Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kinds of USB peripherals can I connect to my PC?

    USB carries data at the rate of 12 megabits per second, which is sufficient for "medium to low-speed peripherals." This broad category includes telephones, digital cameras, modems, keyboards, mice, digital joysticks, some CD-ROM drives, tape and floppy drives, digital scanners and specialty printers. USB's data rate also accommodates a whole new generation of peripherals, including MPEG-2 video-base products, data gloves and digitizers. Computer-telephony integration is expected to be a big growth area for PCs, and USB can provide an interface for Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) and digital PBXs.

  • Where can I learn more technical details about USB?

    Technical presentations and other details are available from the USB Implementers Forum on the USB developer's site, as well as directly from USB-IF member companies.

  • Is USB available on mobile computers in addition to desktops?

    USB is currently a key feature on virtually every new notebook. One great advantage of USB is that it allows notebook users to easily share peripherals.

  • How many USB peripherals can I connect at once?

    Technically, you can connect up to 127 individual USB peripherals at one time. Due to the fact that some devices reserve USB bandwidth, the practical maximum of devices is less than the theoretical maximum. However, PCI-USB add-in cards provide an independent USB bus to which even more peripherals can be connected.

  • What do USB plugs and ports look like?

    USB features one "Universal" plug type for all USB peripheral-to-PC connections. The distinctive USB plug looks like this:
    USB plug
    USB sockets

    Above is an example of USB ports found on PCs and on some USB peripherals including keyboards and monitors.

  • What does it mean when a product is USB compliant and why should I care?

    Compliance means products that are called USB products are really built to match the description in the USB specification. This is important to a customer because if all products match the spec perfectly they would by definition work together perfectly. The world is not perfect and so compliance testing exists to help manufacturers measure how well their products match the specification. There are many ways to make sure products work together and many ways to see if they match the specification, but compliance testing is one of the most useful.

    Conscientious manufacturers do a great deal of testing on their own and use compliance test programs like the one sponsored by our organization, USB-IF. If you don't find a product on our product list it does not mean there is anything wrong with that product, but if you do find it there you know that this manufacturer has put in a lot of effort to try to make sure that product matches the USB specification and has the best chance of working.

  • How many USB products are being developed?

    The question is rapidly becoming are there any products that I cannot get with a USB interface. Virtually every category of PC peripheral is using USB for some products. In several categories the volume of USB versions of products exceeds the volume of any other version today.

  • Where can I find out what USB products are currently available...or on the way?

    You've come to the right place! This web site highlights Current USB Products and a list of new products due for release. The products listed here are only our members' products, but there a distinct advantage to you in choosing from these listed products. All of these products have undergone and passed a specific set of testing to help assure that they will function correctly on your computer.

  • Does USB affect the cost of PCs and peripheral devices?

    USB is a built-in feature of most PC chip sets, as well as operating system and other system software, which does not significantly affect PC prices. By eliminating add-in cards and separate power supplies, USB can help make PC peripheral devices more affordable than they otherwise would be. In addition, USB's "hot-swapping" capability allows business users to easily attach and detach peripherals. Device sharing can reduce the cost of ownership of such equipment.

  • Will I need special software to run USB?

    Current operating systems all support USB, operating systems that are no longer supported by their makers may or may not support USB without modifications. Many devices get all of the software support they need from the OS, but there are some that will come with a floppy or CD with specialized drivers for that particular device. Don't worry about getting the right software because the OS's that support USB always know how to determine if anything else is needed and they will help you get the software loaded so the device works correctly. At one time there was some limited support for USB on Windows 95, but that is no longer available.