If you’re in the market for a monitor, you must consider a wide range of factors.
The connection ports may not be as important as resolution or price, but they must be on top of your priority list.
Connection ports are essential because we rarely use our monitors as standalone devices.
With the expansion of digital technology in our lives, we may need to connect many devices to our monitors.
One of these connection types is the HDMI port, which has been around for a long time, offering a reliable and convenient connection.
Do you need to consider HDMI ports when choosing a monitor, or do they come as standard equipment?
Do All Monitors Have HDMI?
Most, if not all, modern monitors feature HDMI ports because it’s an industry standard commonly used in many devices.
They’re so common that some monitors come with more than one HDMI port to give users more flexibility in connecting devices.
You can easily check the back of your monitor to see the number of its HDMI ports.
Some monitors may have the HDMI port on the side of the panel to allow for better access.
If you want to buy a new monitor and aren’t sure about its HDMI ports, you can check its specs sheet or visit the manufacturer’s website.
Why Are HDMI Connections So Common?
HDMI connections are so practical that they have become a determining factor when purchasing display devices.
Without HDMI, it isn’t easy to connect smart devices and displays because of the following advantages that other connections can’t provide.
1. Dual Functions
Before HDMI came along, the connection types could only transmit one type of signal: audio or video.
As a result, you needed two cables and ports for each signal.
HDMI solved this issue by transferring audio and video signals through one cable, helping declutter workspaces and simplify things.
Not only can HDMI transfer dual signals, but it also does it without compromising quality.
Thanks to its digital technology, the audio and video signals are transferred as ones and zeros instead of physical waves.
As a result, there’s little to no signal loss during data transfer, allowing you to get high-resolution audio and video.
Even if there’s a signal loss, the receiving device can compensate for it thanks to its technology.
Newer generations of HDMI cables can transfer 8K and even 3D video and uncompressed digital audio in addition to Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD.
That’s an excellent advantage for those who watch their movies on Ultra HD displays and want the highest video and audio fidelity.
HDMI cables allow you to connect any smart device to a display.
That means you can even project the contents of your smartphone or tablet on your HDTV.
This versatility allows you to use only one cable to connect many devices without worrying about quality loss.
You may be able to replace HDMI connectivity with wireless connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi.
Not every TV has wireless connectivity, while almost all modern TVs made after 2014 have HDMI ports.
New models of HDMI ports can transfer ethernet signals, making them even more versatile.
4. Backward Compatibility
Since the introduction of HDMI in 2002, several versions have emerged and offered higher resolutions and better features than previous ones.
Each port requires a matching cable to deliver the highest quality promised.
However, they’re all backward compatible, and you can plug a lower version cable into a higher version port as long as you don’t mind the quality loss.
In addition, HDMI ports are future-proof, meaning they have enough spare bandwidth to cover future technology.
HDMI is even compatible with DVI, so you can use an HDMI-to-DVI adapter if one of your devices only has DVI and the other only has HDMI.
One of the initial purposes of HDMI was to protect digital content from unauthorized copying.
HDMI uses a data protection protocol called High-bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP).
Both HDMI-connected devices must comply with HDCP, recognizing and authorizing each other as the sender and receiver of signals.
After recognizing the receiver as a non-recording device and complying with HDCP, the sender will encrypt data to transfer via the HDMI cables.
This way, no one can eavesdrop or copy the content transmitted via HDMI.
What About The Disadvantages?
Now that HDMI ports are so useful that no manufacturer can ignore them, does it mean they don’t have any disadvantages that make them less favorable than their competitors?
Of course, they do.
One of the biggest drawbacks of HDMI connectivity is cable limitations.
Cable length can affect the transfer rate, so each category of HDMI cables has a maximum allowed length.
Although this limitation may not be much of a concern in PC connections since your devices are close to each other, they can cause issues in home theater setups.
In addition, the type of cable you use can affect your picture quality because it has to match your port version.
This can add to the confusion and make your decision-making less straightforward.
Finally, since the two devices have to authenticate each other, it can take time and introduce delays in connection.
What Other Ports Can You Find On A Monitor?
HDMI isn’t the only port that you can find on a monitor.
If you look at the back of your device, you can see different ports, allowing you to connect your device to a wide range of other devices simultaneously.
Even if your display is the latest model, you may need to connect it to an older device with less common connection types.
The manufacturer may give you the freedom to choose between connection ports.
Depending on your device, you may find any of the following ports.
Video Graphics Array is the oldest connection type that sends analog signals.
You can guess how it can affect your experience in today’s all-digital world.
You may not see this port on modern monitors because it’s a legacy standard replaced by newer technologies.
Plus, it only transfers video signals at lower resolutions of up to 1024×768.
That’s why it doesn’t suit modern monitors’ HD or Ultra HD qualities.
Still, you may see it on newer devices if the manufacturer wants to give you a wide range of connection ports.
Although it has different versions, the most common VGA port has a trapezoid shape with 15 pins arranged in three rows.
It has two small holes on either side to accept the screw pins on the cable for a tighter connection.
With the demand for high-definition signals, Digital Visual Interface technology emerged.
Unlike VGA, it uses digital signals to transmit video.
These ports can support picture qualities of 144Hz at 1080p, although there are different versions of the port.
The DVI-A version can only transfer analog signals, while the DVI-D port can transfer digital signals.
It has single-link and dual-link formats, with the latter being faster and of higher quality.
If your monitor has a DVI port and you want to connect it to an older device with only DVI ports, you should know the version on both devices because it determines the type of cable you should buy.
It can be comparable to HDMI in many respects, including 1080p and 1440p resolution, making it perfect for gaming.
The only difference is that it doesn’t support audio.
The biggest HDMI competitor is Intel’s DisplayPort offering similar advantages.
It can deliver HD and Ultra HD video while supporting the HDCP protocol.
Even the ports look similar, both having the same D-shaped look.
The only difference is that HDMI ports have 19 pins while DisplayPort has 20 pins.
Although they’re similar, their differences can make them suitable for different purposes (more on that later in the article).
The latest technology in connection ports is the USB, which is popular because of its wide range of uses.
In addition to data transfer, USB ports are the main charging ports for wireless devices, making them a great option to reduce the number of cables for data and video transmission.
USB-C ports are replacing HDMI and DisplayPort connections, especially in computer monitors, since many computer peripherals have USB connections.
Different HDMI versions have been introduced since 2002.
Knowing the differences between these versions may not be necessary if you only want to connect your laptop to your monitor, watch your movies, or read your files on a bigger screen.
However, if you’re a gamer or want to get the most out of your HDTV, you need to know what version of HDMI port you have.
As mentioned, all HDMI versions are backward compatible, so you shouldn’t have any problems connecting devices with different HDMI versions.
However, according to the weakest link principle, you can only get the features supported by the older version.
If your devices are new, there’s a high chance that you have the latest HDMI version on all of them.
The primary difference between HDMI versions is the speed at which the ports and cables transmit signals.
This quality will affect your display’s resolution and transfer rates, affecting your experience.
Below are the oldest and latest HDMI versions and the resolutions they support:
- HDMI 1.0 and 1.1: a resolution of 720p to 1080p and refresh rates of up to 60Hz.
- HDMI 1.2 and 1.2a: 720p at 120Hz up to 1080p at 60Hz.
- HDMI 1.3 to 1.4b: from 1080p at 120Hz to 4K at 30Hz.
- HDMI 2.0 to 2.0b: from 1080p at 240Hz to 4K at 30Hz. Different versions of HDMI 2.0 support HDR and HLG HDR videos.
- HDMI 2.1: 4K at 120Hz and 8K at 60Hz.
Most displays produced over the past few years have at least HDMI 1.4 ports, so you can have 4K videos.
The difference is the refresh rate, though.
The only way to tell which HDMI is on your device is to look at the specs sheet.
You can also check the manufacturer’s website to make sure you choose the right cable and connect it to a matching device.
You may also see your monitor’s HDMI port labeled ARC.
Most HDMI 2.0 ports come with this added capability to reduce the number of cables used for connecting devices.
Audio Return Channel allows your device to simultaneously act as an input and output device.
HDMI ports don’t work in two ways, meaning they can be either input or output.
However, you can have this two-way communication for audio signals with ARC and eARC ports.
HDMI Vs. DisplayPort: Which One Should I Use?
As mentioned above, HDMI and DisplayPort are the two most common connection ports on today’s monitors.
You can’t find a new monitor or TV without these two ports.
If you have the chance to use both of them, you may wonder which one can give you better-quality pictures.
The answer will depend on what you plan to do on your monitor.
If you want your display for home and consumer use, like watching TV or setting up a home theater, you may have a better chance with HDMI.
The reason is that some consumer products don’t support DisplayPort, whereas HDMI is more common and found on almost every device.
On the other hand, DisplayPort is better for gaming and other PC-related projects that require multiple screens.
While you can use HDMI connections for multiple screen setups, DisplayPort is more reliable and offers a tear-free output.
In addition, since DisplayPort supports higher bandwidths with gaming monitors, you can have a better gaming experience with it.
HDMI Adapters And Splitters
Suppose you have an old monitor that doesn’t have an HDMI port, but you need to connect it to your laptop to get a bigger screen.
If your monitor doesn’t have an HDMI port, it’s an old one with VGA or DVI connectivity.
Fortunately, you can use adapters that convert connectivity types.
They include VGA to HDMI and DVI to HDMI adapters.
You can also extend the number of HDMI ports on your monitor using HDMI splitters.
They connect to your HDMI port and give you several ports to connect your monitor to different devices.
You can find adapters that support HD content to make the most out of your devices.
If your device has a USB-C port and you want to connect it to a monitor with HDMI ports, you can use the HDMI ALT Mode USB Type-C.
It’s a new standard offered by HDMI Licensing.
It eliminates the need for adapters, allowing you to directly connect your smartphones or other devices with USB-C ports to your monitors.
You can even find DisplayPort to HDMI adapters, so you shouldn’t have issues connecting your devices.