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Why Moving to USB Type-C for Audio is Bad for Gamers

Intel want USB Type-C to be the standard for audio on mobile devices. Let's talk about why this is isn't good for gamers.

Intel has recently proposed the 3.5mm audio jack be swapped for USB Type-C. This is following rumors that Apple is also  doing away with the standard method of getting audio into your ears by moving over to Lightning only. With upsides like better audio quality, or the ability to have more tech built into the headphones -- like temperature sensors, more accurate heartbeat monitors, or even noise cancellation which doesn't distort the audio as much -- what does this move mean for gamers?

Removing the 3.5mm jack removes flexibility

You know that feeling when you are playing a game on the bus/train and you see the battery indicator flash red? Luckily, you have a battery on hand to plug into your phone to give you some extra juice, but you can't plug it in because you are currently using your headphones to listen to that sweet music. You know that feeling? Oh wait...you don't. That's because your audio device is plugged into the simple and reliable 3.5mm jack.

Now, imagine having to pick between either having some sick tunes pumping through your soul to make your trip home better, or sitting there with the sounds of screeching brakes and people chatting about things you don't care about. All this just so that you can make the trip back home less stressful. That doesn't sound too great, does it?

One of the factors Intel has put forward for the USB Type-C audio use is that as phones get thinner, it's becoming harder to support multiple connections in devices. To which I question, shall we stop making things as thin as possible? Or just move onto using thinner connections and give adapters free with new phones? Maybe, if this does happen, everything needs to come with a passthrough connector? (Basically, an extra female connection.)

And cost is an issue

For around 50 years have we used the 3.5mm jack. In that time we have seen it go from a simple mono output, to now where it can be used to transfer non-audio data -- like in IR controls. 3.5mm jacks support audio input and output at the same time, as well as surround sound capabilities. They have come a long way in that time, but are also some of the cheapest specialized cables you can buy -- though of course just buying some electrical cable is cheaper.

USB Type-C is far too new for the transition to be cost effective for the consumer. Even with some of the amazing features which can be utilized with this, the consumer will lose out.

Do you want to be spending even more money on cheap, can be handled without care, earbuds just to have slightly better audio? Or just to have your earphones be able to tell your phone what your temperature is?

I find the inconvenience of not having the power/data connection free while listening to your game sounds, and the higher cost of peripherals, outweighs any benefits USB Type-C brings -- no matter how good the audio is.

Published May. 1st 2016
  • RegalSin
    Look the audio jacks is a form of data transfer and would be easier to implement. You can add an extra line and poof instant heart meter and other adjustments bs you do not need. You do not need these products at all. In fact it is a form of control and brainwashing similar to THX133 / 1984. We could even make products that predicts your actions/ time cop/ invade your privacy.

    Just checkout the Atari tape system. You can use that same system to play music from your pc and run games on your Atari. Even hack it a bit in order to load bigger games.

    Intel is just trying to cash in on people and they know how dumb you are. This I predict for newer devices.

    The simple solution is just to boycott any new products that features these new products. Remember Apple have a slave market of employees who are getting paid below the belt. One apple phone could probably pay for an employee for a year.

    Again the key word is to boycott. As with USB vs. Firewire or even vs. Printer Cable bus ( forget the name ) you must just boycott. The problem is too many consumers are not techies and just do not care.

    My advice is just to ignore these products all together and save your money. The goal is to force you to buy an adapter or something for $29.99 + in a store like a non-techie. Usually this is women folks.
  • Chrisator
    Featured Contributor
    There's another very important factor to remember though; almost all new phones support wireless charging now, and wireless chargers are becoming much cheaper. So, by the time this technology becomes effective, you wouldn't even need an extra cable slot for your charger.

    More importantly though, you can't base a decision against USB-C on the fact that it doesn't add much to your device yet. In time, there'll definitely be some very cool features that go with headphones, which you then won't be able to live without. That can't happen until the technology becomes mainstream though.
  • Pierre Fouquet
    Associate Editor
    I would argue against almost all new phones having wireless charging, it's only on the high end you see it often, but with most phones being sold at mid-low range you really don't see much wireless charging there.

    Yes, in the future with wireless charging being cheaper, you might, but I don't see it being used on all phones anyway.

    Google, with the Nexus 5 to the Nexus 5X removed wireless charging, because having both that and the USB Type-C connection would up the cost past what Google was wanting it to be sold at. Yes, you could argue "why didn't they sell it at the same price, and make less money off it." The simple fact is, they didn't... But I agree they SHOULD have.

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