I Want My USB-C! Why the Surface's Missing Port Is a Big Problem.

eza

Honorable
Aug 24, 2012
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10,540
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Well I want a beefed-up Surface Go with a quad Core CPU and 16GB RAM!

What I really want is for Sony to start making Vaios again ;-(
 
Oct 3, 2018
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Really, really, do we need a USB-C? Just to connect external peripherals and USB sticks, how many of your uses that device for something more, at office I don't believe it.
 

jimmysmitty

Champion
Moderator
Short of charging I see not real need for them to have a Type-C port. It would be nice but hell even high end computer cases are barely adding them, some still don't.

The adoption over to it is not 100% yet although it is moving.

The other side is that there are issues with it, as it is USB. Out Dell laptops at work for our regular users are Latitudes and recently Dell killed the dock port in favor of USB Type-C docks. We have been running into sporadic issues with them. Sometimes you plug it in and the monitors don't come up. Sometimes one monitor works and the other doesn't. We had a system that needed the latest updates to be able to get internet connectivity (something with the driver that was on there was causing our Sonicwall to block the IP from access but fixed with a new driver). There is a Thunderbolt version of the dock we have gotten for our Precision users and that works much better but they are pretty pricey ($320-$350 depending on the power size). I also don't trust third party docks as much.

However I have not seen or run into these issues with Microsoft's dock. While proprietary is a PITA in some cases it also tends to have more benefits that can outweigh the down sides. While I am not an Apple consumer and never will be their tight control on their products allow them to create a cleaner experience. Microsoft controlling the hardware and software for their charging/docking port allows them to make sure the experience is better than they could with USB Type-C because again they are at the mercy of the USB consortium and the drivers made by a third party.

It would be nice but I also think they will add it when they redesign the Surface rather than a refresh.
 

spdragoo

Splendid
Ambassador
Universal charging: This is only a negative, apparently, for those who a) have some Android phones, or b) people whose friends only have those laptops/tablets that have USB-C power bricks. Note, I said "some" on the Android phones, because not all of them do. Not to mention that, if you're the kind of person that is likely to forget your laptop charger, you probably also tend to forget your phone charger. Not to mention there's a big difference between a smartphone that charges via USB-C port (since it most likely plugs into a 1A or 2.1A charger plug) & a laptop power brick (that needs a lot more wattage). 2.1A (what my wife's iPad charger provides) might be enough for many tablets, but I'm guessing it's a bit on the lean side compared to what the Surface Pro needs.

Power Banks: Sorry, but there are tons of power banks out there that will work with USB-C, microUSB, & even standard USB...because they have the standardized USB ports on them. So just because your preferred power bank only works with USB-C devices doesn't mean this is a problem for the Surface Pro.

Docking: Ah, yes, because we've never in the history of computing had issues with 3rd-party devices having any sorts of problems working with devices. And just because it doesn't work with USB-C docks doesn't mean the Surface Pro wouldn't work with, say, USB-equipped docks. The important thing here, though, is that your office's "hoteling" is not representative of even 90% of the offices out there...& the particular docks you use in your office may be the ones picked by your office, but isn't the only option available for those that want to "hotel" at work.

New Peripherals: Sorry, but even though it's been around for a couple of years now, the number of peripherals that use Thunderbolt 3, let alone USB-C, is still woefully low compared to those that are compatible with USB3.0 (or even 2.0 or earlier). And the vast majority of users (power or otherwise) do not replace their peripherals simply because "the newest, latest, greatest" tech has been released. They might do so if they need extra capability provided by the new standard, or if they're forced to because the system it was hooked up to has now been replaced & has no option for that kind of connection...but just replacing because "ooh, this new tech is so cool!!" is a good way to spend yourself out of business.

Microsoft Has Its Reasons: USB-C is not a critical feature, at least not for everyone out there. There may be some that consider it critical...but there are many more who do not.

But, luckily, this is just an op-ed (i.e. opinion) piece...just like the recent article telling us to "just buy" the RTX cards...
 

Reynod

Administrator
My surface 1 has a standard USB Port on it ... frankly that is the one thing that is good about it.

Mind you ... it still goes ... tough little mongrel ... even the detachable KB.

Accessibility is the key for any device moving forward ...
 

TThorlord

Commendable
Dec 16, 2016
2
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1,510
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USB-C currently has a power delivery limitation of 100W (20v, 5A), Many high-powered laptops need more than that.
It's not an issue for the current Surface lineup (Other than the 15" Surface Book 2, which can use over 100w) but I bring it up solely because manufacturers would run into this limitation if they ever tried to make USB-C the main way to charge the laptop.

They should still include a USB-C port though (Like the mentioned Surface Book 2 has) as having the option for USB-C for charging even if it's not enough juice for some devices is absolutely better than nothing.
 

s1mon7

Proper
Oct 3, 2018
94
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Frankly, I absolutely don't think it's a problem, and surely not a "BIG problem".

At the time when the most commonly available cables can fry you port (the only port in case of the Surface series) including it would be irresponsible of Microsoft. Not to mention other issues, such as seeing your phone charge your laptop or attempting to throw the screen. I've had it happen all, and that's with a Galaxy S8, which is as safe of a USB-C device as you can get.

That's only one point I was trying to make. The other one is that there's hardly anything that you might need USB-C for. The peripherals, after so many years, are still in an overwhelming amount of cases using USB-A. Even flash drives and power banks are USB-A, and they sometimes also have a USB-C port. The standard, after so many years, does not seem to be becoming an actual standard. The devices you are most likely to connect to that single USB port are incomparably more likely to be USB-A. Now and in the upcoming years.

Just earlier this year I build a computer with a Z370 board. The board has 8 USB ports. None of them are 3.1 or type C. I predict I will never need such port for the lifetime of that computer, so maybe until 2021-2022.
 
I'm with Avram on this one. My SP3 died on me a few weeks back and the SP6 launching with the same port configuration was a key factor in my decision to order a second hand SP3, rather than springing for the newer model.

It's not so much about the charging for me (though that would be nice), but rather the opportunity to include a second USB port. The single USB port is a serious limitation with the Surface Pro line, and always has been IMHO.

MS had a great opportunity here to swap the Mini-DP port for a USB-C port. They could keep the proprietary Surface Connect port (the magnetic connectors and backwards compatibility with previous gen docks does offer tangible benefits). But USB-C instead of Mini-DP is a straight upgrade. You'd get a second a USB port when you want, which is pretty often in my case. Plus, it's not like the Mini-Displayport connector would be greatly missed. I move around offices, lecture theatres and presentation spaces pretty regularly and when I want to connect my Surface to an external display or projector setup, I expect to have to supply my own cable 100% of the time. If MS swapped the mini-DP for USB-C, I'd just take a USB-C to HDMI (or DP) cable with me, instead of the MiniDP to HDMI cable I currently travel with. The cable cost is pretty similar.

How is USB-C not just a more versatile MiniDP port? It would have been a straight upgrade IMHO.

Maybe, maybe you could argue that a Thunderbolt enabled USB-C port was too much to ask for. But honestly, these are high end, expensive, "pro" devices. I'm with Avram. Late 2018 release with one USB port and Mini-DP is just lazy IMHO.
 
Ok different level of device but I just replaced my Surface 3 with the Surface Go and the loss of USB-A is the only downside. I’ve now had to buy a few USB-A to USB-C adapters and add one to my key ring as most things I want to use are not USB-C.

However on a Pro device it should have both.
 

velocityg4

Illustrious
They could be like Apple and go the other way entirely by only offering USB-C + Thunderbolt 3.

Ultimately, it's mostly techies which freak out about this. The average person just needs a charger and one or two USB ports. One port for their wireless mouse or mouse + keyboard and one for a USB Flash drive for that rare time they need to copy a file that way. A small minority also needs a monitor. An even smaller minority Ethernet and other devices. Although they'll make due just fine with a USB 3.0 hub. Most people just need that mouse and occasional Flash drive everything else is done over WiFi. I doubt most people are aware enough to think about looking for USB C.

I'm certain if I polled my clients. A majority of them would have know idea what I'm talking about USB A, USB C it's all Greek to them. They'd certainly be shocked to find out that the USB C charger for their fancy laptop can charge their phone or some other laptop. Then they'd be confused when they plug some other laptop with USB C in and it doesn't charge because not all laptops with USB C can charge over USB C.
 

Daniel_225

Commendable
May 10, 2016
4
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1,510
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I get it. I agree with the article. Now link me a 2 in 1 with a Thunderbolt 3 port for <$1,000. I'm still waiting.
 
Oct 4, 2018
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Or maybe we can start having ports again. I don't understand the meaning of ultra portable but then I need to bring along dongles and docks to use. Same with storage. So good for 4K video and super powerful but, then again the storage is nothing. It used to be that I would pay less to have all these ports built-in. They now charge lots for portability but take away ports, and then charge lots more to add them back as dongles. Doesn't seem too portable after all.
 

rubix_1011

Contributing Writer
Moderator
USB-C isn't a huge problem, but the lack of at least one port is somewhat questionable practice by any manufacturer looking to appeal to as many users as possible.

Plus, the real estate a single USB-C port occupies is relatively small, so placement should be easier than HDMI and USB2/3.

Lack of the port isn't an atrocity, but it is kind of awkward.
 
I've owned 3 computers over the last few years that have had USB Type C ports and I've used them like... 6 times. That is because the only USB C device I actually own is my Pixel, and that came with a USB C to USB A cable. As far as peripherals, I have none. Everything I need is a USB A... and my current laptop has 3 of those and only one Type C. So, if by happenstance I have USB C devices, I could only use one at a time... or spring for a dock or hub which would cost me more. So... where is my incentive as a consumer to get more USB C devices if my laptop or desktop or phone only has 1 port? When computers regularly start coming with 3 or more USB C ports and peripherals of greater quality or capability start becoming more numerous I'll upgrade, but until then I don't see a reason to abandon what I have and what works for me, and I imagine a great many people agree with me which is why USB C adoption has been so slow.
 

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