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HDMI vs DisplayPort

01 Oct 2013 at 13:10
HDMI vs DisplayPort is a common argument and I feel quite strongly in favour of DisplayPort. In this article I am going to discuss the advantages of each

I have always argued in favour of DisplayPort over HDMI due to a few big reasons.

I got my first HDMI device in 2007 and my first DisplayPort device in 2010 (which was early days for DisplayPort, so I would like to say I was an early adopter of DisplayPort). Since then, all four of my monitors to date have featured DisplayPort.

When I got my first HDMI device, which was a Panasonic VHS/DVD recorder combo, I could see it was in some way going to become the future, but then when I got my first DisplayPort device I could see where it too fitted in to the future.

This article is going to look at why I argue that DisplayPort is better and compare both HDMI and DisplayPort.

Royalties

DisplayPort wins this argument as it is royalty-free. This is one of the key principles of DisplayPort that makes it cheaper to implement and more attractive to business users.

HDMI has a royalty fee that must be paid by the manufacturer of $15,000 a year. This cost will then be reflected in the price of the device for the end user.

DisplayPort is fully royalty-free making it a clear winner here.

Industries

The first thing to note is that there are two industries that do not compete particularly, but while DisplayPort sticks to the computing industry, HDMI crosses into both the computing and AV industries.

This is where HDMI has the advantage. Even Apple, who has backed DisplayPort (and still does) has now added a HDMI port to three of their Mac range of computers.

HDMI belongs in the AV industry however, and DisplayPort with it's low pricing belongs in the computing industry.

DisplayPort belongs to the computing industry so receives a lot of backing for more support for more advanced technology.

Multi display

Most computers probably only have one DisplayPort connectors but maybe two DVI/HDMI connectors. This means that out of the box, two HDMI devices can be connected. Did you know however that DisplayPort allows you to daisy-chain up to five monitors that support daisy-chaining (such as Apple's Thunderbolt Display)? This actually means you only need one DisplayPort connection to be able to utilise up to 5 displays. This is known as MST.

DisplayPort has better multidisplay support.

Resolution

DisplayPort wins here too. In the DisplayPort 1.2 specification there was room for a maximum resolution of 3840 by 2880 pixels at 50Hz compared with HDMI at the time which supported 2560 by 1600 at 60Hz. When HDMI 2.0 was released in September 2013, HDMI had the upper hand, pushing the resolution to support 4096 by 2160 (4K) resolutions at 60Hz. Only a year later DisplayPort 1.3 was released, supporting 5120×2880 at 60Hz or two displays at 3840 by 2880 at 60Hz and still supporting daisy chaining.

Better still, the up and coming DisplayPort 1.4 specification is expected to add 8K support.

DisplayPort has a much faster implementation rate than HDMI.

Compatibility

HDMI is electrically compatible with only one connector - DVI. HDMI is practically DVI with extra auxilary channels added to allow room for Ethernet and audio support, as well as CEC and so on (isn't that strange - a computing industry connection that evolved into an AV industry connection?).

DisplayPort is a fresh standard that provides access to other connectors. DisplayPort is compatible using cheap converters with VGA, DVI and HDMI when the DisplayPort is running in Dual mode. In this case it would be a DP++ device (most devices are). DisplayPort cannot accept a VGA, DVI or HDMI signal going in the way however. DisplayPort is also a major part of the PCI-Express based Thunderbolt IO connector and therefore is considered a standard.

DisplayPort supports multiple different formats through the one type of connection.

Features

Perhaps the most difficult decision between the two connectors is the feature sets of both.

DisplayPort features a range of really useful features including USB 3.0, Ethernet and audio (although unlike HDMI, audio is not a fully neccessary addition).

HDMI also features a range of useful features including Ethernet, audio and CEC (consumer electronic controls) commands to send a command signal to the display (so that it can adjust it's volume, switch it on or off or control it with the same remote control).

Both connectors have features that suit their intended industry

Availability

Whilst it's not something that necessarily divides these two, HDMI has the upper hand with availability, not so much as used to, but there are still more devices with HDMI out there. DisplayPort is getting more available to end users across the world, but with monitors it tends to be sparse despite the fact that there are no royalties required. 

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