Last Updated on January 22, 2024 by Markeyus Franks
Since the invention of the radio, transmission of audio and video signals embarked on a journey that gradually led to where we are today. We have come a long way from the invention of the very first radio to having paper-thing televisions. If someone from even the 1970s were to be brought into modern times, they would have a hard time understanding how much everything has changed in the digital world.
With innovation in display technology, media transmission methods also had to keep up. You could only have a full HD display with an adequate method to stream media. While innovators are constantly working on newer and faster methods, the current tried, tested and loved media transmission method is HDMI. It comes standard on most modern machines, including gaming consoles, televisions and Laptops. If your computer lacks the HDMI port, there are many alternatives. Read below to discover why your computer does not have an HDMI port and what you can do about it!
What is HDMI?
As the world progressed, the demand for higher-quality video output on computers and televisions grew and became the focus of manufacturers. Display technology shifted from CRT to LCD, where quality skyrocketed, but ultimately, the VGA port on computers became the limiting factor. But manufacturers soon had the answer to that: HDMI. HDMI stands for High-Definition Media Interface. Unlike the VGA port, HDMI transmits audio and video through a single cable.
There were several benefits to the HDMI port compared to the VGA. The first and most significant benefit is the leap in video quality. While the VGA port struggled even at 1080p, with HDMI, displays today operate on resolutions as high as 8k. With the increase in display quality, HDMI offers the convenience of fewer cables as it offers audio and video transmission through the same port. Furthermore, unlike the VGA port, as HDMI was more portable, it could be found across multiple machines and became increasingly popular in laptops. HDMI is currently a very future-proof media transmission mode.
Why Your Computer May Not Have HDMI
Most modern computers come with a built-in HDMI port, even if they are desktop PCs. If your PC does not have am HDMI, here are some of the reasons why;
If you use your laptop casually, you may not be aware that manufacturers sometimes make laptops that prioritize a specific function over the other. Some computers Specialisedor specific purposes like diagnosis/programming of industrial machinery or working on embedded systems. Even if a laptop is used explicitly for software programming, the HDMI port is rarely used. Laptops designed to prioritize network connectivity, data processing, and other such tasks can get their work done even if they neglect the HDMI port.
Budget / Older Machines
If you buy a computer on a budget or a Chrome book dedicated only to web surfing and applications, then there is a chance the manufacturer did not install an HDMI port. Manufacturers omit such hardware to avoid additional manufacturing costs. If you have an older laptop or computer, it may have older video output technology like VGA or DVI. Sometimes, newer PCs also come with a DisplayPort instead of an HDMI.
As briefly described above, manufacturers prioritize compactness and design; sometimes, this means removing ports and hardware that take up much space. Even though the HDMI port is very sleek, ultra-thin laptops or mini-computers may still lack the space to include it. However, these devices offer external adapters and, at times, wireless methods to stream your media.
Alternative Media Transmission Ports
It is not the end if your computer does not have an HDMI port! There are numerous more methods that you can use to stream media on your TV or monitor. While the coaxial, component and DVI Cables are too dated to discuss, here are some methods that still exist:
The VGA Port has been the standard display port in commercial PCs since the 1980s. The VGA port was bulky in size and had a 15-pin connector. The supported display resolution was much better than most displays at the time could handle. But with time, display technology caught up and the development of 1080p full HD displays, the VGA port became obsolete.
Most people do not know about this port, and often people read past it, never knowing that DisplayPort is its name. The Display port is similar to the HDMI in looks and overall function. Despite its similar looks, do not try to insert an HDMI cable into the port. The DP is used to attach multiple displays to a computer. The HDMI runs the primary display, and secondary/tertiary displays are connected to the additional DisplayPorts. You can easily find a DP to HDMI cable if your computer only has the DP. The DisplayPort has a higher bandwidth and supports higher refresh rates than any other port.
The USB type-C is becoming increasingly popular among all media-related electronic devices. It was first introduced in Android phones as it offered faster charging speeds and a more durable and convenient design. Unlike the micro-USB and USB type-A, the type-C connector is reversible. The type-C port offers display resolutions on par with the HDMI and much more. It’s a one-stop solution, and it is way smaller in size than any mode of media transmission before it.
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
If all cable-based methods have failed you, you can still connect to most modern TVs and some display devices through wireless means like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi performs phenomenally when streaming high-bandwidth content, while Bluetooth is suitable for audio signals in a short range.
HDMI Adapters and Docking Stations
If all else fails and none of the ports work for you, all hope is not lost. If You have decided on the HDMI port, or all the ports above didn’t work for you, you can always invest in an external HDMI adapter or docking station. There is an adapter-based solution for your computer no matter what ports you already have, and a docking station is a must-have upgrade for your workspace.
You can get an adapter that plugs into your VGA port and gives you an HDMI on the other end, but that is not recommended.
If you plan on having the highest resolutions supported by your setup, you should get a USB-to-HDMI adapter. You can get a USB-A to HDMI adapter if you have a desktop computer that does not support USB-C. But if you own a newer, thinner machine, there is a chance that the USB-A had been traded off for a USB-C.
HDMI adapters come in two main types: one feeds off your USB port, and the other requires external power. Make sure to get the one that is feasible for your setup. Adapters come in diverse specifications, so ensure that your adapter has the best refresh rate, resolution and audio transmission through the HDMI port.
This upgrade can transform your laptop into a complete workstation. You don’t need a docking station on a desktop PC because it gives you more options, but it is highly recommended if you do most of your work on a laptop. Docking stations give you options to connect more than one display to your computer and offer additional USB, audio, card reader and ethernet ports.
Some laptops only come with a USB-C; a docking station is the perfect upgrade for such devices. Read the specifications of the product you buy carefully to see if it fits your needs.
Which Port is Best for You?
Choosing between display port options can be tricky, especially if you are going for a specific task. You must consider a few things before deciding which media port is best.
Your display options can be multiplied or reduced based on your hardware, which will decide your ideal media port. The first thing to consider is your output device. What are you using, a laptop or a desktop PC? If you use a computer, your options are limited to USB-C, HDMI, Wi-Fi and a VGA port if you have an older device. On desktops, you have some more flexibility and may also have the option of DisplayPort and DVI.
Once the output device is sorted, it comes to your display device. You get many options if you go with a TV, but TV sets often lack the highest refresh rates that gamers prefer. You can easily connect HDMI, VGA, or Wi-Fi. With modern gaming monitors, you can get as high as 144 Hz refresh rates. If you are going for the best gaming experience, the HDMI and DisplayPort are your go-to choices. Monitors usually offer DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA if they are older models.
You will have to narrow down your options based on what you need the display for. If you are not restricted to a VGA port by your monitor or computer, then HDMI, USB-C and DisplayPort are your options. Finally, let’s go over where each port excels so you make the right choice;
- DisplayPort: High-res display and higher refresh rate for gaming
- HDMI: Casual gaming and convenience
- USB-C: Future-proof display setup