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HP Notebook PCs - Overview of HDMI and DVI Connections for PCs

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs configured with HDMI or DVI outputs.

Using the computer as a component of a home theater

Your computer can be used to play audio and video files on external sound systems and televisions. However, it's important to determine before beginning which kinds of cables are required for each system. Check the manufacturer's specifications for each system component to determine the types of connections and formats that are supported. Not all computers will support HDMI or DVI. This document discusses two types of connections: HDMI and DVI.

NOTE: If you are experiencing audio issues over HDMI, make sure you are using the correct HDMI cable, as described below. Also ensure that your notebook has the latest audio drivers and BIOS installed. If you are using WinDVD or MediaSmart for playback, update to the latest version. For more information, see HP Notebook PCs - Resolving HDMI Display and Sound Issues .

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What is HDMI?

High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is intended to connect output devices, such as a computer, video game console, Blu-ray DVD player, or satellite or cable box with a video monitor or digital television.

HDMI allows very large streams of uncompressed audio and video digital information to be transmitted across it at high speed. This reduces the number of cables required to set up your home theater system, since both audio and video signals are handled by a single cable.

HDMI also plays a part in the enforcement of digital rights management. If your HDMI components are older (pre-2005), and your output device doesn't have HDCP (High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection) capabilities, then you may be able to view HDCP-protected content on your notebook's internal display, but not on your LCD TV or projection TV.

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What is DVI?

Digital Visual Interface (DVI) is an older connection type, intended to connect output devices, such as a computer, to an LCD display or digital television. DVI connectors and cables are capable of transmitting video information only. Therefore, DVI devices require separate cables for audio.

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What's the difference between HDMI and DVI?

HDMI and DVI are both capable of transmitting similar image quality. DVI video signals can be passed through to an HDMI connector using an adapter, and vice versa. DVI is an older type of connection that was originally designed for computer use, and as such does not support audio. DVI devices require separate cables for audio.

HDMI is fully compatible with DVI, which means that you can connect via your HDMI port to a computer monitor without any problems.

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Is HDMI backwards-compatible?

Yes. HDMI, as an evolving technology, has gone through several different versions. Each new version added different capabilities to the technology. For instance, HDMI 1.0 has a maximum screen resolution of 1920x1080p60, while HDMI 1.3b has a maximum resolution of 2560x1600p60.

HDMI 1.3b has all the capabilities of HDMI 1.0. However, if your home system is set up with an older version of HDMI, some of the newest options, such as Deep Color, may not be available on the system.

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What kinds of HDMI and DVI connectors are there?

Both connector types have three different subtypes.

HDMI
DVI
Type A. HDMI connector with 19 pins
DVI-D. Conducts digital signals.
Type B. HDMI connector with 29 pins.
DVI-A. Conducts high-res analog signals.
Type C. HDMI connector with 19 pins, but with a much smaller connector head for portable devices.
DVI-I. Integrated DVI conducts both analog and digital signals.

Adapters exist to allow you to connect different HDMI connector types to each other, and different DVI connector types to each other. Your computer and home entertainment system may have different types of connections. Check the manufacturer's specifications for each system component to determine the types of connections and formats that are supported before purchasing any cables.

Figure 1: HDMI port and connector

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What does HDCP mean in terms of HDMI and DVI?

High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) was designed to prevent the reproduction of copyrighted material. Most post-2005 high definition televisions and high definition DVD players are rated either DVI/HDCP or HDMI/HDCP. This means that they have DVI or HDMI ports for connecting to other pieces of equipment, and use HDCP to protect copyrighted content.

If your high definition monitor or television set receives any information from satellite or a high definition DVD that has been encoded for HDCP, but the HDMI or DVI cables bringing the signal through are not compatible with HDCP, signal might be downgraded when it is outputted to the screen. For instance, a high definition signal of 1080i will be automatically converted to 480i, so you won’t get the advantages of HD. In some extreme cases, you might not even see a picture at all.

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