HP’s new Spectre hybrid might be a knockoff of Microsoft’s Surface 3 and 4 ultralights, but it stands out on one front: it includes the latest USB standard, previously available only on Macs.
USB Type C (or USB-C) is distinctive not just for its top-end data-transport speeds of up to 10Gbps, but also for its high-power output.
USB-C: Power and speed in one easy connection
The versatility of USB-C (Wikipedia info), at least in its current implementation on notebooks, might also be its Achilles’ heel. We’ve been accustomed to multiple USB ports on our computers to handle mice and keyboards, flash drives, external hard disks, a wide array of portable devices, and synching connections for smartphones and tablets. But as exemplified by the HP Spectre X2 (more info), USB-C ports can also play double-duty as power-input ports.
So not only will we want to use our USB-C ports for high-speed data transfers, we’ll also use it to to plug in the notebook’s AC adapter. Moreover, Type C’s smaller port could result in compatibility issues with some existing USB cables and devices.
When Apple first included a single, dual-purpose USB-C in a MacBook, the small port was sold as a marvel of technology. But to consumers, it seemed likely a sneaky way of forcing users to purchase a new round of USB adapters, cables, dongles, and/or hubs. The HP Spectre resolves this, somewhat, by including two USB-C ports on either side of the quarter-inch thin chassis. HP also includes a Type C-to-standard–USB adapter in the box.
Two multi-function USB ports are better than one when you’re on the road, but at home or in the office, this wafer-thin hybrid screams for a compatible docking station to handle my usual collection of peripherals. After some research, I settled on OWC’s USB-C Dock — more on that below.