PoweredUSB Port
PoweredUSB Port

When it comes to USB ports, most of us are familiar with the standard types we use daily for charging and data transfer. However, a recent Reddit post in the r/pchelp subreddit unveiled a less common but intriguing type of USB port: the PoweredUSB, also known as “USB PlusPower.” This unique port, often seen in older IBM computers used in retail settings like cash registers, is a fascinating example of how technology adapts to specific industry needs.

What is PoweredUSB?

PoweredUSB was developed by a consortium of retail equipment manufacturers, including giants like IBM and NCR. Its primary purpose was to standardize power connections for retail peripherals such as touch screen monitors, barcode scanners, credit card readers, and receipt printers. This technology allows these devices to be powered directly by the PC, eliminating the need for separate external power supplies.

The Technical Specifics of PoweredUSB

This particular USB variant is designed to supply different voltages, with the most common being 12 volts and 24 volts. The Reddit post specifically mentions a 12-volt PoweredUSB port. This versatility in voltage makes PoweredUSB an ideal solution for various retail peripherals, each with its own power requirements.

PoweredUSB in Retail Environments

In retail environments, space and power outlets are often at a premium. PoweredUSB addresses this by reducing the number of power adapters and cables needed. Devices like cash drawers, card scanners, or keyboards in a point-of-sale system can all be powered through a single connection to the main computer. This not only simplifies the setup but also enhances reliability and reduces clutter.

IBM’s Role in PoweredUSB Development

IBM’s involvement in the development of PoweredUSB is particularly noteworthy. The original design was a joint effort between IBM and FCI/Berg, specifically tailored for IBM’s retail point-of-sale terminals. This collaboration highlights how industry-specific needs can drive technological innovation.

The Uniqueness of PoweredUSB

What sets PoweredUSB apart from standard USB ports is its ability to provide higher voltages. This capability is crucial for powering more demanding retail peripherals. The design of PoweredUSB, while proprietary to IBM, showcases the adaptability of USB technology to meet specialized requirements.

PoweredUSB vs. Standard USB

Comparing PoweredUSB to standard USB-A ports, the key difference lies in the power delivery. While standard USB ports are limited in the amount of power they can supply, PoweredUSB can deliver significantly more, making it suitable for a broader range of applications.

The Future of PoweredUSB

As technology evolves, the prevalence of PoweredUSB in newer systems may decrease. However, its presence in older systems, especially in the retail sector, ensures it remains a relevant topic for tech enthusiasts and professionals alike.

FAQs About PoweredUSB

  1. What is PoweredUSB used for? PoweredUSB is primarily used in retail environments to power peripherals like touch screen monitors, barcode scanners, and receipt printers directly from a PC.
  2. How does PoweredUSB differ from standard USB ports? The main difference is in the power delivery capability. PoweredUSB can supply higher voltages, such as 12 or 24 volts, unlike standard USB ports.
  3. Who developed PoweredUSB? PoweredUSB was developed by a consortium of retail equipment manufacturers, including IBM and NCR.
  4. Can PoweredUSB be used in non-retail environments? While it’s designed for retail peripherals, PoweredUSB can technically be used in any environment where its specific power delivery capabilities are needed.
  5. Is PoweredUSB compatible with standard USB devices? PoweredUSB ports are not compatible with standard USB devices due to their different power delivery specifications.
  6. What voltages can PoweredUSB supply? Commonly, PoweredUSB ports supply 12 or 24 volts, but other variations may exist.
  7. Do modern computers have PoweredUSB ports? PoweredUSB is less common in modern computers and is primarily found in older systems, especially those used in retail settings.
  8. Why was PoweredUSB developed? It was developed to standardize and simplify the power connections for various retail peripherals, reducing the need for multiple power adapters.
  9. Is PoweredUSB still relevant today? While newer technologies are emerging, PoweredUSB remains relevant in older retail systems and for those who work with legacy equipment.
  10. Can PoweredUSB charge devices faster than standard USB? The primary purpose of PoweredUSB is not faster charging but to provide higher power for operating retail peripherals, which standard USB ports cannot supply.

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