Universal Serial Bus (USB) is the most popular interface in electronics for establishing communication between computers and external devices such as printers and cameras among many others. While some devices such as flash drives can plug directly into a USB port, many others depend on a USB cable to connect to computers.
USB 2.0 Cables
An upgrade of the original USB interface, 2.0 was released in 2000 and is the most common version in use today. USB 2.0 cable has the capability to transfer 480 megabits of information per second (mpbs); a data rate 40 faster than the previous version. Cameras, scanners and portable music players are some of the many electronic devices in which 2.0 cables are used to connect to computers.
USB to Serial Adapters
Due to worldwide use of the interface, most devices are now manufactured with USB-compatibility. However, devices such as some GPS navigation systems, sensors and loggers still rely on the use of Serial RS-232 ports. To connect to these devices, it is necessary to use a USB to serial adapter.
Before purchasing a USB to serial adapter, it is important to make sure it is compatible with your computer's operating system. Most adapters are compatible with Windows 95, 98, 2000 and XP, but not all work with Windows Vista and Windows 7. Attempting to use a USB to serial adapter that is incompatible with your operating system can cause your computer to freeze up.
Additionally, a reliable USB adapter should:
• Have a data transfer rate capability of over 500 kilobytes per second.
• Provide 96 byte buffer for upstream and downstream data flow.
• Offer remote support for computer performance features such as wake-up and power management.
• Be compatible for use with cell phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs) digital cameras and modems.
• Be free of issues that can interrupt request (IRQ) conflicts.
USB 3.0 Cable
USB 3.0 is a faster version of the interface that was released in 2010. USB 3.0 cables have a five Gigabyte per second (gbps) transfer rate, which allows files to be uploaded to computers dramatically faster than through 2.0.
USB 3.0 cables are also much more efficient with power supply management. This feature is especially beneficial for devices such as portable hard drives that require additional power from a second USB port.
Physically, USB 3.0 cable is a lot thicker than 2.0 cables due to the addition of five lines that allow for the faster transfer rate. Despite the physical differences of the new version, 3.0 cables are compatible with 2.0 ports, eliminating the need to purchase an adaptor.
This is just an overview of the capabilities provided by the most popular cables available on the market today. If there is uncertainty as to which cable would work for your situation, it's best to consult a supplier of computer, networking and audio visual cables.