Last updated on May 16, 2021
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It’s used to send high-quality uncompressed digital data. HDMI cables can send video and audio — and not just plain audio but surround sound audio. Most modern TVs and computer monitors have speakers built-in now due to this. No longer do we need to worry about plugging in additional auxiliary cables to carry audio.
Devices that may incorporate HDMI connectivity include:
- HD and Ultra HD TVs, video and PC monitors, and video projectors
- Home theater receivers, home-theater-in-a-box systems, and TV soundbars
- DVD, Blu-ray, and Ultra HD Blu-ray players
- Media streamers (Amazon Fire TV Stick) and network media players
- HD cable and satellite boxes
- DVD recorders and DVD recorder/VCR combos (for playback only)
- Digital cameras such as DSLR, Mirrorless, and sport action cameras (like Gopro)
- Desktop and Laptop PCs
- Game consoles such as Microsoft Xbox or Sony PlayStation
All versions of HDMI are backwards compatible. But as one would expect, the newer versions will have more capabilities.
HDMI 2.1 is the most recent version, which offers 2160p 4K at 120Hz and 4320p 8K at 60Hz. However, this is usually used more by video professional vs. average consumer.
HDMI 2.0 – the most common version – is able to carry 1080p at up to 120Hz rather than 60Hz, and 2160p 4K at a whopping 60Hz. It also incorporates the support for HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range. HDR expands the available color range, which means visible image will appear to be more realistic.
HDMI 1.4 is, as you can guess, an older technology and is able to carry 1080p at 60Hz, and 2160p 4K ultra HD at 30Hz.
Mini or Micro?
Over the years we have seen Mini HDMI used in tablets and DSLR cameras. Similarly, Micro HDMI – an even smaller cable to mini HDMI – has also been used in smartphones and tablets to connect them to displays.
What is HDMI ARC?
If you’ve looked at the back of your brand new 4K TV, or your A/V receiver, or even a soundbar, you probably noticed a little symbol on one of the HDMI inputs that says “ARC” or “HDMI ARC.” HDMI ARC can greatly simplify your audio cabling needs and setup.
ARC stands for Audio Return Channel is a protocol that sits within the HDMI standard. The technology is quite useful and has the potential to simplify your entertainment system starting with controlling all of your audio from a single remote.
To take advantage of HDMI ARC, you’ll need a television and audio processor (AV receiver or soundbar), with matching ARC-enabled HDMI sockets.
With some TVs, HDMI ARC might work automatically. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to grab a remote and tweak a few of your TV settings, including turning off your TV’s built-in speakers and enabling your TV to send audio out to an external speaker or amp.
Using HDMI ARC does not require a new HDMI cable. Any HDMI cable should be able to cope with the requirements.