The HDMI standard has proven to be a mainstay of the post-HD digital era. While new versions have been released and speeds have increased, the connectors have remained unchanged since their inception. So, how do you tell the difference between standard HDMI, Mini HDMI, and Micro HDMI? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is HDMI?
It’s a good idea to learn the basics of HDMI before diving into the different types of HDMI cables available. High Definition Multimedia Interface is the acronym for HDMI. It’s a digital standard for sending video and audio from a source (such as a Blu-ray player or gaming console) to a display or recorder.
HDMI has gone through several iterations, each allowing for higher resolutions and framerates by increasing bandwidth throughput. HDMI 2.1 is the most recent standard, with a total throughput of 48 Gbps, or enough bandwidth for an uncompressed 12-bit 4K HDR signal at 120Hz.
Whether you’re using full-fat HDMI (also known as Type-A) or a smaller variant, the standard uses 19 pins to carry video and audio, clocks to keep everything in sync, 5V of power, and even Ethernet data.
A standard Type-A HDMI cable, such as the one found in the back of your TV or on a game console, has a 14 x 4.55 mm connector that can only be inserted one way.
What is Mini HDMI?
Mini HDMI is a smaller version of the digital interface, also known as Type-C. The connector is only 10.42 x 2.42 mm in size and has 19 pins, though they are arranged differently than the larger Type-A connector. HDMI cables with both a Type-A and a Mini HDMI (Type-C) connector are common.
While larger devices, such as gaming consoles and televisions, have plenty of interface space, smaller devices often have to make do with less. Mini HDMI fills this gap, offering all of the benefits of the HDMI interface in a much smaller package.
Digital cameras and camcorders are the most common devices that use Mini HDMI. Some laptops, as well as some smaller computers like the Raspberry Pi Zero, use the smaller form factor.
What is Micro HDMI?
Micro HDMI, also known as Type-D, reduces the size of the interface even more. The connector is only 6.4 x 2.8 mm in size, but it has all 19 pins (though the layout is different from both standard and Mini connectors). Micro HDMI is less common than the other two types, and it has fallen out of favor in recent years.
These connectors are found on Android phones such as the Motorola Droid X, HTC One VX, Samsung Galaxy Note II, and LG Optimus G.
You’d be correct if you thought these were all old. Most Android phones now have USB-C ports, and many of them can support HDMI output with the help of a USB-C to HDMI adapter.
GoPro action cameras are arguably the most common devices that still use Micro HDMI. Micro HDMI ports are found on the GoPro Hero 4, Hero 5 Black, Hero 6 Black, and Hero 7 Black action cameras, while Micro HDMI is still used with the Media Mod on the Hero 8 Black and Hero 9 Black action cameras (sold separately).
HDMI is the Future
The beauty of HDMI is that it maintains compatibility with previous versions with each new iteration. You can use an HDMI connection from an old laptop or Xbox 360 console to display content on a brand new 8K television without any problems.
In contrast, older analogue standards such as SCART, component, S-video, and similar connections often necessitate the use of intermediary devices to convert them to digital-ready HDMI. It’s difficult to display older consoles and computers on a modern television without such an interface.
HDMI 2.1 is a relatively new standard, with the first source devices such as the Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5, and NVIDIA’s 30-Series graphics cards expected to arrive in 2020. While standards are constantly evolving, HDMI 2.1 offers more than enough bandwidth for the time being.
HDMI 2.1 supports 10K at 120Hz with display stream compression, enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) for soundbars and home theatre receivers, Dolby Atmos audio formats, and gaming features such as native variable refresh rate (VRR) technology.
The Type-A connector is widely used, and cables are readily available. If HDMI were to be phased out, USB-C would be a strong contender. HDCP 2.2 support is currently limited to HDMI, but HDMI over USB-C is already possible.
The only other technology that could dethrone HDMI is a wireless standard. While wireless display technology is useful for portable devices (and is already enabled by technologies such as AirPlay), wireless technologies are notoriously susceptible to interference.
As a result, using a wireless connection for stationary devices like game consoles or Blu-Ray players makes little sense, even if it reduces cable clutter.
Buying and Using the Right HDMI Cables
If you need to use a Mini or Micro HDMI (Type-C or Type-D) cable, it was most likely included with your device. There’s no need to worry about HDMI 2.1 in these cases because most of these devices are limited to 4K and below (even at 60Hz).
You can use a mobile app to verify that your HDMI 2.1 cables have passed certification if you’re buying them. New consoles such as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 will come with HDMI 2.1 cables, which will not improve image quality when replaced with aftermarket alternatives.
In fact, we advise against using “premium” HDMI cables at all. While they claim to have better shielding and data throughput, they’re no better than cheap cables.
Well, that’s all we have here about the differences between HDMI, Mini HDMI, and Micro HDMI. We hope this guide helped you.
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