HDMI ports and cables are now everywhere, thanks to their high-quality signal transmission and, more importantly, their ability to send audio and video signals together.
They allow you to set up any home theater system or connect several devices without requiring two different cables.
That’s why they’ve replaced VGA or RGB cables, and there’s virtually no device that doesn’t come with an HDMI port.
Laptops are one of the many devices that feature HDMI ports, allowing you to connect to different devices and share audio and video.
While it’s not that common, you may need to use your laptop as a secondary screen to import video and audio.
You may wonder if your laptop has an HDMI input.
Does My Laptop Have An HDMI Input? (How To Check)
You can find out if your laptop has an HDMI input by checking the sides of the laptop that house other ports.
You can find HDMI input and output ports built into the panel next to each other.
In addition, the product specifications on the laptop’s user manual and website can indicate if it has an HDMI input port.
An HDMI input isn’t a usual feature on laptops because people don’t normally use them as a secondary screen to get video from other devices.
As a result, manufacturers don’t include them in their designs because they’re costly and can add to the purchase price of the laptop.
However, you may find some older laptops, especially those made by Alienware, featuring an HDMI input port.
HDMI Ports In Laptops
As mentioned, HDMI ports are found on most display and input devices since they make transferring audio and video super easy.
HDMI has made setting up home theaters hassle-free because it’s a two-in-one cable that eliminates the need for separate cables and connections for audio and video.
Laptops aren’t an exception.
You can’t find a modern laptop without an HDMI port since it’s essential for broadcasting laptop images and audio onto displays and monitors.
However, these HDMI ports on laptops are almost always HDMI outputs, not inputs.
Here are the main reasons that you don’t find HDMI inputs on laptops:
1. Laptop Design And Purpose
Laptops are supposed to be source devices that generate the data or play video, and you project their images and video to larger screens like a TV or monitor.
It’s not the other way round since users don’t normally use their laptop screens as receiving devices to display images produced by other devices.
As a result, only an HDMI output will suffice.
However, it doesn’t mean you can’t technically have an HDMI input on your laptop.
The thing is that it’s not necessary.
If manufacturers decided to include an HDMI input in their laptops, they would have to go through a lengthy and expensive design process, adding to the final price of the laptop.
Therefore, even if you can find a laptop with an HDMI input, it will be more expensive than others due to its exotic feature.
2. HDMI Design
One of the theories that online users put forth is that an HDMI port can handle both input and output.
Depending on the purpose, it doesn’t matter which port we use.
We can determine whether to use the laptop as an input or an output device.
However, HDMI ports don’t work like that.
As we saw earlier, HDMI ports on the output device encode the digital signals to be carried over the twisted pair wires, and the ports on the input device decode them to be fed into the device.
They’re hardwired and designed to do one of these tasks and can’t work the other way round.
If you want HDMI inputs and outputs, you need to have different ports since their designs are different.
You can see HDMI IN and OUT labels on many devices that can serve as input and output.
If your laptop has an HDMI input port, it must be labeled as such.
In addition, some users suggest turning your laptop’s HDMI output port into an input port using a special adaptor.
However, there are no such adaptors, and you can’t change a port designed to send out signals to receive signals.
What Laptops Have HDMI Input Ports?
As mentioned earlier, it’s not impossible to have HDMI input ports on a laptop, but it’s not usual.
If the manufacturer decides to add the required circuitry to add this feature, you can see the port as HDMI-in next to HDMI-out on the side of your laptop next to other ports.
You can also check your laptop’s specifications in the user’s manual or the manufacturer’s website and look for HDMI-in ports.
Still, several Alienware laptops feature these ports.
However, all of these models are old and discontinued.
You may want to look for other ways to use your laptop as a display device.
The only case you don’t see these labels—even though it’s both output and input—is when the device has the HDMI ARC type.
Audio Return Channel (ARC) HDMI ports came out with HDMI 1.4, allowing a device to act as an input and output, sending and receiving signals.
The main purpose of ARC ports and cables is to reduce the cables required to connect two devices.
However, as the name suggests, an ARC cable is mostly used for transferring audio between two devices.
For example, when you connect an AV receiver to a soundbar system via an HDMI cable, you can send video and audio from the receiver to the soundbar.
The TV can get video from the AV receiver and send the audio to the same device.
As a result, you don’t need two different cables for sending and receiving these audio and video signals to and from the TV.
However, you can’t find an ARC HDMI port on a laptop since it’s only used for audio, and there’s no point in including these ports in a laptop.
How To Use Your Laptop As An Input Device
If you want to use your laptop’s monitor as an input device to receive video and audio from another device, you can’t use an HDMI port.
Most HDMI ports on laptops are output, and you can’t use them both ways.
However, you can use other workarounds to receive audio and video signals through your laptop.
Here are the best ones:
1. Capture Card
The most common workaround is a capture card, although these devices are expensive, and you can get a 4K TV at the same price.
However, you may go for a gadget like a capture card instead of a 4K TV if you have space limitations or need to record videos while game streaming.
A capture card is a gadget that connects to the device’s USB port.
It sends video signals to a PC by turning the video signals created by an HDMI port into data readable by a PC.
These cards allow you to receive video from the output device like the console and record it if you want.
You can also have capture cards in the shape of PCIe expansion cards used inside desktop PCs if their motherboards have an available slot.
You connect the capture card to the output device via an HDMI cable and hook it up to the laptop’s USB port via a USB cable.
Since the videos sent from these gadgets are 4K, involving huge amounts of data, you need a USB port that transfers data fast.
As a result, a USB-C or a Thunderbolt port is the preferred choice over other types.
One of the most popular capture cards is the Elgato 4K60S+, praised for its reasonable price and superior performance compared to other competitors.
However, if you want to go for another product, make sure your laptop matches its system requirements.
Most of these capture cards require a high-end laptop with powerful graphics to deliver great results.
You may get laggy images if your laptop doesn’t meet the system requirements.
Therefore, you should decide if you can replace a capture card with a decent HDTV at the same or lower prices.
If you’re 100% certain you want a capture card, you won’t need to decide between an external and internal card because your laptop can only accept the latter.
Resolution is a key factor depending on your purposes.
If you want to watch videos at high resolution, go for 4K, but if you want to record and upload the videos on the internet, 720P may be enough.
However, getting a 4K resolution is the best if you want to be future-proof and don’t mind the higher price tag.
Support for HDR (High Dynamic Range) is another crucial factor that makes your capture card compatible with high-end consoles and 4K monitors.
2. HDMI Adaptors
You can use different adaptors to connect your eternal device to your laptop and watch videos on its screen.
Depending on the laptop and the external device’s ports, DisplayPort or USB adaptors are possible options.
These gadgets connect to the external device’s HDMI and the laptop’s DisplayPort or USB ports.
This way, you can easily connect the two devices and watch videos on your laptop.
3. Wireless Connections
You can always use the wireless option if you don’t want to spend money on external devices.
Just like you mirror your smartphone’s images on your TV screen, you can mirror the external device—like the gaming console’s images—onto your laptop screen.
You just need to download the mirroring software on your laptop and connect the two devices through it.
Miracast is one of the most popular and widely used apps that allows you to connect your devices and has an easy-to-use interface.
It has free and paid versions, with the former only supporting 720P.
The app works over Wi-Fi and supports various video and audio formats, manual connection, file sharing, etc.
If you have a Windows PC and want to project its contents onto your laptop screen, you can use built-in Windows and macOS features to connect the two devices wirelessly.
The only requirements are that both devices should run on the same operating system and connect to the same Wi-Fi.
Here’s how to connect your devices:
Your laptop is the second screen in this setup, and you should start the setup process with your laptop.
Right-click the Start button and go to Settings.
Select System > Projecting to this PC.
Enable the option under Some Windows and Android devices can project to this PC when you say it’s Ok.
If the option is grayed out in your system, go to Optional features and add Wireless Display to the current features.
Install the feature by following the on-screen prompts, and go back to the previous window.
You can increase the security of your connection by selecting Available everywhere on secure networks.
This way, you can only connect the two devices when you’re on a secure network.
You could also set a PIN to prevent every device from connecting to your laptop.
Open the Connect app on your laptop and go to the computer you want to use as the source device.
Go to System > Display > Multiple display > Connect to a wireless display.
Select Connect, look for your laptop in the list, and select it to connect the two devices.
The main requirements for connecting two Mac devices wirelessly are the macOS version and Apple ID accounts.
You need to have macOS Monterey or later and the same Apple ID account on both devices.
To set up the devices, start with the desktop Mac.
Go to Control Center and select Screen Mirroring.
You should see your MacBook on the list of compatible devices if it meets the requirements.
Here, you can set Display Preferences like the resolution and color of the MacBook’s screen.
You can also use your MacBook’s screen as an extension of the desktop Mac, showing different contents or mirror the screens, displaying the same content on both screens.
How Does HDMI Work?
High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a form of signal transmission that can handle high-definition audio and video signals.
It works the same way as a digital visual interface (DVI).
The only difference is that HDMI transfers audio signals, too.
Before its emergence, devices used coaxial cables, VGA, radio frequency, or Scart connections, which were all analog.
As a result, the images had low aspect ratios (typically 4:3), leading to square pictures.
In addition, these connections only transferred video signals, and audio signals required other ports.
When the HDTV came along, the need emerged for a standard to connect digital devices through high-bandwidth connections.
These TVs have high-definition pictures because they use information in the shape of ones and zeros and feature wider screens with higher resolutions and faster refresh rates.
They need a connection standard that keeps these high resolutions.
HDMI works with TDMS (transition Minimized Differential Signaling) to transfer information.
It’s a great way to transfer data because it minimizes signal loss, typically found in wired connections.
This technology reduces signal loss through a series of encoding and decoding processes at the source and receiving devices, respectively.
Since data is transferred in the shape of ones and zeros, the transition between them can degrade the signal.
Encoding the signals can prevent that by changing digital data into physical waves.
In addition, the wires ensure the signal doesn’t drop by carrying the signals in one twisted pair and their inverse copies in another.
The receiving device gets the signal and decodes it.
If the main signal is different from its reverse when it gets to the receiver, it indicates there has been a loss, which the receiver will compensate for.
That’s why you’ll get high-definition audio and video through HDMI.
These capabilities have enabled HDMI to support every modern video format, including HD, Ultra HD, and even 8K.
The same thing goes for audio.
HDMI can support dual-channel PCM stereo audio, eight-channel uncompressed digital audio, and everything in between.
These formats include Dolby Atmos, DTS-HD Master Audio, and many others.
The HDMI connection is one of the most secure types of connection to prevent piracy.
HDMI cables use High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) to prevent devices from copying and recording data without permission.
The two connected devices recognize each other as the authorized sender and receiver of signals to encode and decode the signals.
This process is called a Handshake and prevents recording or streaming devices from stealing the information.