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You are hereHome > Articles > USB 2.0 Hi-Speed vs. USB 2.0 Full Speed

USB 2.0 Hi-Speed vs. USB 2.0 Full Speed

The pictures you take with your digital camera are saved into a memory card, which then have to be transferred to your computer for permanent storage. The computer interface generally used is a USB (Universal Serial Bus) connector, and this is typically listed in the specifications as USB 2.0 Full Speed or USB 2.0 Hi-Speed. They are not the same and one is much better than the other by a factor of 40x. Find out which is better.


The best way to answer this question is to go back and trace the evolution of the USB.

USB 1.0 was designed and introduced by Intel way back in the Windows 98 era, targetting low cost and low speed devices with a transfer rate of 1.5 Mbit/s (megabits per second) or 187.5 KB/s (kilobytes per second).

Next came USB 1.1, which was 8x faster than USB 1.0, with a transfer rate of 1.5-12 Mbit/s.

USB 2.0 is the latest standard with a maximum transfer rate of 480 Mbit/s for the High Speed mode, i.e. 40x faster than USB 1.1. However, some USB 2.0 is certified Full Speed (12 Mbit/s) or Low Speed (1.5 Mbit/s), and so with these ones, we're really back to the same slow USB 1.1 transfer rates.

It is therefore obvious which USB standard consumers would be vying for: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed wins hands down.

The confusion arises because you will not find any digital cameras today with USB 1.1. They all list USB 2.0 -- but some adds "Full Speed" and others lists "Hi-Speed" besides the USB 2.0.

Is there a difference?

You bet!

Only USB 2.0 Hi-Speed devices can claim to operate at the (theoretical, since few can actually reach the maximum) rate of "up to 480 Mbit/s."

If a device lists as simply USB 2.0, you need to read the small prints and verify the transfer rates.

So, if you want the fastest data throughput rate, ensure the digital camera you are considering buying supports USB 2.0 Hi-Speed. If, instead, the specs list USB 2.0 Full Speed or simply USB 2.0 (without specifying the maximum rate of 480 Mbits/s), then it's really using USB 1.1 transfer rates, which is 40x slower than USB 2.0 Hi-Speed.

Another consideration to bear in mind is, of course, which interface your computer is using. If your computer uses a Full Speed hub, then your Hi-Speed digital camera will fall back to the slower data rate of Full Speed when plugged into it.

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Related Links:

- Wikipedia
- Mac Weekly
- Voice
- Ars Technica
- Everything USB







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