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What is HDMI? Everything you need to know about the connector

Confused by the term HDMI? Not sure what HDMI cable you need for your new TV? We’ve got you covered.

Keep reading to learn more about what HDMI actually is, how it works and which household devices you’ll need a cable for.

What is HDMI?

HDMI stands for High-Definition Multimedia Interface and transmits video and/or audio data from an HDMI source device to a compatible device. 

The most common use of HDMI is to display video onto an external device, so in this instance the HDMI source device could be a DVD player or laptop and the compatible device could be a TV or monitor.

HDMI was developed back in 2002 as a way to improve connectivity standards by allowing more data to be transmitted between sources and devices and to cope with the demands of high-definition content. HDMI has since been widely adopted by the vast majority of TV, computer and audio devices, although it has evolved since.

What are the different HDMI connectors?

There are four primary HDMI connector types that correspond to different HDMI cable types. The connectors are: Standard, Mini, Micro and Automotive. 

The Standard connector allows you to connect devices such as gaming consoles or Blu-ray players to monitors or TVs.

The Mini connector is quite a specific connector as it works on smaller devices such as tablets and DSLR cameras. The other end of the cable will usually feature a standard connector so it can be used to plug the device with a monitor or video projector.

The Micro connector is used on even smaller portable devices, including smartphones and digital cameras and works in the same way as the Mini connector.

Finally, there’s the Automotive connector which is used for industrial and automotive applications.

What do HDMI ports look like?

There are myriad devices that have HDMI connectors, but it’s not always easy to spot where these are. On most TVs, the HDMI port will be around the back of the device, with the shape of the HDMI port looking like a trapezium with opposing slot sides of unequal length.

back side of denon amplifier system showing connections from power to Hdmi

TVs label ports, so you can look out for the small stickers that will indicate which port is for HDMI.

And while smaller devices, such as tablets or phones, likely won’t have a label for the HDMI ports, you should be able to distinguish them from the peculiar shape, as the Standard, Mini and Micro all stick to the same trapezium shape with opposing sides.

What is the latest version of HDMI?

Launched back in 2017, although has been updated more recently in 2023, the latest version of HDMI is HDMI 2.1. HDMI 2.1 adds support for higher resolutions and refresh rates, including up to 8K and 60Hz. 

This is especially worth noting if you’re an avid gamer as the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X are both compatible with HDMI 2.1 and the new Ultra High Speed HDMI cable. This means you can experience higher resolution and smoother gameplay.

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