Some devices already support video output over a USB type C connector, but they normally rely on DisplayPort over USB type C, so you’d either need a monitor that supports DisplayPort, or some USB Type C to HDMI converter. A DisplayLink dock is another solution, but again it converts video and audio signals. But soon you’ll be able to use a simple USB type C to HDMI cable between a capable device (camera, phone, computer, TV box…) and any HDMI TV or monitor.
This is being made possible thanks to HDMI Alt Mode for USB Type-C that supports all HDMI 1.4b features including:
- Resolutions up to 4K (@ 30 Hz)
- Surround sound
- Audio Return Channel (ARC)
- 3D (4K and HD)
- HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)
- Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)
- Deep Color, x.v.Color, and content types
- High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP 1.4 and HDCP 2.2)
There’s no video or audio conversion inside the cable, but there’s still a small micro-controller to handle messaging to negotiate the alt mode to use, which means the source device will have to be specifically supporting the new standard.
Charbax caught up with a representative of HDMI Licensing Administrator inc. demonstrating USB-C to HDMI cable with a 2-in-1 laptop connected to an HDMI monitor, as well as a camera prototype getting both HDMI signal with CEC support, and power (USB-PD) over a single cable.
The new specification is good news, and we should expect capable devices later this year. We’d just had to hope manufacturers will get serious with logos and description of features of their USB type C connectors, as there are now so many optional features that it could end up getting really confusing to end users. In case you wonder why HDMI 2.0b, with features like 4K @ 60 Hz and HDR, is not supported, the FAQ explains that “the HDMI Forum is responsible for the HDMI 2.0b specification and they have not made any public statements regarding the HDMI Alt Mode for the HDMI 2.0b spec”.