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USB 2.0 Overview

USB 2.0 Products FAQ

See our full list of USB & USB 2 drives, devices and peripherals.

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USB 2.0 Overview

So what is it?

USB 2.0 stands for Universal Serial Bus 2.0 - based on, and reverse-engineered from, its predecessor USB (now called USB 1.1). USB was designed to solve cross platform device issues - i.e. to allow PC and Mac users to use the same printers, scanners etc. USB was initially designed back in the early 1990's as a fast alternative to Parallel and Serial connectors. The success of USB was astounding it drove down the price of a whole range of peripherals and gave machine access to external devices that previously would only work inside the computer like hard drives and CD writers.

However USB 1.1 was not designed to handle such large amounts of data and a solution was needed - it was fine for printers, scanners and still cameras because only small amounts of data need to be transferred, however it was not really fast enough to run storage or digital video devices. Also with the advent of FireWire it was losing out to a wide market. Hence USB 2.0 was devised - it used the same standard sockets as USB 1.1 but give an incredible increase in speed, while maintaining compatibility with older USB 1.1 devices. As always, in order to take advantage of the new USB 2 devices, consumers must upgrade their machines. You need a USB 2.0 card to use a USB 2 device, we have some available on our USB peripherals page. See below for more information on hardware requirements for USB 2.0.

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Why choose USB 2.0?

USB 2.0 has the maximum theoretical transfer rate of 480Mb/s (although it is dependent upon the power of the computer it is being used with).

USB 2.0 allows you to almost expand the possibilities of what you and your computer can do, by overcoming the space issues related with internal devices.

With USB 2.0 and some software you can import movies on to your computer in minutes as opposed to hours from a digital camcorder.

USB 2 uses a Master / Slave connectivity which, (without going into tech mode) essentially means that the drives are controlled entirely by the computers processor comparing this to FireWire this means that devices are less expensive than their FireWire competitors.

USB 2.0 has been taken up very well, with the majority of new machines coming with the increased functionality - this popularity helps the price go down too.

Use USB 2.0 for your everyday storage, video, CD burning and peripheral needs and you can't go wrong on price - if your using you devices for mission critical tasks, or for work, have a look at FireWire.

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What Hardware / Software do I need to use a USB 2.0 card / Device?

In order to run a USB 2.0 device on your computer you will need to have the following components / specifications. If you are unsure as to your computers details please contact us and we can help you find out! USB 2.0 is standard across computer platforms and devices can run on Macs and PCs.

PC Requirements -

  • Windows 98 / Windows 98 SE / Windows XP / Windows ME
  • Pentium II Processor > 400MHz
  • 64MB Ram (for applications such as CD writing)
  • 1 or More USB 2.0 Ports (see below)
  • If not fitted on a desktop: PCI USB 2.0 Card
  • If not fitted on a laptop: CardBus PCMCIA or Express Card USB 2.0 Card

Mac requirements -

  • Mac OS 10.x
  • PowerPC Processor > 180MHz (recommended G3)
  • 32MB Ram
  • 1 or More USB 2.0 Ports (see below)
  • If not fitted on a desktop: PCI USB 2.0 Card
  • If not fitted on a laptop: CardBus PCMCIA or Express Card USB 2.0 Card

Please note that USB 2.0 uses the system processor for most tasks; therefore the faster your machine is the better that USB 2.0 will perform on some tasks - please ask us for more details.

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My computer doesn't have USB 2.0, how do I get USB 2.0?

That is where we come in! We supply USB 2.0 cards for portable and desktop computers that work on both PC and Mac platforms.

If you have a desktop computer you need a USB 2.0 PCI Card and a PCI slot on your computer. (Please ask us if you are unsure) which gives you 2 USB 2.0 ports. Please follow this link to see our USB 2.0 PCI cards.

If you have a portable computer you need a USB 2.0 CardBus or Express Card - a credit card sized connector that fits into the PCMCIA or Express Card slot on you computer and has 2 USB 2.0 ports to allow you to connect to USB 2.0 devices.

Please follow this link to see our USB 2.0 PCMCIA cards

Both these solutions require little technical knowledge and our technical team can always help you through if you have any problems.

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USB 2.0 Products FAQ?

USB 2.0 Hard drive FAQ

USB 2.0 hard drives vary considerably from manufacturer to manufacturer - in each case they have been optimised for some particular aspect of external storage - the following is designed to help you choose the best drive to suit your needs.

USB 2.0 hard drives are defined by a number of factors, which can be used to judge how suited each hard drive is to certain tasks.

Usually people looking for a USB 2.0 hard drive are looking either to back up their main hard drive / add some extra space for their files and data, or use them for the storage of digital video / audio files / streams.

When working with digital video, data is required to flow from the hard drive in a constant, consistent and fast manner - thus in order to get the best quality and without losing frames you need a good, fast, hard drive.

Each USB 2 hard drive has its speed and performance expressed in terms of the following specifications:

  1. Spin speed: this is measured in RPM and is either 4,200, 5,400 or 7,200 RPM the greater the RPM the faster the drive can send information to the computer or receive it from a digital camera. However the faster the drive the more expensive it will be.
  2. Access time: this is measured in ns (nano seconds) - this plays a smaller role than spin speed but for digital video work it should be considered. The lower the value the better - however this is also linked to the cost.
  3. Sustained transfer rate: this is measured in terms of megabits a second and is of most importance in digital video where data is required to be transferred at a near constant speed - for backing up of data and for extra storage this is less of a problem (see burst transfer rates below) for digital video it is recommended to look for greater than 30Mb/s for back or storage around 20Mb/s is fine.
  4. Burst transfer rate: similar to sustained rate, also measured in Mb/s, this is how a measure or how fast the drive can send smaller packets of information down the USB 2 cable - this factor is not as important in digital video as video requires a sustained rather than burst transfer. For storage or backup needs aim for the fastest possible speed - up to 300Mb/s.

Here at Second Chance PC we supply a number of different brands of USB 2 hard drive.

The other way of getting a USB 2.0 hard drive is to get a USB 2 hard drive enclosure and put a standard IDE or SATA internal hard drive inside it, more details can be found in our USB 2 and FireWire Enclosure FAQ.

Follow this link to see our full range of USB and USB 2.0 products.

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USB 2.0 CD Writer FAQ

CD writers are differentiated by the speed at which they write data on to the recordable CD. The faster the drive the greater the cost. But just how fast is fast?

A typical drive speed could read 52x32x52x. These numbers indicate the speeds at which the CD writer writes, rewrites and reads CDs. The greater the numbers the faster the drive and the less time it takes to burn a CD.

As an example a 24x10x40 CD writer will take around 3.5 minutes to burn a CD, a 52x24x52 CD writer takes well under 2 minutes. When purchasing a CD drive it is worth thinking about how often you would use it and whether the extra money is worth the extra speed to you. Obviously if you are writing many CDs per day the extra minute can make a lot of difference. If you need any other advice concerning CD writers please contact us.

Another thing worth thinking about is Burnproof technology. What burnproof does is prevent buffer under run (basically when a disk fails to burn) - so that a constant stream of data is maintained to the CD drive. This facility is present on our EZQuest range and is absent from the QPS range - this is reflected in the difference in price. This is once again a feature that would be worth more to you if a large volume of CDs need to be burnt.

Follow this link to see our full range of USB and USB 2.0 products.

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what's a DVD-R and DVD-RW USB 2.0 device?

A USB 2.0 DVD-R or DVD-RW drive enables you to record digital information to a DVD disc in one of two ways. Either as data (which can store up to 4.7GB of information on a single disk - up to 8 CD's worth!) or as DVD format. This facility can enable you to import digital video from a camcorder via USB 2.0, then record your movies to a DVD that you can send to your colleagues/friends etc - which they can play in a standard DVD player!. This has opened up the DVD market to home and business user alike without the expensive production costs normally associated with DVD. With the right software; designers, photographers and the general public can produce DVD slide shows for presentations, reports or even as a CV.

DVD storage is becoming a much bigger technology as the need for storage keeps growing. On a DVD you can store up to 2 hours or perfect video or 8 CD's worth or audio data. The cost of this technology is still quite high but has dropped by half in the last 6 months making it much more accessible for the general public.

There are two types of DVD writer - a DVD-R (writer) and a DVD-RW (rewriter) - the difference between the two is that the RW model will let you write over disks that you have already used - a good way of reducing costs on media. A DVD-RW is more expensive than a DVD-R - and often come as a combination drive combined with a CD writer. For any more information please contact us.

Follow this link to see our full range of USB and USB 2.0 products.

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