HDMI Types: The 3 Standards Defining Digital Media (2023)

By Tibor Moes / Updated: June 2023

HDMI Types: The 3 Standards Defining Digital Media (2023)<br />

HDMI Types

Consider the world of fashion: Just as one shoe size doesn’t fit all, HDMI cables also come in different ‘sizes’ or types, each designed to perform specific functions and meet different requirements. Let’s explore this universe of HDMI types to find your perfect fit!


HDMI types refer to the various versions of HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) cables, each having unique capabilities. They are used to transmit digital video and audio signals between devices like TVs, computers, and gaming consoles, with different types designed to cater to specific needs and tech advancements.

Type 1 – HDMI 2.1: The latest version, HDMI 2.1, allows for impressive data rates of up to 48 Gbps, supports 8K resolution, and introduces new features such as Dynamic HDR and Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC).

Type 2 – HDMI 2.0b: Predominantly used in many devices, HDMI 2.0b supports 4K resolution at 60 frames per second, HDR, and an Audio Return Channel (ARC). This version brought to life the vivid, colorful, and fast-paced scenes we enjoy in modern gaming and movies.

Type 3 – Micro HDMI (Type D): Designed for small portable devices like tablets and smartphones, this micro version of the HDMI cable is fascinating because it provides the same functionalities as the standard HDMI, but in a tiny form factor, enabling high-definition video on the go.

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HDMI Types – In-depth

HDMI 2.1

Imagine you’re driving on a vast, high-speed, multi-lane highway. The road is smooth, the lanes are wide, and the speed limit? A staggering 48 Gbps, or gigabits per second! This isn’t some futuristic transportation concept, but rather a fitting analogy for the powerhouse that is HDMI 2.1.

Released in 2017, HDMI 2.1 is like the luxury sports car of HDMI cables, setting new standards in the world of digital connectivity. But what sets HDMI 2.1 apart from its predecessors, you ask? Let’s start with its key feature – speed.

Speed that Wows

Remember the 48 Gbps speed limit we mentioned earlier? That’s the maximum data transfer rate HDMI 2.1 can handle. Compared to the maximum 18 Gbps of its predecessor, HDMI 2.0, that’s quite the leap! This high-speed capability allows HDMI 2.1 to transmit much more data, resulting in superior audio-visual experiences.

Hello, 8K Resolution!

The increased data transfer rate of HDMI 2.1 allows for higher video resolutions and faster refresh rates. So, buckle up for an 8K video resolution at 60 frames per second (fps), or even 4K resolution at an eye-popping 120 fps! That means more details and smoother, more realistic motion in your videos and games. If you thought your favorite movie or video game looked good before, HDMI 2.1 takes it to a whole new level.

Dynamic HDR: A Game Changer

Dynamic HDR, another big feature of HDMI 2.1, is like having a personal lighting director who adjusts the brightness, contrast, and color in each scene or even each frame of your video. This results in greater detail, enhanced depth, brighter highlights, and fuller, richer colors. It’s the difference between looking at a picture of a rainbow and seeing a rainbow in real life!

eARC: Making Audio Shine

HDMI 2.1 also introduces the Enhanced Audio Return Channel, or eARC. This feature allows you to enjoy the highest quality audio formats available, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. It’s like having a high-end concert hall right in your living room. Whether you’re listening to your favorite band’s latest album or immersing yourself in a high-octane action movie, eARC ensures that you get the best sound experience possible.

In the end, HDMI 2.1 isn’t just a cable; it’s a passport to a whole new world of immersive entertainment. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer, a movie buff, or just someone who enjoys quality audio-visual experiences, HDMI 2.1 has something exciting in store for you.

HDMI 2.0b

Imagine embarking on a journey aboard a well-equipped, reliable cruise liner. It’s not the fastest ship on the seas, but it’s got a host of amenities and it’s trusted by many. This nautical analogy aptly describes HDMI 2.0b, a widely adopted and reliable standard in the realm of HDMI cables.

A Reliable Companion

Introduced back in 2016, HDMI 2.0b might not have the speed of HDMI 2.1, but it certainly holds its own in delivering a strong, all-around performance. You can think of HDMI 2.0b as the reliable workhorse that has carried us through the era of 4K entertainment.

4K at Its Best

HDMI 2.0b supports 4K resolution, which means it can deliver over 8 million pixels to your screen! That’s four times the detail of the old 1080p Full HD standard. This means more sharpness, clarity, and detail in every scene. And with the ability to support 60 frames per second, HDMI 2.0b ensures smooth and crisp action, whether you’re gaming or watching high-speed sports.

HDR: A Colorful Touch

While HDMI 2.0b doesn’t offer Dynamic HDR like HDMI 2.1, it does support HDR (High Dynamic Range), providing a wide color gamut and greater color depth. This is like swapping a regular box of crayons for a deluxe set with many more shades. HDR brings out the vibrant hues and subtle tones in your favorite movies and games, giving you a richer, more immersive visual experience.

ARC: A Symphony of Sound

HDMI 2.0b also features the Audio Return Channel, or ARC. This feature sends audio data “upstream” to your soundbar or speaker system, reducing the need for additional audio cables. This is like having a direct, private line to your favorite concert venue, delivering high-quality sound right to your home.

Embracing 3D

Fans of 3D movies will also appreciate HDMI 2.0b. This standard supports 3D video formats, which means you can enjoy immersive 3D movies from the comfort of your own couch. Just remember to have your 3D glasses handy!

In essence, HDMI 2.0b is like a trusty friend that delivers consistent, quality performance. It may not have the breakneck speed or the advanced features of its successor, HDMI 2.1, but it has been instrumental in paving the way for the high-definition digital era that we enjoy today.

Micro HDMI (Type D)

Imagine you’re trying to pack for a weekend getaway, and you’re deciding between two suitcases. One is large, spacious, and can fit almost anything, while the other is small, compact, and easier to carry around. The smaller suitcase is similar to a Micro HDMI cable – it offers similar features to its larger counterparts, but in a much smaller package.

The Little Giant

Born in the era of portable technology, Micro HDMI, known as Type D, is like David in the world of HDMI Goliaths. This version was introduced to cater to the need for high-definition connectivity in smaller devices, such as tablets, smartphones, and digital cameras. Don’t be fooled by its size, though; this little cable packs a punch.

Size Doesn’t Matter

Despite being around 50% smaller than the standard Type A HDMI, Micro HDMI can deliver the same high-quality video and audio. Think of it as being able to fit all the flavors of a large pizza into a smaller one. Yes, the size is different, but the taste – or in this case, the quality – remains the same. So, whether you’re connecting your tablet to your TV to watch a movie, or showcasing your latest photos from your digital camera, Micro HDMI ensures you don’t compromise on quality.


In our increasingly mobile world, portability matters. With its small size, Micro HDMI is travel-friendly. It’s like having a miniature map that fits in your pocket but unfolds to show all the details of a larger one. This makes it ideal for on-the-go presentations, sharing vacation photos, or even mobile gaming on a bigger screen.

Less Is More

Another neat aspect of Micro HDMI is that it helps reduce clutter. If you’ve ever struggled with too many cables around your devices, you’ll appreciate this. It’s like having a compact, multi-tool instead of carrying around a bulky toolbox. With Micro HDMI, you get all the functionality you need in one slim, sleek cable.

In the end, Micro HDMI, or Type D, shows us that good things often come in small packages. It might be the smallest member of the HDMI family, but it stands tall, delivering the same high-quality audio-visual experience while embracing the convenience of portability.



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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are the most frequently asked questions.

Can I use an HDMI 2.1 cable with my HDMI 2.0 device?

Yes, you can. HDMI cables are backward-compatible. This means an HDMI 2.1 cable will work with an HDMI 2.0 device, but it will only support the features and capabilities of the HDMI 2.0 standard.

What is the major difference between HDMI 2.0b and HDMI 2.1?

The biggest difference lies in the bandwidth. HDMI 2.1 offers a significant jump in bandwidth up to 48 Gbps compared to HDMI 2.0b’s 18 Gbps. This allows HDMI 2.1 to support higher resolutions and refresh rates, including 8K at 60 fps and 4K at 120 fps, as well as features like Dynamic HDR and Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC).

Can I use a Micro HDMI cable with my smartphone?

It depends on your smartphone. While Micro HDMI was common on some older smartphones and tablets, many newer devices have moved away from this standard in favor of USB-C. Always check your device’s specifications or user manual to see what type of output it supports.

Author: Tibor Moes

Author: Tibor Moes

Founder & Chief Editor at SoftwareLab

Tibor is a Dutch engineer and entrepreneur. He has tested security software since 2014.

Over the years, he has tested most of the best antivirus software for Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, as well as many VPN providers.

He uses Norton to protect his devices, CyberGhost for his privacy, and Dashlane for his passwords.

This website is hosted on a Digital Ocean server via Cloudways and is built with DIVI on WordPress.

You can find him on LinkedIn or contact him here.

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