Few years ago, if anyone had said that there is a probability that USB Type-C will replace HDMI, people might have laughed it off. But the way USB Type-C has emerged over the years it has made everybody rethink the capability of USB-C.
This USB type is already a standard choice for high speed data transfer and high power delivery between the devices. Most of the modern latest smartphones and laptops nowadays rely greatly on Type-C ports.
Not only that, many monitor and TV brands are slowly adopting USB Type-C in their devices. One of the main reasons that many brands are adopting USB Type-C is that it can also deliver 4K video signals with high bandwidth coverage.
However it is unlikely USB Type C will completely replace HDMI, but there is a probability that in near future USB Type-C may become an alternative to HDMI. So let’s dig deep into the details and find out whether USB Type-C will replace HDMI or not.
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The Impact of USB Type-C In Video Transmission
USB Type C currently serves as an universal connector for both data transfer and power delivery. Most of the devices whether it is smartphone, laptop, TV or monitor, are currently utilizing this USB in different capacities.
Although it started with data and power signal transmission, USB Type-C can now also transmit video and audio signals at high bandwidth coverage. With latest USB 4 version 2, Type-C can deliver a speed up to 80 Gbps and help in delivering high resolution videos at high refresh rate.
Most devices have been able to utilize 4K video resolution throught USB C cable at 120Hz refresh rate. A great thing that brands are gradually considering as the main port is that it can transmit high quality video signals and also charge devices at the same time.
Furthermore, USB-C also comes with DisplayPort 2.0 specification support and its USB-C Alt Mode, it can seamlessly deliver 8K video signals at 120Hz refresh rate. According to many tests, DP 2.0 can also use a USB-C connector to provide a signal up to 16K at low refresh rate.
As USB-C is based on the specification of DP 2.0, it has the capability to utilize Multi Stream Technology and allow you to connect multiple monitors through daisy chain and not any adapter.
Importantly, it comes with high quality audio support from multiple channels. Moreover it also comes integrated with the support for many audio technologies that not only ensures a great audio experience but also compliments the high resolution video. You will be surprised to know that through USB Alt Mode, it allows devices to send video signals to HDMI ports and that too without any adapter.
However the number of devices adapting such a technique is quite less and it is only possible with HDMI 1.4bs ports which is an old HDMI standard. Brands like Samsung and LG have already adopted the Alternative Mode to utilize USB-C ports in their display for video signal transmission.
How HDMI Is Holding Its Market Dominance In Displays
Undoutedbly, HDMI is the market leader when it comes to sending video and audio signals to a display. HDMI port has been dominating the market for more than two decades and the HDMI Forum is always improvising the specification and capability.
It serves the best choice for delivering video at the highest resolution possible and that too without degradation and compression.
Moreover HDMI is integrated with two way communication that allows the devices to transfer video, audio and control signals simultaneously. Most importantly, it can send audio signals through multiple channels and ensure you a surrounding audio quality through your audio home theater.
With advancement in HDMI standards, HDMI has come up with many advanced video and audio features and it has allowed displays to offer the best visual quality possible. The latest HDMI comes with all the modern format supports and gets impressive color depth that isn’t possible with other ports.
This is the reason most display brands, whether they are making TV or monitor, have chosen a universal standard for video and audio transmission. HDMI Forum doesn’t charge you any loyalty fee for using the port so it is easy for display and cable brands to produce the product using HDMI port at a cheaper rate.
Not to forget, the latest HDMI standards are coupled with data encryption technology and it has helped the industry to curb down piracy by a large margin.
HDMI is continually improving and from a video perspective, HDMI is far ahead of USB-C in video and audio transmission. Although the alternative mode has been utilized for USB-C to work with HDMI, the alt-mode is USB-C with only limited HDMI 1.4b.
USB Type C and HDMI: How Different Are They?
Even though HDMI and USB Type C are capable of sending video and audio signals, they are quite different to each other.
USB-C can do a lot of tasks which includes video and audio signal transfer, data transmission and power delivery. Nowadays, some laptops like MacBook are utilizing USB-C as a primary video port because it has the capability to display 4K at high refresh rate and also charge your device at the same time.
USB-C uses the DP 2.0 specification for seamless video transmission but to a certain resolution. Through Alt-Mode it can work with HDMI but up to 4K 60Hz and that too without HDR. It can also seamlessly transmit high quality audio with ease and allows you to have an immersive experience.
Although it can do a lot of tasks, it can’t be considered as a primary video port for high-end devices that need 8K signal transmission with surrounding audio effects. It may not able to utilizes the latest HDCP 2.2, it still offe HDCP copy protection standard but the specification is getting outdated.
HDMI on the other hand is only dedicated for sending audio and video signals and it is present in almost every display present in the market. It comes with a bandwidth around 48 Gbps and it allows the device to provide resolution up to 8K at 60Hz refresh rate.
With top-end HDMI cables and supported resolution, you can also achieve 10K resolution. HDMI with the latest standard is known for supporting a considerable number of audio channels and latest audio features.
Due to this, HDMI is often used with many soundbars for smooth audio transmission. However that’s that, you can’t do anything more with HDMI apart from video and audio transmission.
Since HDMI is only used for video transmission, it can’t solve the problem of cable cluttering and you can’t use one port for all. But with USB-C which is meant to become a standard port for all, it solves the problem of cable cluttering and ensures a minimal port amount.
Due to this factor many modern laptops are using USB-C ports as the primary option as it is helping to follow slim body design.
USB-C has been recently considered as a primary video port in some laptops especially MacBooks so it doesn’t have a huge market presence. However USB-IF along with other brands is working to expand its coverage and make it a primary video port in most devices.
In contrast, HDMI is the common video port in most devices like TV, monitors, projectors, PC, laptop, projector, home-theater and many more. Moreover most gaming consoles like PlayStation and Xbox predominantly rely on HDMI as most displays come with HDMI connectivity.
Now it boils down to the question, whether USB Type-C can actually replace HDMI;
Will USB Type-C Replace HDMI?
Well, it is a tricky question but given the current circumstance, there is a less chance that USB Type-C will replace HDMI. Since the entry in the market in 2003, HDMI has been a popular choice for most brands and it will take many years for brands to shift from HDMI to USB-C.
Most organizations have to spend a hefty amount to switch from HDMI to USB-C in their devices as they will not only have to make hardware changes but also design changes. Moreover many ongoing devices will last more than five years so if brands start shifting to USB-C, then it will create a compatibility issue in the consumer market.
Importantly, HDMI has been present in the market for a long time and the technology is much more advanced than USB-C. Plus, it comes with better bandwidth and features that cater to current and future’s display requirements. However the way USB-C is integrating DisplayPort specification and features, it is a testament that USB-C is the future.
But USB-IF has to make a lot of effort to popularize USB-C as a video port and use them for most displays and devices. USB-IF has made significant improvements in the technology so that it can deliver high resolution, high refresh and all the latest video and audio technologie that is offered by HDMI.
So we can say, a time will come when USB-C will replace HDMI but it won’t happen anytime soon. The way HDMI is advancing, a situation might arise where HDMI and USB-C will be considered as a convenient choice.