Late last week the HDMI Licensing organisation announced that it is releasing a new standard to utilise compact reversible USB Type-C connections to connect to HDMI displays. The so called HDMI Alt Mode requires no protocol and connector adapters or dongles, just a simple cable is required. Previous USB Type-C 'Alt Modes' include; DisplayPort, MHL, and Thunderbolt.
The HDMI organisation gushes that the new standard "enables two of the most popular solutions for connectivity to come together". Indeed it will allow many smartphones, tablets, cameras, and PC products to output to HDMI displays – manufacturers willing. HDMI is a popular standard with 290 million displays equipped with the interface expected to ship before the year is out. The HDMI Licensing organisation works with 1,600 adopters worldwide.
HDMI Alt Mode offers the full HDMI 1.4b feature set but not the expanded new HDMI 2.0b features (like HDR). Ultimately it's up to manufacturers to decide if their devices support HDMI Alt Mode or which features they implement. The full range of features it will be possible to implement are as follows:
- Resolutions up to 4K
- Surround sound
- Audio Return Channel (ARC)
- 3D (4K and HD)
- HDMI Ethernet Channel (HEC)
- Consumer Electronic Control (CEC)
- Deep Colour, x.v.Colour, and content types
- High Bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP 1.4 and HDCP 2.2)
USB Type-C to HDMI cables will start to appear when the first products supporting the new standard launch. It is estimated that the first new products supporting HDMI Alt Mode will launch at CES 2017 – early next year.