HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. HDMI was specifically designed to replace analog alternatives in order to be able to transmit uncompressed digital data. The need for HDMI was recognized in the early years of the 21st century as the projected fast growth of new audio and video sources. HDMI was intended to get rid of a range of different cable formats including RF, coaxial cable and SCART and a number of others.
By December 2002 the first version of HDMI 1.0 came emerged after collaboration work by its founders Philips, Hitachi, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Silicon Image, Toshiba, Sony and Thomson. Clearly with such a powerful consortium of backers HDMI was sure to make an impact, and naturally it did. HDMI was perfectly suitable for connecting set top boxes, the growing range of satellite TV and cable TV decoders. But in addition to this, HDMI was the ideal solution for video game consoles including the Xbox 360, Playstation 1 and 2. As the developers of both the TVs and the devices to be attached, the consortium could be said to have had a vested interest at both ends of the connection.
As is often the case, HDMI did not have the digital connection market to itself; HDMI was launched with the intention of taking the market from DVI Digital Visual Interface. Experts, even today are divided which format is better HDMI or DVI? As of today the camps are divided as to which is better. Tests have shown that the video image quality of DVI and HDMI is practically identical. However, there is a key difference that encouraged the manufacturers of HDMI to believe their product would be more successful. This is the fact that HDMI carries audio as well as video, whereas DVI can only carry video. In the DHMI 1.0 the only restriction was that DVD audio was not supported.
Although the connectors are different between DVI and HDMI, the system that is used for encoding is identical and for this reason it is possible to connect a DVI device with a HDMI device by using a physical convertor cable, no convertor box is required at all. In this light it is also important to point out that HDMI and DVI cables and connections do not necessarily mean that they will provide better content quality than analog. Analog has a far greater range for connection and the connection can be as distant as 200 feet. However, the key element that dictates the content quality is the quality of the equipment that is attached.