THROWBACK THURSDAY: I was right about HDMI

Take a look for yourself. Back in 2012 I forecast that HDMI would be pretty much the only connection you’d find on TVs and other devices. It’s pretty amazing to me that was 9 years ago. Of course it wasn’t too hard to guess, considering that the whole industry had been going in that direction for about six years. It’s sort of like forecasting that a car will come to a stop after you’ve already seen the stop sign. But hey, I take my successes where I can.

A little about HDMI

HDMI has been one of the consumer electronics industry’s biggest successes. Only USB has received more of a universal adoption. Basically today, if your device puts out video it either has an HDMI port or has a port that can be adapted to HDMI, period. There have been other contenders and you could even argue that they were better, but HDMI is apparently here to stay.

And yes, there are wireless connection methods as well, but even those products that do connect wirelessly always have an HDMI connection to fall back on. Sometimes it takes an adapter, because the HDMI plug itself is fairly large. But everything from DSLRs to prepaid phones can use HDMI.

And why not? Unlike its early days, it’s now an open standard. Still, it allows nearly unhackable encryption when it has to. The plug is easy to use and doesn’t snag on other cables when you fish it around. It fits snugly enough that it’s never in danger of falling apart and it’s cheap to make. So what could be so bad about that?

It’s also small enough… especially the smaller connectors used for phones and other portable devices. I can’t imagine any need for a connector smaller than my pinky nail. It’s able to carry 4K content which is probably going to be good enough for the time being, until we all get wall-sized TVs. There’s a lot to like about HDMI especially looking at the component and DVI connections that were common before HDMI came along.

Other contenders?

Still, HDMI isn’t the only game in town. Apple’s laptops use Thunderbolt over USB-C. From a technical perspective that’s a better option, as it allows power, networking, and video over a very small connection. But it’s not likely to become common because HDMI just works.

And, there are also professional options like SDI. SDI is the connection that the HDMI people don’t want you to know about. It’s a standard that uses a single coax cable to deliver uncompressed, unencrypted video. Audio requires a separate cable. But it’s almost impossible to buy anything with SDI on board for under $1,000. It’s not like the tech is so expensive, but the content providers have conspired to keep SDI out of the hands of regular folks. They’re too worried that you’ll use it to make pristine digital copies and sell them on streetcorners. Come on guys, this isn’t 1995.

So folks there you have it.

I told you HDMI would be the one and only standard on video devices and I was right. For my next trick, I’d like to forecast that the sun will rise tomorrow after a period of darkness lasting about, something over 11 hours. I may be putting myself out on a limb, but I think I can risk it.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.