New USB-C-to-HDMI spec will enable adapter-free display hookups for MacBooks

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware
The company responsible for licensing the HDMI specification on Thursday introduced the "HDMI Alternate Mode" for USB-C, which should allow devices like Apple's 12-inch MacBook to connect displays without the help of an adapter.




Companies will have to manufacture specific USB-C-to-HDMI cables supporting the HDMI 1.4b standard, but these should support 4K resolutions on monitors, TVs, and projectors, said HDMI Licensing LLC. Previously 12-inch MacBooks have had to use an adapter to connect to any external display using HDMI.

When connecting to 4K screens, moreover, MacBooks have been limited to a 30-hertz refresh rate, half what most displays are capable of.

While 12-inch MacBooks aren't really powerful enough to push 4K content, the situation could change later this fall. Apple is expected to launch updated iMac, MacBook Pro, and/or MacBook Air models, all of which may support USB-C and be better equipped for 4K video. The company is also said to be building a new 5K display in cooperation with LG, though whether it will support USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, or both is unknown.

The previous 27-inch Thunderbolt Display was discontinued in June without a replacement. Even up to that point it was still priced at $999, despite being limited to 2560-by-1440 resolution and eclipsed by cheaper third-party monitors supporting 4K.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 20
    Um, this is USB-C connector to HDMI connector so, isn't this technically still an adapter since it adapts USB to HDMI? No adapter would mean HDMI -> HDMI cables. Not really any different than the other DP->HDMI adapter cables sold (except this uses USB).
    elijahgDeelronsockrolid
  • Reply 2 of 20
    ppartekim said:
    Um, this is USB-C connector to HDMI connector so, isn't this technically still an adapter since it adapts USB to HDMI? No adapter would mean HDMI -> HDMI cables. Not really any different than the other DP->HDMI adapter cables sold (except this uses USB).

    An adapter would mean another device in the way facilitating the connection. Since it is port to port, then it is truly adapter-less. Both ends of the cable don't have to be the same connector type.
    nolamacguydysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 20
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,599member
    It's still an adapter. Just like DVI and HDMI signalling are electrically identical, but the ports aren't. So you need something to convert the DVI connector to HDMI, commonly known as an adapter. 

    The interesting point here is USB-C's port being usable for 3 different standards, namely HDMI, USB and Thunderbolt. 
    dysamoria
  • Reply 4 of 20
    ppartekim said:
    Um, this is USB-C connector to HDMI connector so, isn't this technically still an adapter since it adapts USB to HDMI? No adapter would mean HDMI -> HDMI cables. Not really any different than the other DP->HDMI adapter cables sold (except this uses USB).
    Um... USB-C - HDMI(female) + HDMI Cable = adapter + cable ; USB-C - HDMI(plug) = cable. Let's think about the socket of power cord for different countries
    edited September 2016
  • Reply 5 of 20
    Well, if you're going to get technical, then yeah, it's an adapter since it converts the electrical signaling to be compatible at the other end. The cabling does it internally. But, to the general public, an adapter is something they need to get to make sure one cable can plug into a port. That's my take on the marketing of this anyway. All you need is the cable, so, no adapter.
    nolamacguydysamoria
  • Reply 6 of 20
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,799member
    Well, if you're going to get technical, then yeah, it's an adapter since it converts the electrical signaling to be compatible at the other end. The cabling does it internally. But, to the general public, an adapter is something they need to get to make sure one cable can plug into a port. That's my take on the marketing of this anyway. All you need is the cable, so, no adapter.
    Yeah it is one less connection, however it is a specialized cable that has only one use, not like a standard HDMI cable that you might already have, but since the adapter costs $79 the cable will probably be cheaper. Though the adapter does offer USB-C passthrough and regular USB.
  • Reply 7 of 20
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,789member
    Agree with ppartekim.  It's an "adapter cable."
    It's just not a "dongle" that adapts one end of a cable.
    mattinozdysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 20
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    Well, if you're going to get technical...
    This is a technical forum...or at least it used to be. :D

    I'm not certain, but I think there are fewer pins available via USB-C Alt Mode than are in an HDMI cable. Wouldn't this suggest that in the cable itself there is some switching going on and it's not just a simple passive pass-though of the signal from one pin layout (USB-C) to another (HDMI)? Of course, this is assuming that all of the HDMI pins are needed for this application. If only a subset are needed and that number is low enough, perhaps it could be handled by a direct mapping to the available Alt Mode pins.

    Regardless, considering that you need to purchase a specialized cable that is only useful for one thing, I'd call that an adapter. If I created a device that was USB-C to HDMI female and then plugged in a standard HDMI cable to make the connection, wouldn't you call that device an adapter?


  • Reply 9 of 20
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,156member


    The company is also said to be building a new 5K display in cooperation with LG, though whether it will support USB-C, Thunderbolt 3, or both is unknown.
    Pretty sure if it supports Thunderbolt 3 that means it automatically supports USB-C as well, since that's part of the TB3 spec. 
  • Reply 10 of 20
    Are there electronics in the middle facilitating the change from one format to the next? Is it short? Adaptor. Is it a cable with one plug on one end and a different plug on the other? Cable.

    I mean, a typical micro-USB cable has different plugs on each end, but are still considered cables. TB-to-EN or TB-to-FW, on the other hand, are adaptors.
  • Reply 11 of 20
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    volcan said:
    Well, if you're going to get technical, then yeah, it's an adapter since it converts the electrical signaling to be compatible at the other end. The cabling does it internally. But, to the general public, an adapter is something they need to get to make sure one cable can plug into a port. That's my take on the marketing of this anyway. All you need is the cable, so, no adapter.
    Yeah it is one less connection, however it is a specialized cable that has only one use, not like a standard HDMI cable that you might already have, but since the adapter costs $79 the cable will probably be cheaper. Though the adapter does offer USB-C passthrough and regular USB.
    Isn't the point of this ultimately to replace HDMI connector with USB-C, such that the next TV you buy will have a direct USB-C connection?

    Is this ultimately why the TV 4 has a USB-C connection on the back? Can we expect the TV 5 to drop the HDMI connecter altogether? 
  • Reply 12 of 20
    Well, if you're going to get technical, then yeah, it's an adapter since it converts the electrical signaling to be compatible at the other end. 

    <snip>
     No, it does not convert, it just connects. 

    This is just a cable but with different connectors on each end. Take a regular HDMI cable, cut off one end and then solder on a USB-C connector. Was a cable, still a cable. 

    This is native HDMI transmitted over a cable,  no adapting or converting of signals required. 
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 13 of 20
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,478member
    hmlongco said:
    Are there electronics in the middle facilitating the change from one format to the next? Is it short? Adaptor. Is it a cable with one plug on one end and a different plug on the other? Cable.
    What about a short cable with different plugs on either end?  What about a long cable which has electronics at one end to change the format?

    In my thinking, a cable is a passive connector between two ports.  It might change the configuration of the wires/pins between the two ports, but it doesn't perform any conversion on the signal sent over those wires.  An adapter performs some type of conversion on the signal.  The length and connector ends have nothing to do with it, only the signal conversion or lack thereof.

  • Reply 14 of 20
    netroxnetrox Posts: 1,170member
    Well, if you're going to get technical, then yeah, it's an adapter since it converts the electrical signaling to be compatible at the other end. The cabling does it internally. But, to the general public, an adapter is something they need to get to make sure one cable can plug into a port. That's my take on the marketing of this anyway. All you need is the cable, so, no adapter.
    Did you pay attention to the figure image? It said: No Adapter. No Converter. So, there's no conversion.
  • Reply 15 of 20
    When connecting to 4K screens, moreover, MacBooks have been limited to a 30-hertz refresh rate, half what most displays are capable of.  While 12-inch MacBooks aren't really powerful enough to push 4K content...
    Actually, a software hack has been released that allows [email protected] output on a MacBook; turns out that Apple engineers, apparently, had to decide between [email protected] with simultaneous USB 2 speeds, or [email protected] with simultaneous USB 3.1 (5Gbps), and went with the latter for the single USB-C port.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/threads/4k-at-60hz-on-12-rmb-hack-monitors-cables-adapters-that-work.1974167/



  • Reply 16 of 20
    WHERE IS THE POWER???

    Sorry for shouting but this is beyond a joke, no one wants to plug in an external monitor and not have power.
  • Reply 17 of 20
    mattinozmattinoz Posts: 1,851member
    WHERE IS THE POWER???

    Sorry for shouting but this is beyond a joke, no one wants to plug in an external monitor and not have power.
    It would seem like the smartest way to go would be for the TV and monitors to start adding USB-c ports.
    They have a power supply and commonly an internet connection they could share.

    Not just for hooking a laptop but set-top boxes could be reduced to the USB dongles on the back of the TV with on need for power.
  • Reply 18 of 20
    Of course it still needs companies to use this spec. We are at DisplayPort 1.4 but Intel is only using 1.2 in their newest chipsets...
  • Reply 19 of 20
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,068member
    I can't wait for the switch to USB-C.   It will probably take a few years to get rid of old MicroUSB cable, but at least cell phones and computers are coming out now with USB-TypeC.

    Although at this point I don't know how I feel about Apple hanging on to the lightning connection.   It may be a little bit smaller but doesn't seem to do as much as USB type C.
  • Reply 20 of 20
    Whether it's an adopter or pin-to-pin USB-C-to-HDMI cable, what matters is that there should be another 'connector' instead of just inserting HDMI cable.
    Probably the 'cable' is cheaper than an 'adopter', people should buy one.
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