HDMI vs. USB-C 101: Where Can You Use HDMI and Where Can You Use USB-C?

The thing about High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) versus Universal Serial Bus (USB) is that comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges. HDMI focuses more on connecting media players or cable boxes with HDTVs in order to view HD media audio-visually. USB is more about file transfers or making hardware work with your PC without having to jump hoops and find drivers for each and every one of them.

As for HDMI vs USB-C, it’s important to remember what USB C, USB-C, or USB Type-C is all about. It’s a type of Universal Serial Bus hardware that uses a smaller port and smaller cable connector for portal devices like laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones, power bank, MP3 players, Personal Digital Assistants, and so on. It’s not uncommon to get a Type-C USB cord and USB adapter for it included with your mobile phone or laptop.

HDMI Is The Best Multimedia-Device-to-TV Connection Format

HDMI is one of the most common connections out there for game consoles, laptops, tablets, set-top boxes, and HDTVs. It’s a unique kind of connection option that carries both uncompressed audio and video in one cable; the only other format capable of such is DisplayPort (DP). This is the reason why it’s become the format of choice for multimedia devices. It’s like the HD version of SCART but less annoying with its one-cable solution.

To wit, the HDMI connection format comes with the following features:

  • HDMI-CEC: It’s a universal remote control feature of HDMI that allows all HDMI-connected devices to be controlled with one remote. It’s called the HDMI: Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC). It allows you to do things like connect your soundbar to your HDTV through an HDMI-CEEC compatible port and then turn it off or on with your television through the remote control or clicker of the same TV through the HDMI connection.


  • HDCP: High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) is a copyright protection feature of HDMI that safeguards the original footage of original content providers of music, videos, television shows, movies, videogames, and so forth. It prevents digital pirates from easily copying the digital content straight from Blu-Ray discs and streaming videos. It uses a handshake technology that only accepts connections from HDCP-compliant devices.


  • HDMI Version History:  Due to the advent of 4K and 8K content, HDMI has improved by leaps and bounds in bandwidth terms since the release of version 1.0 in 2002. The most common version at present is HDMI 1.4, which was released in 2009. However, the more exciting HDMI 2.0 specification is becoming the new standard. The main difference between the two is bandwidth. The max bandwidth for 1.4 is 10.2 Gbps while 2.0 is at 18 Gbps.


  • HDMI 2.1: There is also HDMI 2.1, which is capable of 40 Gbps but you need the newest HDMI cables to access this full bandwidth feature. It also has the ability to play 8K video at 120 Hz versus 2.0 playing 4K video at 60 Hz. This leap in technology is because HDMI 2.0 was released back in 2013 while 2.1 was released in 2017. It was thanks to 2.1 that the new cable category of Ultra High Speed was introduced.

USB-C Is The Best Portable-Device-to-PC-Hardware Connection Format

After the 2016 version of the MacBook was released, Apple pushed forward the USB Type-C connector by making it the default connection standard for all its laptop connections the same way USB is the standard for most PC and laptops not made by Apple. USB-C displays are also becoming more and more common, such as the Philips Brilliance 258B6QUEB that makes a good companion with your MacBook in case you’re in need of a bigger display.

To wit, here are the features and benefits of USB-C and its connection to HDMI:

  • The Reversible Plug: The USB-C is highly popular because of its fully reversible plug that has cross-platform compatibility with other computers, laptops, tablets, and the newest smartphone releases from 2016 onwards. Like HDMI, it doesn’t only output video but audio as well. However, this is on top of power and data like a USB port should. You usually can’t download files with the HDMI. In fact, it might even be construed as an act of piracy by the HDMI-CEC.


  • USB-C Monitors versus HDTV: The HDTV and HDMI is definitely the superior choice when it comes to AV displays and monitors. HDMI monitors for PCs are on the rise, but most consumers would rather connect their monitor with a USB-C input or even a USB one rather than the HDMI one since most monitors don’t have a sound output and many PC users use the laptop speakers, external speakers, headphones, earphones, or headsets to listen to the sound versus having it come from the display.


  • A Versatile Cable When All Is Said and Done: The USB-C is the portable or laptop version of the USB format that also allows you to connect things like scanners, printers, WACOM tablets, webcams, and more to your MacBook or some other mobile device. Sure, the arrival of USB 4.0 in August 2019 shows that USB is here to stay, but as far as Apple and its laptops are concerned, the USB-C is their all-around hardware cable. It’s come to the point that there exist USB-C to HDMI converters to allow Apple laptops and phones to connect to HDTVs and the like rather than have an HDMI port.

Final Thoughts

HDMI helps complete your home theater because it connects audio-video devices to your HDTV or other HDMI displays. Meanwhile, USB-C is the type of USB that allows portable devices like the laptop to connect to various pieces of PC hardware, like when you need to upload your cellphone pics to your laptop so that it could use software to print them out via printer (which in turn is connected to your notebook PC via standard USB). Like with USB versus HDMI, it’s unlikely for USB-C and HDMI to ever overlap with each other.

They control different territories, with HDMI covering the HDTV and media console world, USB covering the desktop PC and hardware world, and USB-C covering the mobile phone and laptop world. Some HDTVs might have a USB-C connection, but mostly to assist with streaming. In turn, a laptop might have an HDMI connection to allow it to show its screen on an HDTV but otherwise, the USB-C is a non-factor unless it’s the only way to connect HDTV with your laptop via a USB-C to HDMI adapter.


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