Beyond the five metre limitation of USB
The invention of the USB standard over 20 years ago has changed the way we store and share information, and connect to our systems and networks. The standard has made it easy to connect peripheral devices to our networks and systems.
New technology and smarter devices mean that we now connect security cameras, keyboards, microphones, interactive whiteboards and all manner of devices to our networks over a single USB standard that is universally recognised. The only speed bump this technology has faced is that the longer the USB cable, the lower quality the signal. USB is severely limited by distance. In fact, five metres for USB 2.0 and three metres for USB 3.0.
When you need to connect a security camera to the control room, a teacher’s computer to an interactive white board, or a digital signage server to multiple displays; five metres is suddenly a very restrictive measurement.
It’s not always feasible (or possible) to have the computer host in the same location as the input device. In these circumstances, USB extenders are ideal for connecting devices to the host over longer distances.
Following are some factors to consider when you need to extend your USB devices:
- Look for an extender that is robust and is proven reliable for your application. Trial and error is not fun when you have a critical deadline or application.
- Not every network is the same and not every distance requirement is the same. Good extension technology will work perfectly up to 500 metres over category cable, 10 kilometres over fibre on USB 2.0, or 100 metres over fibre for USB 3.0 devices.
- The USB extender should work with multiple communication protocols (Ethernet, Wi-Fi) and media (CatX, fibre, wireless, power line, and DisplayPort®).
- Look for an extender that is Plug-and-Play. This is ideal for streamlining installs and software updates.
- For greater network flexibility, an extender that supports all USB modes and any USB-IF compliant device on Windows®, Mac OS X®, and Linux® is ideal.
By using these five factors as a guide, you are sure to find a good quality, robust USB extension device that will extend your network reliably.