What is HDMI? Technical terms explained

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is a technology which enables transfer of audio and video on a single cable. It is an interface between a source and display. For most of us to understand it is a wire and ports.

HDMI is a technology standard. In cases of technology, a group of companies come together and design a new hardware as per rules. Then it becomes a standard that all companies adopt in their gadgets and devices. It was designed in 2002 as a replacement for RCA connector with red, yellow and white connectors.

RCA connectors and their problems

RCA Connectors

RCA technology was designed in 1937. Yellow connector carries the video signal while Red and White carry stereo audio for left and right channel. RCA is analog technology and analog signals carry limited amount of information. Wires and connectors pick up lot of noise which ruins the audio experience. With the advent of high definition content there was a need to design a universal connector which delivers the best experience and is future proof.

Fun Fact – RCA stands for Radio Corporation of America.

Enter the HDMI interface

HDMI is digital. Means it can transfer almost limitless amount of data. It is modulated means same signal is sliced into multiple bits and lots of information packed in one signal.

The confusion on which colour cable to go into which connector is now gone. There is just one cable and it goes into a single connector.

HDMI male connector

In case of HDMI, the hardware standard and pin connectors remain same. Technology is evolved and researched in the processing behind the port. Since the signal is digital, all enhancements and improvements are in the software side of the technology.

Digital signals also mean that there is no noise and interference. This also makes do away with the impedance matching problem with the old RCA connectors.


Space saving technology

The interface is hardly a centimeter across which means it can be packed in the smallest of the spaces. The biggest beneficiaries of this were laptops, notebooks, tablets and slim smart TVs.

The standard HDMI interface is further reduced to the mini and micro versions.

Mini & Micro HDMI interfaces are popular on Notebooks

Confluence of techonolgy

Concept of smart home cannot become a reality if we keep having a gadget with its own display and input. Audio and Video cables are not needed with a TV. But if you need to connect a set top box to the TV there we shall have the problem of wires. This is the reality of today where we need an interface at each level. Say you have a camera to connect to your TV or the gaming console or you want to stream a game to the large screen from your laptop. Static displays and projectors also use HDMI today. Cinematic experience is only possible because of the high capacity of HDMI interfaces.

HDMI with WiFi has also lead to the advent of wireless displays. This technology has limitless practical applications. Multiplexing of various inputs and outputs have also led to lots of complexities getting simplified.

Today we have HDMI devices which are miniature in size and directly plug into the HDMI socket. These devices hide behind the TV easily. They can be controlled via a remote or smart phone app.

HDMI technology has made our lives better and brought about standardisation in technology. Earlier we had a set of three wires for each equipment. Places like music studio where recordings were done, patching up wires was the sound engineer job. Thanks to HDMI we now have home studios and DIY for video and music production.

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