This HDMI/DisplayPort Combo Will Fix All Your Problems

This HDMI/DisplayPort Combo Will Fix All Your Problems

DisplayPort and HDMI Ports are often at odds. While both can be used through a USB-C connector and conversion, the ports are simply not compatible, despite achieving similar functions. It’s an annoyance that, let’s be honest, can be solved with an approx $20 cable purchase, but what if the connectors shared a port? Well… What if I told you such a thing exists?

Hackaday brought this to my attention, sharing a video from YouTuber Jon Bringus about a computer with a port labelled DP/HDMI. The port itself looks more like a DisplayPort at first glance, but then he goes ahead and crams a HDMI port in there… And as he says, it just works.

I cannot begin to express just how satisfied I was to see this actually happen on camera. To state the obvious – this isn’t meant to happen! The ports are physically extremely different, both in terms of connector and signal type, and yet this computer just does it.

For context about the computer, it’s apparently a 2013-era Xi3 X7A mini PC, a Steam Machine prototype, back when Valve was first experimenting with the traditional Windows PC alternative.

In the scenario that Valve was drafting for Steam Machines at the time (involving a lightweight PC that can be moved from PC and living room environments), this combo port would have been exceptionally handy. In those situations, you would most certainly be moving between DisplayPort and HDMI often, although today, HDMI cables have come a long way, and perhaps you’d just default to that for both setups. Naturally, the Steam Machine concept is dead now (though you can still download the OS online), and has all but been replaced by the Steam Deck.

Obviously a HDMI/DisplayPort combo would involve greater complexity internally for the computer, and all things considered, the closed-source nature of HDMI, and the open-source nature of DisplayPort, indicates to me that this probably wouldn’t have gone too far had it been present on more computers. Reviews of the device at the time do mention the combination port, but it’s a shame it hasn’t really gone anywhere.

One of the comments on Hackaday’s article indicates that users would need to be extremely careful with the port. “I’ve seen this dual interface single port in the wild. The version I saw had a Guide Pin that keeps the HDMI shifted over so the conductors align. I had to bend the pin back upright/straight because a DP cable bent it over. Subsequently, the HDMI was out of alignment,” the reader said.

Other comments indicated that it can still be found on some systems, but in my years I’ve never seen one in the wild. I’m intrigued. I don’t know if I need this (I’m concerned about refresh rate and resolution compatibility), but I want it.

Image: iStock

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