HDMI to replace DVI and VGA on new devices

VGA, DVI, MiniHDMI, HDMI Connectors

Today we are at a crossroads of different display connectors: VGA, DVI, M1 (DVI+USB), HDMI, and mini-HDMI. I think we can all agree that VGA is dying out and is for the most part replaced by DVI in all newer models. M1 was a horrible idea by the projector companies to sell $50 DVI to M1 adapters. It allows you to take a computer and plug in a single cable to the projector to carry over USB for mouse control and VGA/DVI for video. It may have came out of the fact that no one connected the USB to the projector and the mouse control feature was rarely ever actually used. With that convenience, you get $50 adapter cables to connect that projector into anything on the market today. Then HDMI came out for TVs to connect high-definition digital sources.

The thing that puzzled me the most is the conversion between DVI to HDMI is so┬átrivial. Why do we have both DVI and HDMI? Well DVI actually holds a lot more than HDMI but it’s because it still carries analog VGA signals. Ever wonder why you can just plug a $10 DVI to VGA adapter and connect a VGA monitor to your computer? Well, it’s because DVI-AD [analog, digital] actually is a VGA port. That was needed as we transitioned from analog displays to digital displays. Now that we have a large amount of digital-ready displays, we really don’t need analog anymore. Which could take us to DVI-D [digital] but at this point, that is basically just a large connector for HDMI. I think in the near future we will see everything turn into HDMI. Your computer will have only HDMI out and your monitor will have only HDMI in.

However, this brings up another issue. Many new smartphone and tablets have mini-HDMI outs because they just can’t fit the full port in. I hope to stop the problem of USB, mini USB and micro USB from infecting HDMI that we instead agree that smaller is better. The next-gen of tech devices should only carry mini-HDMI ports. I don’t think there is any benefit of a standard USB connector over a micro USB and we should take that logic to HDMI. When was the last time you wanted to plug something in and realize that you have a mini USB cable and the device is a micro USB. Or even worse, something┬áproprietary. This is a simple message to any manufacture that thinks they are worthy of making a new connector (I’m looking at you Apple), you are not worth it. Sure millions of people buy Apple’s overpriced cables instead of cheap USB cables that basically are the same thing, but that doesn’t mean millions of people are not quietly brooding over your “genius” connector/cable.

2021 Update

So 10 years later, I think it’s true that we now rarely see VGA or DVI on devices today. But there is a new challenger called DisplayPort and just as before saying that HDMI was going to replace all others, I think we will see DisplayPort (DP) replace most HDMI. Looking into why anyone would use DisplayPort quickly comes about that manufacturers have to pay licenses fees for HDMI and so many devices today might include a single port of HDMI but will include 3 DisplayPort. Another benefit of DisplayPort is it has much higher capabilities, you can easily hit the limit of HDMI in resolution and frame rate. For newer devices, I’ve jumped into using DisplayPort and really other than the cables, you won’t notice much difference.

openanalytics 3171 views

I'm a 35 year old UIUC Computer Engineer building mobile apps, websites and hardware integrations with an interest in 3D printing, biotechnology and Arduinos.

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