What HDMI CEC

One remote for all your equipment — what is HDMI CEC is and how to connect it. You have a whole set of media equipment at home, from a TV to a couple of players — then you are familiar with the situation with finding the right remote control. In fact, the solution to this problem is quite simple and you may not even have to buy anything extra. All thanks to HDMI CEC technology.

HDMI CEC — What It Is and How It Works

Many are already familiar with the acronym HDMI, which stands for an interface used to transmit data between various devices. Most people are familiar with HDMI because of the way monitors are connected to PCs and consoles, DVD players are connected to TVs, and so on. However, not many people know that the standard also offers some additional features, which include CEC.

The HDMI-CEC function is designed to control AV devices with a single remote control. That is, when you turn on the TV with the remote control, the STB turns on automatically, and vice versa, when you turn off the TV, the STB turns off. For this technology to work, devices must be connected via HDMI cable. This is where the signal is transmitted.

The acronym stands for Consumer Electronics Control — a bi-directional bus that uses the AV.Link protocol to control devices remotely. Through the HDMI cable, you can transmit not only the video stream and sound, but also certain control commands, which we will talk about a little later.

How this is implemented — a standard 19-pin HDMI cable already has everything you need. By studying the pinout, you can notice that the design has a pin (13) for CEC commands, and in all current connectors — Type A, C and D.

Pinout of hdmi connector

CEC technology allows devices connected via HDMI to communicate with each other. This is why, in most cases, you can use only one remote control to control multiple multimedia devices.

How it works — all components in the system are assigned addresses. By default, the display device (usually a TV) gets a base address of 0.0.0.0 and a logical address of 0. Then the TV sends a signal through all the HDMI interfaces and waits for a response. Devices found are assigned a physical address such as 1.0.0.0, 2.0.0.0, and so on depending on the port number. The logical address is assigned according to the type of gadget (DVD, STB, AV, etc.). The technology supports multi-layer hierarchy, so a second level tech will get 1.1.0.0, 1.2.0.0, and so on. If a device does not support CEC, it will not receive a logical address and will not be counted.

What is HDMI CEC

Once the polling is done, the TV will list all available HDMI CEC enabled devices. The standard allows 15 addresses to be distributed this way, but not all of them are used to connect devices.

Logical addressType
0TV
1Recording device 1
2Recording device 2
3Tuner 1
4Playback device 1
5Audio system (AV receiver or soundbar)
6Tuner 2
7Tuner 3
8Playback device 2
9Recording device 3
10Tuner 4
11Reproducing device 3
12Reserved
13Reserved
14Free use
15Broadcast mode

So you cannot control more than three playback devices with CEC or connect more than four gadgets with tuner function. There are other limitations as well, for example, if the system has identified a device as a playback device, the recorder functions will not be available for it, even if they are supported at the hardware level. Accordingly, the available functionality depends on which identifier (logical address) has been assigned to the gadget.

How to Use HDMI CEC — Requirements and Functionality

To use HDMI CEC, you must first check the connector specifications on your devices. The CEC function works on all versions of HDMI from 1.0 to 2.1, but starting with the 1.3a standard, the number of supported commands has been expanded. For example, it is now possible to control the sound level for AV receivers. That is why it always makes sense to use as new an interface as possible.

Since the controlling device is actually the TV, it should be declared as having HDMI CEC support. However, this is where the main difficulty arises, because cunning marketers call this technology by name to make their products unique. To make it easier for you to navigate, you can study this table:

  1. Vizio: CEC
  2. Sony: BRAVIA Link, BRAVIA Sync, Control for HDMI
  3. LG: SimpLink
  4. Samsung: Anynet+
  5. Panasonic: VIERA Link, HDAVI Control, EZ-Sync
  6. Sharp: Aquos Link
  7. Toshiba: CE-Link, Regza Link
  8. Philips: EasyLink
  9. Insignia: INlink
  10. Pioneer: Kuro Link
  11. Mitsubishi: NetCommand, Realink
  12. Thomson: T-Link
  13. Roku: 1-Touch Play
  14. AOC: E-link
  15. Funai, Sylvania, Emerson, Magnavox, Philips: Fun-Link
  16. Hitachi: HDMI-CEC

If your TV, media player, or other gadget has the above name in its specifications, it means it supports HDMI CEC. The Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, PS4, PS5, and Xbox One X consoles are also listed.

To use CEC commands, both devices (controlling and controlled) must support the technology. Despite the common standard, sometimes not all declared commands work if the equipment is from different brands.

The HDMI CEC specification specifies more than 50 different commands, including:

  • turning appliances on and off together, going to sleep;
  • Control of individual devices with one remote control: playback, sound, file switching, activation of individual modes, etc;
  • selection of audio/video output, possibility of automatic switching when changing remote control to controller and vice versa;
  • selection of menu items and the like.

In fact, you will be limited to the possibilities of your remote control, even if the technique supports the full list of CEC commands.

How to Enable HDMI CEC

To operate a single remote compatible CEC device, you need to take two basic steps. The first is to activate HDMI CEC directly on the TV. Look in General Settings, under “Connections”, “Synchronization” or “HDMI Settings”.

Resolving Connection Problems

Now you can control a whole set of equipment connected via HDMI CEC with a single remote control. You can use any remote control, either from a TV set or from a TV set-top box. The only problem is that not all commands can work due to different brands. This problem is solved with the HDMI 2.1 standard. The developers declare that regardless of the manufacturer, the entire list of commands should be perceived correctly, provided that all equipment is connected through version 2.1.

What do I do if HDMI CEC does not work even though all devices are documented to support it? There are several steps you can try:

  • Make sure you have the latest version of the software. Developers often fix compatibility bugs in new updates.
  • Make sure that the connector you are using supports CEC. It happens that some HDMI connectors are not CEC capable on a software level.
  • Try connecting your device directly to the TV. This applies to players that can connect through a receiver.
  • Make sure you have a certified cable. Fake HDMI can have fewer cores, causing pin 13 not to engage and CEC not to work.

With many media devices in your home, HDMI CEC is a great way to control everything with one remote control. Setup is a couple of clicks and the technology is supported by most brands of TVs, media players, and receivers.

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