HDMI Output vs Input. Differences Explained (2023)

High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) is a technology that enhances video and audio transmission between various devices. It’s capable of handling large amounts of data and processing them faster. However, some users are curious about HDMI output vs input.

Difference Between HDMI Output and Input?

Knowing the difference between HDMI in vs out is essential when setting up media devices in your home. This guide will show you the meaning of HDMI input and output and the main differences between HDMI output vs input on popular devices.

Read this guide to learn more.


Table of Contents

What is HDMI Input?

The HDMI ports that are built-in on input devices are called HDMI input. It is typically placed at the back or sides of the device, along with other input ports. HDMI inputs are designed to handle one end of an HDMI cable.

Video and audio signals sent by HDMI output devices, like Blu-ray players, are transmitted to receiver devices, such as speakers and soundbars, through HDMI input ports. However, devices like computers and laptops don’t usually have HDMI inputs to avoid various issues, like HDCP protection (a copy-protection scheme).


What is HDMI Output?

Output devices like DVD or Blu-ray players usually have an HDMI output port. These ports are designed to send audio and/or video signals into HDMI inputs of digital devices, which then receive and process these signals.


HDMI Input vs Output on Popular Devices

Various popular devices utilize HDMI differently. Here’s how HDMI is being used on devices like laptops, PCs, monitors, and TVs:


On Laptops

Almost all laptops in the market use HDMI output ports. It’s extremely rare to see a laptop brand that uses HDMI as an input. This is due to a rule of thumb: laptops can’t receive video and audio signals from any device except for the motherboard.

If you’re planning to use your laptop as an input device via its HDMI output port, you’ll need to use a laptop HDMI input adapter. Fortunately, these devices are widely available online or in tech stores.


On TVs

The latest TVs will have at least three HDMI ports, whereas the other two can be used for other display interfaces. Below are the most common HDMI ports that you’ll see on TVs:

  • HDMI (DVI) – Can receive HDMI and Digital Visual Interface (DVI) signals
  • HDMI Only – Exclusively receives HDMI signals
  • HDMI (ARC) – Used to send video and audio signals to surround sound receivers or home theater devices.


On Computers

On PCs, it will have an HDMI output port once the HDMI system is connected to the computer’s motherboard or graphics card. However, if your computer’s using a video capture card for HDMI, it will have an HDMI input port.


On Monitors

Since monitors are commonly used as input devices, you’ll only see an HDMI input port for receiving video signals. Some monitors with built-in speakers will receive a mix of audio and video signals via their HDMI input port.


Can I Use HDMI Input as Output?

No. Since these ports are designed differently, you can only use them interchangeably with an adapter or an HDMI hub. When lacking HDMI ports on devices like laptops, it’s ideal to use an HDMI hub since it can host many devices and will have both input and output ports.


Final Thoughts

Knowing the difference between HDMI output vs input is handy if you’re using different media devices in your home. This helps to set up your devices easier and to avoid potential damage to your device. In a nutshell, HDMI outputs transmit audio and video signals, while HDMI inputs receive them.

Hopefully, this guide helps you know more about the differences between HDMI output and input.