What is HDMI 2.1?

With the rapid advancement of TV technology comes the need for an even better way to send content to your display. HDMI 2.1 is the latest standard in an audio-visual cable that is ready for 8K and beyond.

What is HDMI?

HDMI stands for High Definition Multimedia Interface. It refers to both the cable that connects your TV to your devices and the technical standard used to make it compatible across televisions, media players, sound systems, gaming consoles, and other devices. It was initially adopted in the early 2000s to prepare for the arrival of HDTV as a standard by which to deliver high-definition audio and visual signals from connected devices to displays for the best possible quality.

As the technology in displays and the devices that deliver content has expanded, the HDMI standard has changed over the years. The cables needed to be improved to support higher-quality audio, better colour, 3D, and eventually 4K.

 

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What is HDMI 2.1?

HDMI 2.1 is the latest version of the HDMI standard. It has been updated to carry content in 8K and beyond. It can handle resolutions up to 10K and frame rates up to 120fps. These new cables look like previous versions and have the same connectors. However, they are optimized to carry far more data. While standard HDMI 2.1 cables offer bandwidth of up to 18Gbps, the new standard is ready to transmit data at 48 Gbps of bandwidth. When it comes to HDMI, the higher the data rate, the better, especially with new 8K TVs. This extra bandwidth will be able to carry the resolution and framerates of these new sets.

HDMI 2.1 - Good News for Audio

HDMI 2.1 improves audio bandwidth through the use of eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel.) Current HDMI standards allow for an audio return channel that makes it possible for audio signals to travel from your TV and sound system. eARC significantly increases the bandwidth available for this sound data, improving audio quality.

HDR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is already available in many TVs. It uses metadata to signal the TV how to treat content giving you the most dynamic picture. Currently, HDR information is handled on a per-program basis, giving you the best possible setting for what you are watching.

HDMI 2.1 allows for Dynamic HDR. This uses metadata to signal the TV on a scene-by-scene basis instead of only a per-program basis. This has the potential to unlock some stunning visuals on displays and content that offer the technology.

Gaming

Gamers may have the most to gain from HDMI 2.1. Low latency is essential for the smooth performance of graphic-intensive games. HDMI 2.1 is equipped with Auto Low-Latency Mode. This can automatically adjust the TVs setting to ensure the best possible performance, avoiding lag and creating the smoothest possible gaming experience.

Do I Need HDMI 2.1?

Upgrading your current cabling will not make any difference unless your devices are ready for the new standard. However, since the new standard is backward compatible with previous versions of HDMI, using the new cables will “future-proof” your connections. This may be important for especially tricky installations.

If you are making the switch to 8K, HDMI 2.1 cables will be the way to go. Even if the content is not yet ready to take advantage of all the features it offers, your cables will be ready when it is.