A USB-C monitor uses the highly versatile – but super-fast – USB-C cable to connect to your device. As devices move towards a universal connection type, it’s useful to have the broad functionality of a USB-C connection on your display. With 2-way data transfer, charging, and a host of other advantages, it looks like USB-C connections may be the future of monitors and other devices. But there are still some drawbacks to the tech that you should be aware of first.
Read more below to learn more about getting a USB-C monitor that works for you.
The first USB came out in 1996. Now, 23 years later, USB 3.2 is undergoing industry adoption via USB-C (or USB Type-C) connectors. This includes a wide range of use cases, like through dedicated USB-C monitors.
It’s been a rapid journey for USB from 1.0 to the newest iterations, and it’s probably a bit more complicated than you thought.
Let’s go into why.
Otherwise known as a Universal Series Bus, chances are good that you’ve used a USB drive to transfer documents at some point in the past. You should know the key differences between the different variants. Primarily, the USB version number refers to the speed at which USB-housed data can transfer. For instance, USB 1.0, at full speed, could transfer data at 1.5 Megabytes per second. On the other hand, the SuperSpeed USB 3.2 can transfer data at a rate of 2.5 Gigabytes per second. That’s an incredible improvement!
The other key difference between USB variants lies in their connective plugs. Type A and Type B, as well as the smaller-sized variants therein, have dominated the USB market for much of the technology’s existence. Since 2014, however, USB type-C has rapidly grown in popularity, particularly given its presence as a one-cable solution.
Complete with integration in commercially available computers, USB-C monitors, or USB Type-C Monitors, have become a subsection unto themselves. Here-onward, we aim to help clear any remaining confusion and help you make an informed USB-C monitor purchase.
What is USB-C?
USB-C is formally known as USB Type-C. Designed in 2014, it was made available around the same time as USB 3.1. As a connector with 24-pins, 12 on each side, USB-C was developed with an eye towards increased transfer speeds.
This so-called two-lane design has made USB-C, or USB Type-C, attractive to many more applications beyond simple USB thumb drives. Today, as a one-cable solution, you can find it integrated into Thunderbolt, HDMI, and Displayport, to name a few. Considering its breadth of implementation, USB-C ports can be found in Macs and PCs alike. In that regard, when purchasing a USB-C monitor, the more compatibility the better.
The Benefits of USB-C Monitor Ownership
As it goes for most modern electronics, USB-C monitors, or USB Type-C monitors, are here to make your life easier and more convenient. Between inter-device compatibility, usage flexibility, and the capacity for high-resolution videos, there are certainly enough benefits to USB-C monitor ownership to justify your interest. Thereby, USB-C monitors offer users a one-cable solution.
Non-Universal plugs are the worst, aren’t they? First, you have to manage all the different cords, especially if you’re on-the-go. Your phone charger, your computer charger, your headphones, and on and on and on.
Luckily, USB-C monitors, as well as USB-C as a whole, are here to help. Now, if you want to connect your MacBook and PC tablet, it’s as easy as plugging in your USB-C, cable into the respective ports. It truly is a one-cable solution. Believe it or not, this example will work in the context of nearly all of your devices, from your Android phone to your chrome book, and beyond.
Unlike your other devices’ cords and ports, a UCB-C monitor possesses an incredibly flexible range of uses, thereby acting as a docking station. For instance, as a one-cable solution, you can connect your laptop to your monitor, thereby transmitting onto the larger screen. At the same time, the USB-C cable, when connected to the monitor, can be used to charge your phone.
USB-C monitors, typically, are capable of displaying high-resolution video. This usually manifests as 4K UHD and 60 frames per second, with audio transmitted in tandem. All in all, that’s very good, and due to the high-speed transmission capabilities of USB-C, or USB Type-C, as a whole, this benefit remains true when connecting from your laptop, smartphone, or tablet. At the very least, owners of USB-C monitors can rest assured that when connected from these devices, a visual downgrade will not be experienced.
Can USB-C Monitor Ownership Have Drawbacks?
Although modern electronics aim to make your life easier, many products come up short. This may have nothing to do with the product itself, but rather to do with how the industry, as a whole, shifts over time. Designed obsolescence, the need for accessories, and the lack of compatibility with older inputs are a few of the hassles you may face as an owner of a USB-C monitor.
Know Your Ports
As inputs slowly trend towards a universal design – USB Type-C included – certain classic ports are being eliminated from the latest product iterations. Apple laptops, especially, are guilty of this. Once upon a time, their machines were equipped with HDMI, USB, headphone, Thunderbolt, SD, disk drive, ethernet, firewire, and DisplayPort. Compare that to today, where all those options have been streamlined to a couple of USB-C ports.
When purchasing a USB Type-C monitor, be sure to take note as to what other ports are present. If it is USB-C exclusive, then you will have to purchase individual adapters or a general USB dock in order to regain the full range of possible inputs. In short, know what you’re buying before you make a final commitment.
When purchasing technology of any kind, it’s understandable to wonder whether a new model is just around the corner. Moreover, the questioning might then turn to how long your potential new product will last. The issue at hand is that our society has been taught to replace a product, as opposed to maintaining it. How often have you considered selling your existing product to simply buy the latest version?
This trend is bolstered by the concept of designed obsolescence, whereby manufacturers design their products to break after a certain period of time, usually when a newer model is on the near horizon. This holds true in the context of USB-C monitors. In the past 23 years, USBs as a whole have experienced 3 major iterations and 12 different connection types. All in all, it’s a technology that experiences rapid change and development. Therefore, when buying a USB-C, or USB Type-C, monitor, ensure that the port won’t go out of style in the near future.
USB-C Shopping Tips
Congratulations! You’re now fully versed on what USB-C monitors are, as well as on their advantages and disadvantages. The former, obviously, including USB Type-C’s ability to act as a one-cable solution. Now it’s time for you to go shopping. Since it surely is everyone’s favorite activity, this should be the fun part. With that in mind, we’ve compiled three tips for those who are looking to narrow down the USB Type-C monitor options. These range in budgetary limitations, the port options, and the designed intent of the monitor itself.
If you’re looking for a USB-C monitor on the extremely cheap side, you had better look elsewhere. That said, if you’re looking for cheap relative to other USB Type-C monitors, then there are options. Either way, assume that you’ll be spending about $300 to $500 for a base model, with higher-end models reaching up to thousands of dollars.
Know Your Strengths
As is true for almost any purchase, make certain that your selection fits your needs, as opposed to assuming a one-size-fits-all mentality. This is the case with USB-C monitors since, if you’re spending the money, it should be optimized to best suit your goals. Best USB Type-C monitors for design, sound quality, portability, office use, home use, dual-monitor setups, and gaming are just a few of the variants that you could choose to pursue.
Think Outside the Port
Although a USB-C monitor’s port options are definitely a deciding factor, don’t let imperfections in that regard scare you off from an otherwise fine product. That’s where USB-C docks come into play. In context, think of them as large-scale adapters that bring missing port options to than otherwise exclusive USB-C monitor. As such, when purchasing a USB Type-C monitor, think outside of the box to find solutions to your port-related issues. It could be that you’re one useful accessory away from a solution!
Recommending a USB-C Monitor
Honestly, there are several good USB-C monitors on the market. If you were asked to recommend a single brand, however, ViewSonic should be it! The company’s VG2455 and VG2755 monitors truly exist on the cutting-edge and are perfect for those looking for a monitor that emphasizes ergonomics, design, versatile connectivity, consistent visuals, and a one-cable solution. For more information on the VG Series, check out this video. Moreover, if you’re interested in the monitors themselves, and to see whether one of them may be the product of your dreams, be sure to check out dedicated webpages for both the VG2455 and the VG2755.