HDMI 2.1 and why it matters!

 

2.1 IS HERE!!! The fanfare and excitement generated over the new HDMI specification standard announced last year is palpable. It is only a matter of time I’m sure before we see “2.1” tattoos and cosplays scattered across tech conventions and fan meetups across the globe. Until then, we can sit back and look over exactly what HDMI 2.1 is, and what it means to us moving forward.

As of yet, HDMI has two main standards, 1.4 and 2.0.  

Now you can put your mind at ease, for the interest of all parties I will not be doing a technical analysis and comparison of each of these standards, suffice it to say, more bandwidth… good.

1.4 is the most common standard and is sufficient for most average use, these wires transfer around 10 Gigabytes a second or GBS. Then comes 2.0, the standard for most devices sold today, which has a data transfer rate of around 18 GBS. Now, I hope you are seated, because the new 2.1 standard will be able to push out 48 GBS. That’s a lot of GBS! To put it in different terms, HDMI 2.1 will be able to process up to 10k resolution, 8k resolution at 60fps, and 4k resolution at 120fps.

 

hdmi.org

hdmi.org

 

"more bandwidth… good."

 

According to HMDI.org here are a few fancy features beyond resolution the new ULTRA High Speed HDMI standard allows:

 

 

  • Dynamic HDR support ensures every moment of a video is displayed at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast and wider color gamuts—on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.

  • Enhanced refresh rate features ensure an added level of smooth and seamless motion and transitions for gaming, movies and video. They include:

    • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) reduces or eliminates lag, stutter and frame tearing for more fluid and better detailed gameplay.

    • Quick Media Switching (QMS) for movies and video eliminates the delay that can result in blank screens before content is displayed.

    • Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency for smoother no-lag gaming, and real-time interactive virtual reality.

  • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) allows the ideal latency setting to automatically be set allowing for smooth, lag-free and uninterrupted viewing and interactivity.

  • Dynamic HDR support ensures every moment of a video is displayed at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast and wider color gamuts—on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis.

 
 

So… Why are we talking about this?

The reason we bring this up on a gaming and entertainment website is simple. The very first HDMI 2.1 capable consumer electronic product is out now. That product is, you guessed it, Microsoft's Xbox One X. A firmware update will allow it several 2.1 features when used with compatible televisions.

 

Let’s break this down!

There is a new data transfer standard to HDMI. That standard being HDMI 2.1. This standard will result in a NEW HDMI 2.1 certified wire which will be labeled “ULTRA High Speed HDMI Cables” Worry not, these cables will be backwards compatible to both 1.4 and 2.0.

Xbox One X is capable through a firmware update to take advantage of certain 2.1 capabilities.

To take advantage of all the bells and whistles that this new standard allows you will need a device, a wire, and a television that are compatible.

hdmi2.1cable.jpg

This standard will result in a NEW HDMI 2.1 certified wire which will be labeled “ULTRA High Speed HDMI Cables”

 

A demonstration displayed at Computex 2018 showed off the Variable refresh rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) in action.

 
 
 

Now, this does not mean that we all have to run out and rewire all of our entertainment devices, but it does mean that the future is bright. The next wave of devices and televisions coming out will be able to process more audio and visual information faster, which means better overall experience with less wait time. Each of these devices will present us with increasing reasons to update our wiring. For the purposes of Xbox however, they find themselves in an altogether new situation, they have created a top tier offering which is inherently future proofed.

 

Historically Xbox has seemed to take a wait and see approach when it comes to new audio video standards. By making the Xbox One X 2.1 capable not only early, but to take the distinction of being the first major electronic device to do so sends a clear message. Phil Spencer took the stage of E3 and made a promise that the Xbox would seek to be the benchmark for gaming performance, He seems to be keeping that promise.