What Is HDMI-CEC?

HDMI-CEC provides an alternate control option for your home theater system

HDMI is an audio/video interface used for transmitting data from source device to a display. HDMI-CEC is an optional feature found on many HDMI-compatible devices that allows you to control multiple HDMI devices from one remote, such as a TV remote. The "CEC" in HDMI-CEC stands for Consumer Electronics Control.

What Is HDMI-CEC?

Advantages
  • Use your TV remote to control some features of devices that are connected to your TV via HDMI, reducing the need for a universal remote control.

  • The same HDMI cables that connect your audio and video components can be used as a conduit for controlling those devices.

Disadvantages
  • CEC functionality is not required to be included on all HDMI-equipped devices.

  • On devices that include HDMI-CEC, feature access is not always consistent when using mixed-brand components.

  • Not as comprehensive control as using the device's included remote or a universal remote.

  • In some cases, HDMI-CEC must be activated in order for HDMI-ARC to also work.

  • Sometimes HDMI-CEC will activate or turn-off devices when you don't want it to.

Love it or hate it, HDMI is the main connection standard used in the AV environment. Along with HDMI-ARC, HDMI-CEC is another feature of HDMI that some users may not know about. HDMI-CEC may already be enabled on a device you already own. (Although you may need to activate it manually via the settings menu.)

Features

HDMI-CEC provides several capabilities, which are listed below. However, not all features listed here are accessible on all HDMI-CEC enabled products. Feature compatibility between brands often varies.

  • Remote Control Pass-Through: This allows remote control commands to be passed through to other devices within a system. For example, you can use your TV remote to control some of the functions of other devices that are connected to your TV using HDMI.
  • One-Touch Play: When you start playback on your source device, it will switch the TV to the HDMI input that the device is connected to. For example, when you insert a disc into your Blu-ray Disc player and press play, One-Touch Play instructs the TV to automatically switch to the HDMI input that the Blu-ray player is connected to.
  • Routing Control: You can manually control the input source selection. For example, when using a TV remote, you can switch the input selections on a connected home theater receiver.
  • Deck Control: This allows users, via a TV remote, to control playback features, such as Play, Pause, Rewind, Fast Forward on a compatible HDMI-connected Blu-ray/Ultra HD Blu-ray disc player, media streamer, or cable/satellite box.
  • One-Touch Record: If you have an HDMI-CEC enabled DVR or DVD recorder, you can start the recording process when you see a program of interest on your TV screen.
  • Timer Programming: You can use an electronic program guide (EPG), which may be included with your TV or cable/satellite box, to set the timer on compatible DVD Recorders or DVRs.
  • System Audio Control: This allows you to control volume levels (or other compatible audio settings) of an HDMI-CEC equipped home theater receiver or AV preamp/processor using the TV remote.
  • Device Menu Control: This allows your TV to control the menu system of other devices. For example, you may be able to use your TV remote to navigate the menu settings on a connected source device, such as a Blu-ray Disc player, media streamer, or DVR.
  • System Standby: This allows you to place several devices in standby mode using one remote control. With your TV remote, you can switch to each input that your source devices are connected to and toggle them in and out of standby mode as desired.

Other Names

Samsung Anynet+ HDMI-CEC Setup Option in TV Menu screenshot

One confusing thing about HDMI-CEC is that it isn't always obvious whether a device includes it. The feature is often referred to with a brand-specific name. To clear up the confusion, the following is a list of what several TV and home theater manufacturers call HDMI-CEC:

  • Anthem: CEC Control
  • Denon: CEC or HDMI Control
  • Funai, Emerson, Magnavox, Sylvania, and some Philips: Fun-Link
  • Hitachi: HDMI-CEC
  • Insignia: InLink
  • LG: SimpLink
  • Mitsubishi: NetCommand
  • Onkyo: RIHD
  • Panasonic: Viera Link, HDAVI Control, EZ-Sync
  • Philips: EasyLink
  • Pioneer: Kuro Link
  • Samsung: Anynet, Anynet+
  • Sharp: Aquos Link
  • Sony: Bravia Sync, Bravia Link
  • Toshiba: Regza Link, CE-Link
  • Vizio: CEC

There are additional brands not listed, and labels may change over time.

The Bottom Line

In addition to connectivity, HDMI-CEC allows some control of multiple devices without need for a universal remote or other control system.

However, HDMI-CEC is not as comprehensive as many universal remote control systems, as it can only be used with HDMI-connected devices, and there is some feature inconsistency between product brands. Also, as noted, the feature can sometimes unintentionally turn devices on or off. On the other hand, you may find it more convenient than using remote control apps available for smartphones and tablets.

HDMI-CEC may not be as "glamorous" as Alexa or Google Assistant—control options that a growing number of product brands are offering. Virtual assistants like these may end up superseding current control options.

If you have HDMI-connected devices in your home theater setup, check for HDMI-CEC capability and see if any of its available control features work for you.