Whenever you purchase a TV, you look at the number of connectivity port options it offers.
The best TVs available today offer three to four HDMI ports and a minimum of three USB ports.
What exactly is an HDMI port, and why do you need them?
Today, there is talk about HDMI 2.1 and so on. This article will explain the concept of HDMI 2.1 in detail.
Table of Contents
- For starters
- Initially, HDMI cables were of two types.
- What is HDMI 2.1?
- Features of HDMI 2.1
- HDMI 2.1 Vs. Other HDMI formats – At a Glance
- How is HDMI 2.1 better than HDMI 2.0b?
- Resolution – Handle up to 10K
- eARC – Enhanced Audio Return Channel – Enhance the audio experience
- Dynamic HDR – Official and reliable technology
- Variable Refresh Rate – An excellent gaming experience
- Quick Frame Transport – An excellent VR experience
- Quick Media Switching – Blank screens are history now
- Auto Low Latency Mode – Know the mode which the user prefers
- No lip-sync issues – Say goodbye to lip-sync issues
- Questions that require immediate answers
HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It is useful for transmitting signals in an uncompressed format.
In simple words, it works as an audio-video interface that comes with a cable and connector.
You can trace the inception of HDMI to somewhere around 2003 when it was released as a replacement for analogue audio-video standards as a digital one.
Initially, HDMI cables were of two types.
What is HDMI 2.1?
HDMI 2.1, officially announced on January 04, 2017, at the HDMI Forum was released on November 28, 2017.
It supports higher resolutions and refresh rates that include 4K-120Hz and 8K-120Hz.
HDMI 2.1 introduces a new Ultra-High-Speed Cable capable of handling speeds up to 48Gbps.
The most significant aspect of HDMI 2.1 is that it is backwards compatible, whereby one can use these cables with older HDMI devices.
It can also work with older cables compatible with HDMI 2.1 devices, but it would not be possible to attain 48Gbps speed without the new wires.
Features of HDMI 2.1
Before we go into the detailed aspects of HDMI 2.1 and how it will affect our viewing experience, let us examine the characteristics of HDMI 2.1 in brief.
HDMI 2.1 can support a maximum resolution of 10K at 120Hz.
It supports Dynamic HDR for specifying HDR metadata on a frame-by-frame basis.
DSC 1.2 (Display Stream Compression) is used for video formats higher than 8K with 4:2:0 chroma sub-sampling.
HDMI 2.1 supports HFR (High Frame Rate) for resolutions up from 4K to 10K and refresh rates up to 120Hz.
HDMI 2.1 features Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) for object-based audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTX:X.
It supports enhanced refresh rates like VRR (Variable Refresh Rate), QMS (Quick Media Switching), and QFT (Quick Frame Transport).
HDMI 2.1 supports Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) that allows the HDMI source device to automatically select the mode that the user would most likely prefer.
HDMI 2.1 Vs. Other HDMI formats – At a Glance
Let us now compare HDMI 2.1 with the other HDMI formats and understand how it is the latest feature available today.
The above comparison shows that HDMI 2.1 is better than HDMI 2.0b (the port usually available on the latest 4K TVs today).
We shall now proceed to discuss in detail what HDMI 2.1 offers that HDMI 2.0b does not.
How is HDMI 2.1 better than HDMI 2.0b?
HDMI 2.1, an improved version of HDMI 2.0b can handle more information, thereby capable of supporting higher video resolutions. Besides the high-resolution handling capacity, HDMI 2.1 has various other benefits.
Resolution – Handle up to 10K
HDMI 2.0b can handle 4K resolution at a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. With HDMI 2.1, you get 4K at 120Hz, 8K at 60Hz, and even up to 10K for commercial and industrial applications.
As on date, it should not affect the TV viewing experience because not much content is available at 120Hz today.
However, gamers have an advantage. The higher frame rates translate into better-looking games.
Reports say that Hollywood producers are considering migrating to 120Hz native filming to enhance the viewing experience of its audience.
eARC – Enhanced Audio Return Channel – Enhance the audio experience
ARC is a feature that allows for two-way movement of audio over an HDMI cable between a TV and an A/V receiver device like the soundbar.
ARC is available on HDMI 2.0b, as well but the limited bandwidth of HDMI 2.0b results in compressed audio that gets reduced to stereo.
With HDMI 2.1, you get enhanced ARC, thereby ensuring the flow of uncompressed audio.
Dolby Atmos is the ideal example. eARC allows Dolby Atmos to deliver its best performance using Dolby TrueHD. Atmos also works on ARC when using Dolby Digital Plus.
The advantage of eARC is that users can now connect multiple devices to their TV and have a single HDMI cable connecting to the soundbar/receiver without compromising on the audio quality.
Dynamic HDR – Official and reliable technology
HDR has now become a common feature in almost all the latest 4K TVs. It is the best in TV picture quality since 1080p HD.
People who love to go into the TV specifications would know that Dolby Vision is Dolby’s version of HDR. It is superior to other viewing formats because it is a dynamic HDR medium.
By dynamic, we mean that Dolby Vision changes the settings of an image as the image changes, thereby resulting in a more vibrant picture.
The drawback of Dolby Vision is that it is a proprietary technology, whereby the electronics manufacturer has to pay licensing fees to use it.
Not every TV manufacturer does that, as it could jack up the TV price.
However, HDMI 2.1 supports a dynamic version of HDR10, known as HDR10+, to deliver an exciting viewing experience.
Now, HDR10+ is also possible using HDMI 2.0b, but it is not a supported technology when done over HDMI 2.0b. On the other hand, HDMI 2.1 makes it official, and thereby reliable.
Variable Refresh Rate – An excellent gaming experience
Quick Frame Transport – An excellent VR experience
As the name suggests, this feature makes the transfer of a video frame from the source to the display (TV or VR headset) faster.
Gamers will love this feature as it reduces the time lag. VR users will also benefit because of the reduced time between the movements and the images presented through the VR goggles.
Quick Media Switching – Blank screens are history now
Have you ever experienced the blank screen when you switch between different sources or from games to streaming apps? HDMI 2.1 makes this vanish forever with its Quick Media Switching feature.
Auto Low Latency Mode – Know the mode which the user prefers
No lip-sync issues – Say goodbye to lip-sync issues
Have you noticed that there are usually minor time lags between the audio and the video processing when you use a separate receiver or soundbar?
At times, you experience a mismatch in the sound and the video output. HDMI 2.1 eliminates this delay in video and audio syncing. Your gaming consoles and Blu-ray players require the syncing to be perfect. HDMI 2.1 makes it possible.
Questions that require immediate answers
We have now seen the features of HDMI 2.1 and compared it with the latest HDMI 2.0b that is available today.
When you have such advanced features at your disposal, it raised many questions that require serious introspection. Let us now discuss these issues one by one.