» USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable: This cable has a flat connector that plugs
in to your PC, known as USB A.
The other end is sometimes shaped like a D (called USB B), but smaller devices have tiny terminators (usually called USB mini and USB micro, each of which can have two different shapes).
USB 2 connectors will work with any device, but hardware — such as a hard drive — that uses USB 3 will run much faster if you use a USB 3 cable and plug it into the back of your computer in a USB 3 port. USB 2 works with USB 3 devices, but you won’t get the speed. Note that not all PCs have USB 3 ports!
USB is the connector of choice for just about any kind of hardware — printer, scanner, phone, camera, portable hard drive, and even the mouse. Apple iPhones and iPads use a USB connector on one side — to plug in to your computers — but the other side is Thunderbolt (common on Apple devices, not so common on Windows PCs), and doesn’t look or act like any other connector.
If you run out of USB connections on the back of your PC, get a USB hub with a separate power supply and plug away.
USB-C is a special kind of USB connection that supports very fast data transmission, and high levels of power. You know when you have USB-C because it’s impossible to insert the plug upside-down — both sides work equally well. It’s becoming the go-to choice for connecting peripherals and, in some cases, power supplies.
» LAN cable: Also known as a CAT-5, CAT-6, or RJ-45 cable, it’s the most common kind of network connector. It looks like an overweight telephone plug (see Figure 1-11). One end plugs in to your PC, typically into a network interface card (or NIC, pronounced “nick”), a network connector on the motherboard. The other end plugs in to your network’s hub (see Figure 1-12) or switch or into a cable modem, DSL box, router, or other Internet connection-sharing device.
RJ-45 Ethernet LAN connector
» Keyboard and mouse cable: Most mice and keyboards (even cordless mice and keyboards) come with USB connectors.
» DVI-D and HDMI connectors: Although older monitors still use legacy, 15-pin, HD15 VGA connectors, most monitors and video cards now use the small HDMI connector (see Figure 1-13), which transmits both audio and video over one cable. Some older monitors don’t support HDMI, but do take a DVI-D digital cable .
If you hope to hook up your new TV to your PC, make sure your PC can connect to the TV with the right kind of cable. Or use Chromecast from your Chrome browser and a Chromecast dongle stuck in your TV — see Book 10, Chapter 2.
HDMI has largely supplanted the old VGA and DVI-D video adapters.
Two different kinds of DVI-D cables — they work well, but
don’t carry audio.
Some really old monitors still use the ancient 15-pin VGA connector, the one shaped like a D. Avoid VGA if you can. Old-fashioned serial (9-pin) and parallel (25-pin) cables and Centronics printer cables are growing as scarce as hen’s teeth. Hey, the hen doesn’t need them, either.
» Bluetooth is a short-distance wireless connection. Once upon a time, Bluetooth was very finicky and hard to set up. Since the recent adoption of solid standards, Bluetooth’s become quite useful.