HDMI ports are easy to use, but the various versions and specifications aren’t always clear and you may miss the opportunity to enjoy a better experience. What exactly is HDMI?
HDMI ports are the mainstay of laptops, TVs, consoles, set-top box as well as soundbars, and many more. But, since there are so many different versions and options, it’s often difficult to understand what the terms, numbers, and specifications are referring to in terms of your experience on the screen.
Let’s begin by defining the basics of HDMI. is HDMI?
HDMI is a shorthand for High Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI can be described as an HD signal that is often used to transfer audio or visual media across devices from one to the next. There are a variety of sizes for HDMI ports, such as mini-HDMI and micro HDMI. But, most of the time the port will be of the standard size.
There are many devices that come with the option of either an output (HDMI out) or an input (HDMI in). The primary difference between the two is that outputs are intended to supply audio and visual signals while input is intended to take them in. For instance, you’d be able to transfer the data via your gaming console (HDMI out) to your monitor or TV (HDMI out).
The port you are using should be labeled. If not then it should be easy to determine which it is, however, you should look up the manual of your device or the website of the manufacturer in case you’re not sure. The cable is usually identical at both ends, so it shouldn’t really matter. As you’ll see in the image from the Xbox Series X, the HDMI out port is clearly labeled as the HDMI out port.
Modern TVs usually feature many HDMI ports. If you own an older TV or a number of other devices, you might have more ports than devices. It is possible to overcome this issue by using the HDMI splitter, or the HDMI switching device.
It is also possible to learn about the distinctions among DisplayPort in addition to HDMI. If you’re looking for a TV with a variety of ports, there are options available in our review of the top Televisions and the best affordable TVs.
What do the various HDMI versions mean?
There is a variety that uses HDMI ports, and this usually differs based on the age of the model you have. It’s also not clear since they’re not labeled and don’t use a color-coding system similar to what USB did before.
The kind of HDMI port is identified by the number following it. To put it into a simpler way the number is essentially translating to the highest resolution video that it is able to support in addition to the speed of refresh.
There are other distinctions, however, it gets complex and will not usually be of any significance to users on average.
Here’s a list of the most important specifications for HDMI versions:
- HDMI 1.0-1.1 1: Up to 1080p @ 60Hz
- HDMI 1.2-1.2a up 100 px at 60Hz
- HDMI 1.3-1.4b with up 40 Hz at 4K
- HDMI 2.0-2.0b up to 4K @ 60Hz
- HDMI 2.1 up as 4K with 120Hz or 8K at 120Hz
The majority of tech devices with HDMI have had at least HDMI 1.4 for several years. If your device is HDMI 1.4 and above, you’ll be able to access 4K-quality content however, not at the top speed of refresh.
Remember that in order to achieve the best resolution and the highest refresh rate the two devices must share an identical HDMI port. For instance, if you own the PS5 (which is capable of delivering 4K resolution at 120Hz using HDMI 2.1) and your TV has HDMI 1.4 which is the minimum, you’ll be able to enjoy the highest resolution possible via HDMI 1.4.
The console can still function however, you won’t have the high-resolution numbers that PlayStation promotes. Learn more details in the tutorial on console combability.
A few TVs also have HDMI ports that are ARC. These are intended for use with soundbars (ARC is a shorthand for ‘Audio Return Channel’) and can be used in lieu of the optical cables. Learn more about them within our HDMI Explainer Article on ARC.
What HDMI port do I have?
If your port isn’t marked on your television, the only way to find out the exact port is through the manual for the device that will either be included in the box or could be located on the website of the manufacturer.
The specifications sheet could be located on the site you purchased the product from. The following example shows it can support 4K at 60Hz, rather than the HDMI version number.
What HDMI cable do I require?
The last thing you’ll require to ensure you get the best resolution from your television is the proper HDMI cable. There are a variety of cables available including the standard HDMI cable, to the new 8K Ultra High-Speed HDMI cable. Do not let the marketing or the name fool you. The most crucial factors to consider are the resolution the cable has, how many Hz it has, and what speeds it is capable of handling.
For instance, if you require 120Hz resolution in 4K the product description for the cable should mention this. It must also have at least 18Gbs in order to keep pace with 4K. Sellers on Amazon typically include these specifications in the description of the item, but if not, you’ll likely locate it on the product’s listing. The basic HDMI cable isn’t enough when you own a premium screen and you want the highest resolution.
The TV you have will probably include the appropriate cable and a lot of other connecting devices such as consoles will also. If you’ve lost this, or don’t have the one you require the cables can be found at the majority of tech stores like Amazon UK, Currys, Argos, and many others.
If you’re interested in learning more about how HDMI cables and require some suggestions, take the time to read our review of the most effective HDMI cables that you can purchase right now.