The current trend of making devices thinner means companies are getting rid of I/O ports. Apple is notorious for removing I/O ports – they provided only a single port with 2015 Macbook – and the trend may continue with the launch of iPhone sans a 3.5 mm audio jack. This trend has forced developers of such I/O ports to make them multi-purpose, which resulted in Type-C. While previous versions of USB had micro and mini versions, Type-C has none. This acts as input as well as output port with ability of handling high power and high-speed data sync. Now, the USB Type-C will also support video output via HDMI Alternate Mode. No adapter, no converter, no problem says the official HDMI site.
What is Alternate Mode on USB Type-C
An Alternate Mode dedicates some of the physical wires in the USB Type-C cable for direct device-to-host transmission of alternate data protocols. The four high-speed lanes, two sideband pins, two non-SuperSpeed data pins and one configuration pin can be used for alternate mode transmission.
So far, under this alternate mode, USB Type-C supports DisplayPort, MHL and Thunderbolt.
HDMI Alternate Mode | What this means
A USB Type-C to HDMI adapter costs about Rs. 2000 ($30). Now,you won’t need any such adapters to connect a device to HDMI enabled displays. Nearly every flat TV in the last decade had HDMI support. 290 million devices with HDMI will ship in 2016, and this development ensures compatibility with all of them.
HDMI Alternate Mode will support the full range of HDMI 1.4b features. In addition to 4K, it will also support ARC, 3D, HDMI Ethernet Channel, and Consumer Electronic Control. The cable will use the USB Type-C connector on the source side and any HDMI connector on the display side. HDMI Alt Mode enables an easy connection via a simple USB Type-C to HDMI cable.
All said and done, it’s still up to the device manufacturer to implement the Alt Mode. Since this is a recent development, such Type-C ports might not be common at least for a few months. It won’t be limited to just smartphones. Any device with Type-C port can have HDMI support.