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The Versatility of USB
USB: the very name suggests something versatile, and indeed the term stands for Universal Serial Bus.
However, the “universal” part has had less and less relevance over recent years as different versions of the port design have been introduced. The fault, of course, isn’t with the familiar chunky square plug that we insert into our PC's or mobile phone chargers – it’s at the other end, where variations on the standard connector have been added.
Mini USB and micro USB have been introduced to help extend the possibilities of USB, but sometimes they just cause problems – particularly on the days when you pick up and stuff into your pocket the wrong cable. What you would need in such a situation would be a mini USB to micro USB adapter.
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Different Types of USB Connectors
There are five commonly used USB connectors:
- Type A: the standard rectangle USB connector that you would plug into your PC
- Type B: the standard squared-off hexagon that you would commonly find connected to a Type A connector, often used on printers and scanners
- Mini-A: commonly used on mobile phones, MP3s and web camera devices. Deprecated in 2007.
- Mini-B: as above, this connection is superseded by Micro-B
- Micro-USB: encompassing Micro-AB (a dual-format socket for portable devices; it can tell whether the device is being charged or synced/paired) and various other visually identical connectors, this is the popular choice of Apple, LG, RIM, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola and Nokia among others.
Beyond this there is a range of proprietary connectors such as that used by HTC, HTCExtUSB for connecting Android and Windows Phones.
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Finding Mini USB to Micro USB Adapters
Despite the proliferation of many USB types, adapters are plentiful and low priced. The benefits of such an adapter are cost saving, as well as space saving – with a Micro USB male (B-type) connector combined with a Mini USB female connector, for instance, you can use the same USB cable for Android and BlackBerry phones. (You might pick up an adapter such as this for just a pound.)
For a more flexible option, you might choose an extension cable adapter (pictured) rather than a single connector block. You can convert mini USB type B to micro USB type B with such a cable and again this is with a female connector for mini-B and a male connector at the micro-B end.
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Mini USB to Micro USB Adapter Kit
Rather than spend money on a single adapter block or cable solution, if you have multiple USB devices you might be advised to employ the services of a retractable cable converter kit, offering 10 different adapter types which including some of the proprietary connectors from HTC, Nokia and HP.
These kits are available for around $20 (or £10 in the UK), and the various adapter blocks can be used either with the retractable “master” cable or on their own with your existing USB cables. You can use the adapters for data transfer as well as charging, and while marketed as a solution for mobile phones it can be used for PDAs, cameras and MP3 players. You can find a suitable device by Belkin on Amazon.
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