If you’re a baby boomer or a millennial, i.e., if you belong from the period between the 1940s to the early 2000s, you’ve probably seen the evolution of video content during this time. HD video would have become synonymous with “standard” video quality for the late entrants to the party.
From the 1940s to the early 2000s, the standard video output was 480p resolution (720×480 pixels). This made way for “HD” video content, allowing resolutions for up to 1920×1080 pixels or 1080p video content.
Imagine yourself watching football on television. With 480p, the movement of the ball would be difficult to follow. Still, with higher resolutions, the football and other more delicate details of the match are hard to miss, owing to the clarity higher resolutions offer.
With rapidly evolving technology, even 1080p video is no longer a cut above the rest. It’s pretty basic.
We have now transitioned to 4K (and even 8K on some devices) video being streamed on our favorite streaming app, right in our living rooms.
The HDMI connectors have been at the center of this revolution. Before we learn more about these cables, let’s first briefly look at the history of audio-visual cables.
History of Audio-Visual Cables
Most of the electronics we use in our house can be connected to an external display. Even devices like smartphones and laptops come with ports that allow them to be connected to a bigger screen, like a TV or a projector.
This has been made possible by cables – Cables that transmit audio and video signals from one device to the television or other video output devices. As time progressed, technology has made video cables faster and more efficient. That’s how modern, high-definition TVs are way better than the old black-and-white television sets.
Let’s take a walk down memory lane and witness key milestones in the evolution of cables.
For several decades, the 1950s saw the Composite RCA cable, which became a common standard for televisions, VCRs, video game consoles, computers, etc. However, RCA cables could only send one signal, making way for multi-signal cables that replaced them.
The superior S-Video cables replaced the RCA cable. The S-Video cables found their way to VCRs, home computers, and even some early video game consoles till the early decade of the 90s.
IBM came up with the VGA cable for their x86 machines. The cable worked so well that it became an industry standard for electronic devices like computers, televisions, projectors, etc. Over the years, it grew to become the most widely used and longest-lasting video cable.
The upgrade to composite RCS – Component RCA – was developed. This was quite powerful as far as analog cables were concerned. But soon, it was time to make way for digital cables, which soon became the standard.
DVI came into existence with its invention by the Digital Display Working Group. DVI became the first primary standard for digital video cable. It had the advantage of supporting older, analog formats too. Mini and micro DVI cables were also developed to be used with Apple devices.
Many tech companies, supported by media and telecom companies, collaborated to develop HDMI 1.0 cables as a new industry-wide standard. It quickly took its place to be used with computers, televisions, and virtually every other electronic connected to monitors.
HDMI is short for High Definition Multimedia Interface, enabling high-quality video data to be transferred to your viewing device. Even smartphones would support HD video content a while back, but how to take this to a larger screen and watch content without crouching down on your smartphone screen? HDMI is compatible with modern technology. So much so that it’s hard to find a streaming device without the slot for an HDMI connector. However, some of them need a small connector. This calls in for mini HDMI or micro HDMI connectors.
A standard HDMI connector slot would take up almost one-third of a smartphone body. Hence, developers introduced more miniature HDMI connectors. Let’s understand more regarding micro HDMI vs Mini HDMI. We will also know which one you should choose.
Basics of the HDMI cable
Did you know that the standard HDMI cable also comes with a label? Yes, it’s called HDMI Type-A. The type A HDMI cable is the standard HMI cable used mostly for TVs, desktop monitors, gaming consoles, HD players, DSLR cameras, and DTH boxes. Maximum devices out there are already equipped with an HDMI connector cable.
Look at any of the devices’ HDMI cables, and you’ll find 2-row pins aligned parallelly, with 19 pins. This 19-pin system is how you spot an HDMI cable. The cable goes into a standard HDMI port and transmits high definition video and audio output and has 3 pins for each channel dedicated to video and audio.
HDMI cables have additional channels – clock channels – These channels keep the other channels synchronized. Your TV screen doesn’t look weird if the red, green, and blue channels aren’t in sync. Then, there are other advantages, too; there’s a 5-volt supply channel that supplies power to some devices. The additional channel ensures when your monitor or other devices are on or off. There’s even a versatile pin that provides utility for different functions.
The next time you’re out to buy yourself an HDMI cable, look out for HDMI 2.0. These cables support modern audio systems. They support 2-way audio transmission, which is essential for many AV controllers. If you want support for 8K videos, you will have to go for HDMI 2.1 cable. No matter which HDMI Type A cable you decide to go ahead with comes with a similar tip.
Although HDMI Type-A, Mini HDMI, and Micro HDMI all have the characteristic 19 pins of a standard HDMI cable and can transfer high-definition audio and video, the micro HDMI and Mini HDMI connectors take up less space (almost 60% and 72%, respectively) than a typical Type-A connector.
Ever wondered what happened to “B”? And is there a Type-E HDMI cable as well? Yes, there is, but it’s beyond the scope of our discussion. To give you an overview, this type of HDMI cable comes with a clip-on connector designed to avoid vibrations. HDMI Type E is usually available for automotive display panels, and hence, you don’t see it around in your household.
HDMI Type B was planned as a 29-pin configuration but was soon replaced by HDMI 1.3 standard, which performed better than HDMI Type B; hence, Type B was rendered obsolete way before it was launched.
Mini HDMI Cables
This HDMI 1.3 standard also made way for a new connector – The HDMI type C connector. Also known as mini HDMI, this was designed to the same cable standard as the HDMI Type A. The only difference was the connector. Mini HDMI connectors are almost 60% smaller than the standard Type-A connector.
How does a mini HDMI cable provide an advantage because of its smaller size, you might wonder. While most visual devices don’t struggle for size, many devices now come with mini HDMI slots. Slots for mini HDMI cables or HDMI ports can also be found on DSLR cameras and other portable devices.
Mini HDMI ports are also found, though less commonly, on some tablets, like some models of the iPad. While you get standard HDMI mini dongles along with the device, you may have to purchase your HDMI adapter in many cases.
Micro HDMI cables
HDMI type D connector, also known as micro HDMI cable, was launched a bit later and featured the same 19-pin configuration as the standard HDMI cables. This makes it compatible with the standard HDMI connector but owing to its smaller device size; you’ll still need to connect to a micro HDMI via an adapter. The most exciting feature of the micro HDMI is its “micro” structure. Micro HDMI is almost 72% smaller than the standard connector.
Around 2010, smartphones came equipped with micro HDMI ports, like the Sony Xperia and Motorola Droid. However, this has now been replaced by the universal USB Type C, which offers a universal standard for smartphone videos.
Micro HDMI ports were allowed for smartphones to make way for USB Type C HDMI cables. But it still has other applications, like digital cameras and other portable devices. These feature a micro HDMI port owing to their small size and offer a much better 4K playback than USB Type C. With continuous developments, it’s increasingly becoming more versatile. Until USB HDMI type C completely overshadows micro HDMI cables, micro HDMI cables still have their own (niche) use.
Mini HDMI vs.Micro HDMI in a nutshell
Reading through the article, you must be wondering what the difference between an HDMI mini and an HDMI micro is?
Size is the apparent differentiator between the two. Other than that, there is no significant difference between these two types of connectors.
Both can transmit video and audio signals between devices via HDMI ports.
Micro HDMI vs Mini: Which Type of HDMI Cable Should I Use?
The type of HDMI cable you should use depends on the devices you are connecting to. If you have a device with a mini HDMI port, you will need to use an HDMI mini cable to connect it to another device. If your device has a micro HDMI port, you need to use an HDMI micro cable.
Micro HDMI vs. Mini HDMI doesn’t have a lot of difference; whatever cable you decide to go ahead with, you still get a future-proof and reliable format. HDMI (till 2.0) supports 4K video. HDMI 2.1 supports 8K too.
Considering 8K TVs are in the distant future, we can expect mini and micro HDMI to be around in the future. The 19-pin design of the HDMI makes it HDMI compatible with most devices, and it’s become a universal standard. So whether you go for the standard HDMI dongle, mini HDMI connector, or the micro HDMI connector, rest assured you’re future-ready.
Now that you have read about the history of HDMI cables and know the basics of micro HDMI vs. mini HDMI let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of HDMI cables.
Advantages of HDMI cables
- Both mini and micro HDMI cables are essentially A/V cables, which means they can transmit audio and visual signals. This eliminates the need for separate audio and visual cables
- This greatly helps in reducing the ‘cable clutter’ when connecting multiple devices.
- HDMI ports are available with many modern-day smart devices like laptops and tablets, and hence they can connect to a bigger display for a better viewing experience
- Transmission without loss and high-quality video output.
- You can see sharper text on screen via both mini and micro HDMI.
- The bi-directional communication and auto configurations. External interference is deterred.
- HDMI also encrypts and authenticates data.
- Signal integrity allows for the transmission of high-definition content without compromise in quality.
- It supports various bit formats, which offer amazing color depths.
- No degradation in the quality of signal since HD signals is transmitted compression-free.
Disadvantages of HDMI cables
- HDMI 1.0 supports a greater distance of about 35 meters, whereas HDMI 2.1 supports a distance of only about 10 meters
- You may experience blank screens owing to authentication delays
- More expensive compared to analog cables
- It isn’t easy to run multiple applications that are spread over different locations
- If you have to use a DVI interface, an audio cable along with an HDMI-DVI adapter is necessary
How to Buy and Use the right HDMI cable
We hope this article on mini HDMI vs micro HDMI cables has been beneficial for you.
The good part is that if your device needs a mini HDMI cable or a micro HDMI cable to connect to an external device, it would’ve probably been included with your device already.