HDMI, short for High Definition Multimedia Interface, is an interface that has rapidly become a standard for transmitting compressed and uncompressed video and audio data from a source to a display.

In essence, it is the digital replacement for analog video standards like composite, component, and VGA.

Widely used in all forms of digital entertainment, from PCs to home theaters, HDMI is more than just a type of cable, cord, or connector. It is a complete technology standard designed for use at a time of great need for speedily transmitting high definition audio and video signals.

Read on, to find out how HDMI burst onto the scene, and became the star of the show.

HDMI history

The HDMI standard was developed by companies like Hitachi, Philips, Sony and Toshiba, who wanted a simpler, single cable solution for connecting two devices together for transmitting audio and video signals. Originally released in December of 2002, multiple versions of HDMI have made their way out, each one massively improving upon the specifications of the previous.

Latest of these is HDMI version 2.1, which is set for release, a month from now, December 2017.

More on that below, but first let’s go over how the industry converging to a single standard like HDMI paved the way for simplification of the clutter that having different types of cables created. With so many TVs, CD, DVD, and Bluray players, cable boxes, gaming consoles, media streamers, and other electronics that have found their way to our homes, having a single interface was a pretty big deal.

For starters, HDMI offered the best possible way to transmit these signals.

The technology is designed to deliver pure, digital signal with crystal clear video quality and multichannel audio. Unlike the previous analog standards that were prevalent, and suffered from quality issues on both the audio and video ends. And since HDMI can transmit both these signals, it also cut down on the cord clutter that used to amass behind entertainment cabinets.

These days, HDMI inputs are found on nearly all devices, from televisions to projectors and AV receivers, which can accept the HD signal coming out of your sources. And while it is important to have enough inputs to accommodate all your electronic essentials, you can always pick up an HDMI switch in order to add extra inputs when you need them.

HDMI for the win

As mentioned above, HDMI has gone through many changes, and the standard is constantly evolving. The latest iteration, version 2.1 is designed to have a transmission bandwidth of 48 Gbits/s, a maximum resolution of 10K at 120 Hz, dynamic HDR, a special game mode, as well as support for an extreme 48-bit color depth, all the popular color space standards, and amped up audio specifications of 192 kHz per channel, a sample rate of 1536 kHz, up to 32 channels.

Numbers enough to get your head dizzy!

But basically, this magical cable is now capable enough to cover pretty much all your digital entertainment needs for the foreseeable future. Whether you are dealing with 4K or 8K, HDR or 3D, surround sound or positional audio like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, HDMI has got you covered. And since it is backwards compatible with your existing equipment, you will not have to start from scratch.

One final word of caution regarding cable quality. It is easy to find cables selling for $100 or even $1,000. For one HDMI cable. Just as well as you can find one for $10 or even half this price. Believe it or not, even these inexpensive ones provide essentially the identical experience as these premium ones.

Get a good one, and be done with it.