lowest USB speeds being channelled will be used. Its slimmer design allows thinner devices, such as smart phones, to use USB-C technology.

Technology

At its heart, USB Type-C is a single-cable solution for video, audio, data and power delivery.  USB Type-C implies support of USB 3.1, which features SuperSpeed 10 Gbps and USB Power Delivery up to 100W. USB 3.1 is available in Gen 1, which features 5 Gbps speeds, and Gen 2, which provides 10 Gbps. The bi-directional 100W power delivery allows the sending and receiving of power for devices both large and small, with devices pulling only as much power as they need. Utilizing the universality of the 100W power delivery system of USB-C with USB 3.1 could potentially foreshadow the end of proprietary charging cables, as Apple has done with the 2015 MacBook, eschewing the MagSafe for USB-C.

USB-C and USB 3.1 together allow simultaneous charging and data transmission, and with DisplayPort Alternate Mode, or Alt Mode, audio and video as well. The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) partnered with the USB-IF to implement Alt Mode into USB Type-C technology. There will be USB-C adapters for VGA, DVI and HDMI displays, and Alt Mode enables the display to be driven without the connecting device featuring a specific display port. USB-C with USB 3.1 features four lanes over which signals can be transmitted, of which Alt Mode can utilize one, two, or all four to drive displays, at the same time that USB data and power are also being transmitted. Together, USB-C and Alt Mode automatically determine how many lanes are needed for a particular display, and allocate signals as they are needed, adjusting data speeds as necessary. If only one or two lanes are utilized by DisplayPort, USB data remains at USB 3.1 speeds up to 10 Gpbs. For a display requiring all four lanes (such as a 5K monitor), USB data slows to 2.0 speeds of 480 Mbps.

From its outset, the USB Type-C was intended for use with USB 3.1, however, the USB-C architecture can also pair with older, slower USB specifications, such as USB 3.0 and 2.0. This could lead to consumer confusion, as someone might be expecting higher speeds from their USB-C connection, when that particular cable might contain only USB 2.0 technology. Most USB-C with USB 2.0 will be likely be exclusive to mobile devices.

Though not quite the 20 Gbps speeds of Thunderbolt, the 10 Gbps speed of USB 3.1 is still exceptionally fast. Whereas Thunderbolt was not highly utilized in the market due to its cost, USB is omnipresent in the market and less expensive, making USB-C likely to be a widely-adopted industry leader.

USB-C and Thunderbolt 3

Intel recently announced its forthcoming Thunderbolt 3 technology which allows transfer speeds of an incredible 40 Gbps and support for dual 4K displays. Most exciting, apart from its technological capabilities, is that Thunderbolt 3 will be housed in the USB-C architecture. This means that future MacBooks could come with a Thunderbolt 3 port that features USB 3.1, enabling both USB Type-C and Thunderbolt capabilities without the use of any adapters. This would make Thunderbolt more accessible and reduce the confusion with Mini DisplayPort, as one single port for various technologies offers far more convenience than having a mess of difference ports and cables. Given its superior speed and connectivity, Thunderbolt 3 will be the more expensive option over USB 3.1, but this port universality will make it much easier to adopt across various platforms, which in turn could lower prices of Thunderbolt devices.

Conclusion

With the capability to produce video, audio, data and power simultaneously through one reversible connector, USB Type-C is the technology of the future. No longer will a plethora of different cables and connectors be necessary, instead they will run through one single connection and port. Thunderbolt 3 paired with the USB-C design will allow both technologies to reach an ever-larger consumer base, furthering the appeal of both. While adoption into products may take some time, USB-C is the universal connection that the world has been waiting for.


Sources

Avari, Jamshed. "Tech 101: USB Type-C - What It Is and What It Isn't." NDTV Gadgets. NDTV, 31 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Demerjian, Charlie. "VESA Puts Displayport1.3 into USB-C." SemiAccurate On Target Technology News. SemiAccurate, 22 Sept. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Fingas, Roger. "Why Apple Is Banking on USB-C for Its All-new 12-inch MacBook and beyond." Apple Insider. Apple Insider, 25 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Hoffman, Chris. "USB Type-C Explained: What It Is and Why You’ll Want It."HowTo Geek. How-To Geek LLC, 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

Saunders, Brad. "USB 3.0 Promoter Group Announces USB Type-C Connector Ready for Production." USB.org (2014): n. pag. 12 Aug. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2015.

USB 3.0 Promoter Group. Universal Serial Bus Type-C Cable and Connector Specification. Tech. no. 1.1. USB 3.0 Promoter Group, 3 Apr. 2015. Web. 6 Apr. 2015.

July 15, 2015

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June 29, 2015

2 Comments


Introducing the Henge Docks EU Site!

We are very excited to officially announce the launch our European website! This opens up the opportunity for our European customers to purchase Henge Docks products without the hassle of customs fees, and to receive faster, more accurate shipping of their orders.

Orders placed via eu.hengedocks.com will be shipped from our new warehouse located in the United Kingdom. These orders should arrive within one week, depending on location, as opposed to 2 to 4 weeks from the United States. Additionally, import taxes and fees will be significantly less, as products are shipped from within Europe.

We are very happy to open our European warehouse and launch its corresponding site so that we are better able to serve our European customers! If you have any questions, get in touch with us at info@hengedocks.com.

 

June 29, 2015

2 Comments

June 16, 2015

1 Comment


Meet the Henge Docks Summer Interns

Summer is here, and with it, our first interns! Here at Henge Docks, our startup environment fosters a lot of learning. Each team member enjoys the opportunity to gain knowledge in various areas across the business. We value this thirst for knowledge, and knew that Henge Docks would be a great place in which college students could thrive, where they can gain valuable skills (and have a great time). We are excited to welcome Alana and Laura to Henge Docks and introduce them to the organized chaos that is life in a San Francisco startup. 

Alana and Laura, Henge Docks' first interns.

A sophomore at University of San Francisco studying Business Administration, Alana joined us in March as our Customer Support Intern. Alana interacts directly with customers to answer any questions they might have. She also has been working with Sean, our Customer Support Strategist, to implement procedures to help grow our support team. Alana’s favorite part of her internship is that she has the opportunity to experience several different areas of the business, especially social media, marketing and branding. With the skills she’s learning here at Henge Docks coupled with her enjoyment of trying new things, Alana plans to eventually start and run her own business. Before that she would like to put her 10 years of Spanish education to use by studying abroad in Spain.

Entering her final year of study, Laura will graduate this December with a Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois. As Henge Docks’ Product Development Intern, Laura offers realistic mechanical solutions for any design issues for future products - she’s very excited to be directly a part of making Henge Docks products come to life. Laura loves playing board games, and is particularly skilled at bluffing games with large groups of friends. She also has a growing talent in glow poi. During her summer in San Francisco, she hopes to taste all of the city’s delicious food. When she graduates, Laura would like to move to California to work full time in a tech startup.

We hope Alana and Laura enjoy their time at Henge Docks and take away experience that they'll use in their future careers. We’re very glad they are part of the team! 
June 16, 2015

1 Comment

March 24, 2015

20 Comments


Update: Horizontal Dock for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display

Today the team received the first pre-production unit of the Horizontal Dock for the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display from our manufacturing partner. This dock is the first testing unit that will be used by our engineering team to evaluate the second model in the Horizontal Dock family.

This will be the first of many quality assurance checks in the manufacturing process, and this and other pre-production units ensure that the eventual final product will meet our high design standards. Any changes or updates that need to be made will be communicated with our manufacturer throughout the coming months, thus beginning the first steps in the final stage leading to the manufacturing of production units.

We thank everyone for their continued enthusiasm for the Horizontal Dock. We couldn’t be more excited to have this unit in house, and look forward to the release of the Horizontal Dock for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display later this year!
March 24, 2015

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March 15, 2015

2 Comments


SXSW Interactive is a Go!

Third day in Austin, first day of the show! After two days of set up, the Henge Docks team kicked off day one of the SXSW Interactive trade show this morning at the Austin Convention Center. We've met a lot of great people so far, and are excited for the next four days of the exhibition! 

If you're at SXSW this year, be sure to stop by Booth 324/326 to interact with the full lineup of Henge Docks products, take advantage of show specials and enter to win a set of Audioengine A2+ speakers. Any at-show Gravitas purchase qualifies you to win these awesome powered desktop speakers, with the showdown to select the winner taking place on Monday at 3pm. We look forward to seeing you at the show!

March 15, 2015

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March 11, 2015

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Henge Docks Heads to SXSW 2015!

The end of trade show season is quickly approaching, and Henge Docks is wrapping it up with SXSW 2015. The team is heading to Austin on Friday, where we’ll spend two days setting up our booth for the SXSW Interactive show. Running from Sunday through Wednesday, SXSW Interactive will showcase up and coming companies, products, apps and more, and we’re very excited to be participating for our fourth year! If you’ll be in town for the festival, be sure to stop by Booth 324/326 at the Austin Convention Center to visit Henge Docks and interact with our complete product lineup, including the Horizontal Dock!

All of our products will be available for purchase at SXSW, at special discount pricing for show attendees. While the Gravitas is sold out online, we’ll have it and iPhone 6 and 6 Plus inserts available at the show. Additionally, we will be featuring another contest this year for a chance to win a pair of Audioengine A2+ speakers!

The team is looking forward to a week in Texas, working the show and enjoying the wealth of activities related to SXSW. We’d love to see you at the Interactive show, or out and about in Austin! We've got a full list of events, films and bands we'll be seeing in our free time - do you? Know of any cool bands worth jamming to? Interesting films being screened? Or just general fun events that mustn’t be missed? Let us know!

March 11, 2015

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March 09, 2015

24 Comments


Apple Announces the New MacBook

During Apple’s Spring Forward event today, the brand-new 12-inch Retina MacBook was introduced. The incredibly thin notebook features a revamped trackpad, Core M processor, edge-to-edge keyboard and a single USB-C port. This last feature, the USB-C port, is probably the new MacBook’s most talked about feature. It’s the only USB port on the MacBook! What is everyone going to do with all of their USB devices they’ve invested in over the years? Don’t worry, Henge Docks has got you covered!

Since the new MacBook was just announced, we don’t yet have a timeline for a dock for this new notebook, but we do have one in the works. Our product developers are already working on potential designs for the dock. We’re all very excited about the new MacBook, and the dock that awaits it. Once we have more information, we will of course let everyone know!

Are there any key features or functions you’re looking for in our forthcoming dock for the new MacBook? Let us know in the comments!
March 09, 2015

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January 15, 2015

12 Comments


Update: The Horizontal Dock Early Adopter Program is Sold Out!

Since the Horizontal Dock went on sale last week, we’ve seen an incredible amount of orders come through - so much so that our Early Adopter Program has sold out! We couldn’t be more excited and thankful for the enthusiasm around this product, and we look forward to working directly with our Early Adopters as we roll out the Horizontal Dock this April.

For those who have yet to purchase a Horizontal Dock, not to worry! These powerful docks are still available for general order and will begin shipping in June.

As always, we thank you for your continued support of the Horizontal Dock and Henge Docks. We work diligently each day to bring you the best docks and accessories for your Apple products, and your feedback is greatly appreciated!

January 15, 2015

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January 06, 2015

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Henge Docks at 2015 International CES!

My what a year it has been! The Henge Docks Team is here in Las Vegas for the 2015 International CES - our 4th time at the show! We’ve nearly doubled our team since this time last year. Many of our new employees are getting their crash course on Henge Docks life here at the trade show - there’s nothing better than being thrown into the wild of CES to get to know the company, products and people of Henge Docks!

Members of the Henge Docks team at the CEA Member Party at CES 2015

We’re excited for our new team members to join us, and invite you to visit all of us at Booth 5309 in the iLounge. We increased our booth size this year, going from a 10x20 to a 20x20 booth. We took the beautiful redwood design that we created last year and expanded it for this larger space. We’ll be showcasing our entire product line-up, including demonstrations of the powerful Horizontal Dock, which is now available for order! Be sure to stop by and check out all of our products or come relax on one of our couches, charge your iPhone on one of our myriad Gravitas and chat with the team!
January 06, 2015

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January 03, 2015

33 Comments


Update: The Horizontal Dock for 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina and MacBook Air

While we are happy to announce that the Horizontal Dock for 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display is available for purchase, we also wanted to give those customers that are looking forward to the Horizontal Dock for 13-inch MacBook Pro Retina model and the MacBook Air model an update.

Our primary focus with the Horizontal Dock has been the 15-inch MacBook Pro Retina model. We based this decision on early preorder numbers, as this MacBook was most popular among those who signed up for preorder. Our team wanted to perfect this first Horizontal Dock, and then focus on the 13-inch Macbook Pro Retina model, followed by the MacBook Air model.

The Horizontal Dock for 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display will be out in late 2015. As the port layout of this MacBook is the same as the 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, there are only a few changes that must be made for the 13-inch Horizontal Dock. This mainly entails our manufacturer updating the tooling used to create the dock, which is what will take the most time before we can release this model.

Our product engineers are currently working on the plans for the Horizontal Dock for MacBook Air. As they are still very early on in this process, we do not yet have a timeline for this dock, but it is definitely on our product roadmap! Once we have more information, we will let everyone know!

The Henge Docks team is very excited about all of these models of the Horizontal Dock. This dock is incredibly powerful, and we know our customers want to get their hands on this for their model of MacBook. We thank you for your continued interest in this product, and know that we are working diligently to deliver all planned models of the Horizontal Dock out as soon as possible!
January 03, 2015

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