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OESF Portables Forum > Model Specific Forums > Cosmo Communicator > Cosmo Communicator - Hardware
Tom D
My biggest hope is that there is an improvement in the functionality of the USB-C ports. I have the USB-C hub, and you can choose to either charge through it (making the hub unnecessary), or use it as a hub without charging. I am using the Gemini with a Sentio SuperBook which only supports USB-on-the-go video (no HDMI input), so this means I can only use the Gemini with it on Battery Mode. It would be REALLY nice if one of the ports was a full USB-C port that supported true HDMI out, USB peripherals and charging, like most laptop USB-C ports do - e.g., Macbook. That might be too much to ask, so any improvement in the USB-C ports would be appreciated.
Update #8 did mention that both USB-C ports would be able to charge (whereas the Gemini will only charge on the left hand side) but not yet seen any acknowledgement of the Cosmo ports being USB Power Delivery compatible. The Gemini USB hub does support USB Power passthrough making it rather frustrating that the Gemini itself doesn't. Being able to use the HDMI output of a standard/generic USB-C hub would be nice but not sure this will happen, the statements that the Gemini HDMI adapter will work with the Cosmo suggests not. The lack of exFAT support in Android can be a bit awkward but I suspect Planet won't be able to afford the cost of licensing the exFAT driver from Microsoft. I get around by booting into Linux when I need to access an exFAT formatted drive.

As a side note the Gemini will charge from a USB-C charger if you plug it in whilst it is switched off but it won't pull more than 500mA@5V so even switched off it will charge very slowly. It will continue to charge if you turn it on but I doubt that 500mA would be enough to charge the Gemini as well as run it.
Tom D
I was very happy to hear that both ports can charge. I already have an HDMI adapter from the Gemini I can use, so I can now charge and output HDMI. This now lets me "dock" the Communicator at home, which is nice.
Don't get me wrong. Charging through both ports is going to be way easier when connecting it up for the night on the bedside table. No longer will we have to figure out which side the hinge is on, orient the device then make sure we're plugging into the left hand side.

However, I'm still a bit concerned as to whether they have taken on and fixed the Gemini's face palm USB C issue.

Right port is able to:
-USB C direct to device - cannot run a hub - not good to charge through (no fast charging).
-HDMI adapter for external monitor

Left port is able to:
-Fast Charge via the included USB C power adapter
-USB C hub to devices (Keyboard, mouse)

The problem is that the left port is an OR. Despite the Planet Computers hub having a USB C power inlet on the hub - that power is only usable by the client devices connected to the hub. It is incapable of charging or powering the Gemini back through the hub. So, with the two ports and their caveats it winds up being a case of:

Gemini Pick Two Conundrum:
-supply power to the Gemini
-connect keyboard & mouse
-connect to an external monitor

To operate as a 'desktop replacement', the Cosmo is going to have to do (at minimum) those three things - at the same time.
In addition to that:
Only the left side USB port of the Gemini is USB3 (and still slow). According to benchmarks the right side port is USB2 only. Both ports of the Cosmo should be USB3, well and faster than the left side port of the Gemini.
At least for me, also the right side of the Gemini supports the hub.
At press release picture there is no adapter like Gemini had, so is it.....
QUOTE(maki.jouni @ Aug 23 2019, 09:11 PM) *
At press release picture there is no adapter like Gemini had, so is it.....

But in their store it says the adapter is compatible with the Cosmo though...
James Shields
Got to say it would be really nice if we could have a USB hub connected to mouse, keyboard, monitor, external storage, and possibly wired ethernet. We could then connect one USB-C to be attached to everything. If we could receive power through the same USB-C that would definitely be a bonus.

This is definitely within the capabilities of USB-C. My girlfriend can connect her MacBook to an EGPU box that's connected to external monitor, keyboard, mouse and provides accelerated graphics. Her MacBook is a little old, so she's using a Thunderbolt 2 to Thunderbolt 3 (USB-C) converter, which doesn't support charging. However, at some point she'll get a new MacBook, which will give USB-C charging through the same port.

The Cosmo may not be quite it, but at some point I could definitely see a Gemini/Cosmo sized device offered as a true desktop replacement, and for that to be accepted, connecting a single connector to convert to desktop mode would definitely make it a lot more appealing.

One minor point, but for this to be mainstream and not a nice enthusiast device, we need to get away from quirks like you must charge from the left port and you can only connect the monitor to the right one. For it to be mainstream, it needs to take the approach, "if the connector fits, it will work".
Daniel W
While I agree with "if it fits, it should work", I am afraid USB 2/3/3.1/3.2/4/... type C, is a [set of] standard[s], where that, quite often, just won't be true.

Special connectors historically increased the chance of "if it DOES fit, it might work", though, given all the ways DB-25 RS-232 or SCART cables could be wired, or not, it was still plug-and-pray. USB type A and B, mini, micro etc. tended to reverse the issue, "it WOULD have worked, had only the connectors been the same size". So, USB-C to the rescue? Well, for the "Universal Serial Bus" itself, sort of. If the connector fits, some USB data transfer is likely to happen. But the ALT modes, such as HDMI, DisplayPort or Thunderbolt, may or may not work, depending on which optional wires and/or chips happens to be present or not in the cable, which may or may not be marked to indicate such presence and/or absence. And even when USB-C works, it may not work well. I have a slim Apple brand USB-C cable, meant to be a laptop power cord, so while it handles 100W Power Delivery, it only supports USB 2.0 data speeds, but it doesn't SAY that anywhere, nor does any device. It just works, but quite slowly. A USB-C cable may have a chip, telling how much power it handles, but humans can only guess. A cable that charges a phone just fine, may not charge a laptop at all.

Everything, thus far, has presumed everybody sticks to the USB standards and the USB standards only... but they're not even trying. The official ALT mode for HDMI over USB-C, requires certain chips in the cable, but Planet Computers chose to achieve the same end result via other means, requiring THEIR adapter cable. My Apple USB-C Power Delivery AC brick is MARKED with 20.3V 3A / 9V 3A / 5V 2.4A and happily gives 60W to my Dell laptop, but won't even begin charging my Gemini. Unless the device asks for 9V, the brick doesn't seem to care. The Gemini CAN ask for 9V, but only according to the MediaTek PumpExpress standard, not USB Power Delivery. My Dell USB-C docking station can deliver a 130W to the laptop, once a secret handskake has enabled its non-standard 19.5V 6.7A mode. When I plug my Gemini in, it sees the MIDI keyboard plugged into the USB hub of the docking station, but power? Nope! In spite of ONLY being marked 19.5V, it will give 9V to my Samsung phone.

I've heard of about seven different fast charging "standards", several of which comes in multiple versions. So, when things gets messy, I don't think we can ONLY blame Planet Computers, because USB type C is already, by specification, quite messy. And then third parties adds to that...
Too true, the USB-C connector has been a great success in reducing the number of different connectors we have to manage but there are so many different variations that it is impossible to assume it will work even if the connector fits. This is as true for laptops and desktops as it is for phones, tablets and the Gemini/Cosmo.

Asking about the USB PD support I received the message that Cosmo should support Power Delivery but it can't be confirmed until launch. So very hopefully Cosmo will cover this last Gemini shortfall...
James Shields
Okay, I take your point, I wouldn't expect ANY USB-C device to work with the Cosmo. For example, I'm not sure we can ever expect a EGPU to be compatible. I was more thinking of if a supported device fits the connector it should work. Users shouldn't be expected to remember that certain things must be connected to the left port, while others will only be accepted by the right port.
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