What is HDMI 2.1?
The HDMI is a digital interface that was designed to connect high-definition multimedia devices, such as TV sets with inbuilt devices like DVD players. The latest version is HDMI 2.1.
The new HDMI 2.1 specification will be backward compatible with older versions of the HDMI, ie it will still work when plugged into older HDMI interfaces.
It will also go beyond what earlier standards are capable of delivering in terms of 4K Ultra-HD video with a refresh rate of 120Hz for an even better viewing experience, higher resolutions including 8K, and many more features that have not very popular yet but promise to revolutionize our daily lives soon enough.
Why do you need HDMI?
The HDMI has become the standard for high-definition multimedia equipment, allowing an easy connection of video sources like DVD players or set-top boxes to TV sets. The latest version of the specification promises to allow home entertainment systems to get even better by offering higher resolutions and more simultaneous data streams than ever before.
What is new with HDMI 2.1?
- Specification grade cable available that can handle up to 48Gbps, twice that of current High-Speed cables
- Resolutions 8K60Hz (50Hz) 10K (100Hz) 12-bit color (30/36/48 bit color) Lossless programmable audio formats Content type switching HDR Dynamic HDR metadata throughout pass band Instant HDR - Device sees the source as it truly is Device controller sees content as it truly is
- Dynamic HDR supports the dynamic metadata in the frame by frame to adjust picture quality and optimize bandwidth
- Simultaneous multi-streaming (SMS) for multiple 4K streams over a single cable. So if you want to watch/record 4 programs at once on different devices, no problem.
- Up to 48Gbps instead of 18Gbps like in HDMI 2.0a and 2.0b versions
- Better support for Remote Phy, nonrealtime 12-bit video, or color depth
- Deep Color modes such as DNxHR 444 and DNxHD 444 supported
- eARC added with full audio capability including lossless formats such as TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio
What is more promising about HDMI 2.1?
Although this technology has been around for some years now, HDMI does not seem to have reached a mature stage yet. The new version aims at pushing the envelope even further with higher resolution video and audio, better color reproduction, and the throughput of very large amounts of data over a single cable. In addition, several new features will be introduced that aim at making our lives easier in one way or another. What kind of changes are we looking at?
- Better video quality with high dynamic range and more colors
- Ultra HD resolutions up to 10K, 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz
- Up to 32 audio channels
What is the status of HDMI 2.1?
The new specification has been finalized but it will take some time before we can expect devices that support it.
Will my existing video equipment still work with HDMI 2.1?
Yes - all previous versions of HDMI (pre 1.0a) are supported by version 2.1 and any compatible device should be able to interface seamlessly with a TV or other multimedia equipment implementing this technology on its input/output ports.
Do all TVs and computers have HDMI 2.1?
No - this technology is being rolled out by manufacturers gradually so it may be the case that you do not have equipment supporting HDMI 2.1 yet, but should in a short time.
Will I need new cables?
This will depend on the type of equipment you are using and whether it has implemented the latest version or not. Generally speaking, all passive or standard speed (Category 1) High-Speed HDMI Cables will still work with the new specification since it only doubles throughput speeds, which are handled automatically by existing devices without needing replacement cables.
However, active high speed (Category 2) High-Speed HDMI Cables are recommended for longer runs at higher resolutions or to handle higher data transfer speeds demanded by things like 8K video content.
Do I need new TVs?
Not necessarily - manufacturers are rolling out HDMI 2.1 compatible TV sets in stages so there is no rush to replace perfectly functional equipment just yet unless you want the latest features and functionality of course!
HDMI 2.1 TV List
Here are 20 TVs that are confirmed to provide some level of HDMI 2.1 support (further updates will be posted as they become available):
- LG Signature OLED TV R8 series (The Wall) - Announced at CES 2019, this is the first TV with 8K resolution and supports HDR10+. It has three HDMI ports, two USB ports an Ethernet socket supporting Audio Return Channel (ARC), deep color up to 12-bit, full speed cable for 10Gbps Ethernet connection, dynamic HDR metadata using standard HDR10 format that adjusts brightness dynamically based on picture content.
- Samsung Q900R QLED 8K TV - Official announcement by the manufacturer was made during CES 2011. Model number indicates it should have four HDMI ports supporting HDMI 2.1, high dynamic range (HDR), wide color gamut for 10-bit color depth, and full-speed Ethernet connection.
- Sharp Aquos R2 8K TV - This is another one announced at CES 2019 with support for Dolby Vision HDR, HDMI 2.0b connections, Amazon Alexa integration, and more that are not yet confirmed to be compatible with HDMI 2.1 specification although it seems very likely given the manufacturer's promises.
- LG Z9 OLED Master 9 Series - Announced at IFA 2019 this model includes HDMI 2.1 ports or not so it may simply be an updated design of LG Signature OLED TV R8 series with HDMI 2.1 capable back panel connectors, but only time will tell.
- Sony Z9F Master 9 series - manufactured by Sony at IFA 2019, this model is very similar to LG's offering with the same set of features including HDMI 2.1 ports or not. Hints are there are some significant changes in terms of technology used so it may be up to standard with current demands for latency-free gaming purposes as well as support for both 4K resolutions at 120 Hz and 8K resolutions at 60 Hz.
- Samsung QE75Q900R QLED 4K TV - Announced at IFA 2019 this is one of the first standard resolution (4K) TVs that supports HDMI 2.1 specification. It's not clear whether that means it will work with gaming consoles or just offer better compatibility with higher resolutions via its three HDMI ports.
- Samsung Exynos Auto Series 9 8895 - This processor has been used to power the ZTE Axon 10 Pro smartphone, which was launched in June 2019 so chances are it's one of the first devices sporting hardware compatible with the latest HDMI specification, but this has still to be confirmed.
- LG BX OLED - Announced at IFA 2019 this model has confirmed it is compatible with HDMI 2.1 and even includes some intuitive features such as voice or gesture control.
- Samsung Galaxy Fold - Launched in April 2019, the new phone/smartwatch hybrid uses a Snapdragon 855 processor capable of supporting full 40 Gbps speed required for all bandwidth needed by 4K 120 Hz HDR displays and we know what we need to add to that. It can be used either folded or unfolded so that may raise questions about the touchscreen interface but manufacturers assure there won't be any problems with onscreen responsiveness when using two screens at once.
- LG NANO85 - This is an 18.7 cm (7.4-inch), 480 x 1792 pixel display with support for Mobile HDR and HDMI 2.1 connectivity, but the latter has yet to be officially confirmed by the manufacturer.
- LG SM9500 - This is a 55-inch, 3840 x 2160 pixel display that seems to be the smallest one announced with support for HDMI 2.1 which has been officially confirmed by LG. It also provides a high dynamic range (HDR) and a wide color gamut for 10-bit color depth.
- LG SM9X - This is a 43 inch TV with 4K resolution, 60 Hz refresh rate, and HDR supports so chances are it has HDMI 2.1 ports or not so it's just a question of time before we have official confirmation from the manufacturer about this model.
- Samsung Q90/Q90T QLED - This model is similar to the Samsung QE75Q900R TV in many ways including the same number of HDMI 2.1 ports, but there are also differences that make it hard to tell for sure whether they are perfectly compatible with the latest HDMI specification or not.
- Sharp LC-90LE745U 90-inch 8K TV - Announced during CES 2019 this model has confirmed it supports all video formats required by the new HDMI standards thus indicating that hardware inside is up to date with current demands. It even includes Nvidia Shield support meaning 4K 120 Hz HDR resolutions will be no problem for this massive display if your graphics card can provide the necessary speed and bandwidths.
- Samsung The Frame 2020 - This is a unique TV that provides 4K resolution, but its main features are not in terms of technical details because behind the scenes there's no display to be found. It's basically a picture frame with a smart display inside so it can be used for displaying anything you like.
- Samsung The Wall XE9 series - This model is the only one confirmed by the manufacturer to offer support for HDMI 2.1 specification at CES 2019, so chances are this means the hardware is perfectly compatible with the latest video streaming technology required by this standard. It also supports HDR and a wide color gamut thus providing all video quality benefits demanded by new generation TVs.
- Vizio OLED 2020 - At IFA 2019 this TV was announced but we still don't know much about it other than its 4K resolution and 120 Hz frame rates thanks to Active Pixel Tuning technology, so chances are it's compatible with HDMI 2.1 as well.
- Vizio P Series Quantum 2020 - As usual, this TV is an enhanced version of the P Series with even better picture quality thanks to 8K resolution and high dynamic range support. It's also one of the only mohttps://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1gXkvazZl1B-LSPLYUXNCZuEe0faPX_1hN7W-j6M8VTc/edit#gid=0dels confirmed by the manufacturer to have HDMI 2.1 ports.
- Vizio L Series 2020 - This TV set provides 4K UHD and full HDR10 support and in addition, it comes in a thinner profile than its predecessors probably thanks to reduced bezel size which enables it to look more like modern displays despite having older technology inside.
- Vizio P Series Quantum X 2020 - A bit different from its stablemates, this model provides 8K resolution and high dynamic range support, the only thing not confirmed by the manufacturer so far is its compatibility with the latest HDMI 2.1 standard.
How do I connect my TV to HDMI?
Your TV may come with support for HDMI 2.1 or it may use an earlier version, depending on when you bought the TV and where you live. Since TVs are usually quite sensitive pieces of equipment, they tend to be updated very quickly so even if your set is not compatible with this new standard yet, chances are there will be a firmware update that will make it compatible soon enough.
If your TV did not come with support for HDMI 2.1 but you want to try it out anyway (and the hardware inside your device is good enough), then good news - all you need is what comes in the box together with your TV like any other cable, either High-Speed HDMI cable or Standard Speed cable.
A high-Speed HDMI cable is usually recommended for cables longer than 5 meters (16 feet), but if you really want to use it with shorter cables, then go ahead.
Do I need an HDMI cable for my Smart TV?
If you want to connect your smart TV to another device like a PC or a set-top box, then you need to make sure that your Smart TV supports HDMI 2.1 as well as the latest version of whatever software you use on it (like Android or another smart platform).
If your only goal is streaming movies and shows from sources like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, etc., then all you need is a high-speed HDMI cable - one end goes into the back of the TV and the other end either to your external device's output port or an AV receiver which connects devices with HDMI ports.
In the case of an AV Receiver, look for its 'ARC' feature if possible because this will spare you from having to constantly switch between input ports which is very annoying.