When everybody’s using USB ports, having a medical computer with a serial port can seem like you’re ten steps behind everyone in the tech world.
That’s not true.
Serial ports are not obsolete. They’re usually used to connect older hospital equipment with new computers. But is that the only reason serial ports are still used today? Let’s find out.
What Are Serial Ports?
A serial port is a connection interface used to join serial devices, such as modems, to a computer. It allows the computer to transfer one bit at a time.
Serial ports were invented in the ‘80s and are the oldest types of interfaces currently being used. They are usually used as communication devices for flat-screen monitors, bar-code scanners, and GPS receivers.
Uses of Serial Ports
Serial ports are used to connect some of the following serial devices:
- Mice, usually on computers without USB or PS/2 connections.
- Modems, such as cable and DSL modems.
- Printers, mostly older models.
- Network devices like switches, webcams, routers, repeaters, bridges, etc.
Serial Ports vs. USB Ports
There are several differences between USB and serial ports, such as:
- Serial ports transfer data at the speed of 1 to 10 Mbps, while USB (Gen 1) ports transfer data at up to 12 Mbps.
- USB ports can provide power, but serial ports cannot.
- Serial ports use fragile pins that are easy to bend or break. In contrast, USB pins are stronger and more difficult to damage.
So, if serial ports are so bad, why are they even used anymore?
Why Do Medical PCs Still Have Serial Ports?
Despite being slow in our modern age, serial ports are used in the medical industry because they are easy to use, do not require custom drivers, and are supported by most operating systems.
Moreover, a lot of the medical equipment currently used in the health care industry features serial ports because of their ease of use and reliability, and the only way to transfer data to legacy tech is through serial ports, making them invaluable.
Serial ports aren’t obsolete or bad. Instead, they are some of the most useful connection ports in the health care industry. They connect medical PCs and serial devices together.
Moreover, they also link legacy devices to computers, allowing the transfer of data that otherwise would’ve gone unused.
So, we should give credit where it’s due, and in the case of serial ports, their efforts have gone unrecognized for too long.