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Do USB-C monitors use the USB as a video input?

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Alex Eisenhut:
I've tried reading the various descriptions but it's not clear to me what the USB-C on these monitors does. It makes sense for a laptop to recognize it as a display device, but would the monitor know what to do with a microscope?

I have one of these generic Chinese USB 3.0 microscopes, model H3, not much info available on it, but it has a USB 3 connection.

Can I plug the microscope to a monitor that seems to use UCB-C as an input and see an image?

USB-C connector carries multiple different protocols. In case of the monitor, if it claims to be able to display anything over USB-C, it would be using Thunderbolt for the actual signalling. There is nothing from the classical USB is left in this case for the picture transfer.

Typical camera/microscope presents itself as a audio/video device. There is no way that monitor would display anything or even recognize that device. Cameras need to be connected to a real USB host.

Alex Eisenhut:
Thanks, yeah, something didn't make sense for sure. I guess I'll shop for a microscope with a built-in display or a HDMI output.

There are different ways to send video over a USB-C type connector which is used for one of the variant modes specified to be able to be used with USB C:

Using one of these alternate-mode links for some kind of displayport connection or such as stated in those links is quite common for devices like tablets, laptops, chromebooks, fairly high end smartphones to support in the "video source" role, though certainly other kinds of equipment could use it acting as a typical laptop would as a video generating source device which would then talk to a similarly compatible display sink monitor in the usual way.

Also besides the above alternate mode scheme, some USB linked monitors have a DisplayLink IC or similar USB connected GPU peripheral in them which is a normal USB super-speed or high-speed peripheral IC which serves the functions of a basic GPU / display adapter which can itself generate outputs such as HDMI / DVI / DP / VGA / DVI.  As you may imagine these are very basic GPUs and not high performance such as something you'd see implemented as an IGP, PCIE peripheral, etc.
They tend to need special device drivers on the host computer's OS to make use of the USB-IC-GPU.

Tragically a lot of multi-function USB hubs, USB to HDMI/DVI "adapter" devices, video source devices, even monitors are completely unclear as to what input or output mode / protocol / configuration they actually support simply saying "USB-C" as input/output specifying nothing about the video transport mode / parameters.  So one is totally left to guess whether it is using a USB-GPU or some HDMI alternate mode or DP alternate mode and therefore what
the bit rate / bandwidth / resolution / video standard / device driver / cabling supported / required is.
It is quite a mess and leads to situations like yours where one is wondering "what does this thing do?!"
without any clear documentation.



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