Why doesn't my laptop have USB 3.0?

USB 3.0 is so long overdue that it almost seems like a conspiracy. But it's past the point of trying to figure out what took everyone so long. USB 2.0 is just not practical anymore for many devices.

Why doesn't my laptop have USB 3.0?. I've been asking myself that question a lot lately.

It's 2011.  That should be a USB 3.0 port on the 2010 MacBook Air. But it's not necessarily Apple's fault.  All laptops should have had that 10-year-old USB 2.0 port updated years ago.
It's 2011. That should be a USB 3.0 port on the 2010 MacBook Air. But it's not necessarily Apple's fault. All laptops should have had that 10-year-old USB 2.0 port updated years ago. Apple

None of my laptops has a USB 3.0 port. Not my 2010 MacBook Air, not my prior-generation Air, nor my Dell laptop. Nor do the laptops purchased recently by my business acquaintances, who typically buy earlier models that have been price-reduced.

Let me be clear, I've talked to Intel, folks at the USB Implementers Forum, PC makers, and analysts. And I've heard every reason under the sun as to why the Universal Serial Bus interface hasn't been upgraded in 10 years. (Intel: We'll get around to it in 2012.)

But those reasons (including: it won't make any material difference for things like printers...not supported in Intel silicon) don't change the fact that devices I use demand a faster USB interface. Now. Or I should say yesterday: I needed it a long time ago.

Thunderbolt, as promising as it sounds , does nothing for consumers today.

Here are just a couple of examples. The Seagate GoFlex external drive, which I purchased this week, prominently advertises USB 3.0 capability on its packaging. As it should. Doing regular transfers of 70 gigabytes (or more) of data demands more than USB 2.0.

But that's not possible, because there's no support on the laptop side.

Here's another. My Kodak Z980 camera takes HD videos that generate very large data files. But transfers still trickle across USB 2.0.

Intel did a disservice by not implementing this capability in its chipsets (silicon that supports the processor) sooner. Without support from Intel--whose chips power most of the world's PCs--device makers have had no incentive to add USB 3.0 capability.

And hats off to Advanced Micro Devices for implementing USB 3.0 in its chips .

Yes, more high-end laptops this year are finally getting 3.0, but my point, again, is that this should have happened years ago. If it had, USB 3.0 would be in virtually all laptops today, and device makers would have jumped on the USB 3.0 bandwagon a long time ago.

Now the wait begins all over again for wider Thunderbolt support beyond Apple.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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