Home entertainment products with HDMI® 2.1-enabled features hit the market this year and in particular are ready for the holiday buying season. Now is the time for your sales and marketing associates to understand why the new HDMI 2.1 products are a game-changer.
HDMI 2.1 specification is not just another spec with a single new feature. It enables several features that make images pop with a fast-action smoothness that early adopters, enthusiasts and gamers will love. Future-ready features should turn buyers’ heads as well.
A quick refresher of HDMI 2.1 features is listed at the end of this article.
HDMI 2.1 Choices
Helping consumers understand the speeds and feeds of HDMI 2.1 features will quickly lead to the conclusion that their new 4K or 8K TV labeled with “HDMI 2.1” is worth purchasing over last year’s model.
It’s important to help consumers understand that not all HDMI 2.1 features may be enabled on display models. Manufacturers choose which 2.1 features they want to include, and they are required to state which ones are enabled.
Some products labeled HDMI 2.1 might only have eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel). If a new 4K TV is labeled HDMI 2.1 and one or more ports are for 4K@120, the TV needs to state that. The only way 4K@120 can be achieved is with the new signaling technology FRL (Fixed Rate Link), which is needed for higher frame rates and resolution. Conversely, FRL is not needed for some other features such as eARC.
Selling HDMI 2.1 Features
Consumers know to look for a TV with the most HDMI ports, but most don’t yet understand why a TV with one or two of those ports labeled HDMI 2.1 delivers a significantly greater experience.
Having asked the customer if movies, sports or gaming are more important, choose the features you feel will resonate the most. The reality is that all content benefits from each feature.
Many consumers are familiar with the benefits of HDR (High Dynamic Range) which will make explaining dynamic HDR particularly exciting because it is the feature that will have the most noticeable impact on all types of content. HDR enhances video images with an extended dark-to-bright contrast range for deeper blacks and brighter whites, greater detail in both the dark and bright parts in the same image, and greater detail within an extended color space.
Now with HDMI 2.1 supporting dynamic HDR, this enhanced HDR feature will be more universally supported. Dynamic HDR 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. HDR-enhanced content is available for movies, videos, TV shows, video and PC games and virtual reality.
For the sports fan where winning by a nose makes all the difference, the end-to-end, uncompressed 8K/4K resolutions and faster refresh rates including 8K@60Hz and 4K@120Hz delivered by HDMI 2.1 is a must-have.
More than TVs
In addition to TVs, AV receivers, and soundbars, upcoming gaming consoles like Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 support HDMI 2.1 features. And for the first time, gamers can use a TV display much larger than a desktop monitor and be immersed in the action without sacrificing speed or detail.
With increased bandwidth capability supporting up to 48G bandwidth for uncompressed 4K120, the HDMI 2.1 spec enables a veritable cornucopia of acronyms that will appeal to even the most ardent gamer. Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) reduces or eliminates lag, judder and frame tearing, Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) enables the ideal latency setting to be set automatically, Quick Media Switching (QMS) smoothly switches between frame rates, and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency for smoother no-lag gaming and real-time interactive virtual reality.
And of course, don’t forget the HDMI 2.1 feature eARc for support of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X for a complete video and audio gaming experience.
Don’t Forget the Cable that Supports ALL HDMI 2.1 Features!
Supporting the 48Gbps bandwidth is the new Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable. The cable ensures ultra high-speed bandwidth dependent features are delivered including uncompressed 4K@120 and 8K video with HDR. It features exceptionally low EMI (electro-magnetic interference), which reduces interference with nearby wireless devices. The cable is backwards compatible and can be used with the existing installed base of HDMI devices. It is also easy to explain to consumers that this is the future-ready cable of choice.
If your customer is purchasing an Xbox Series X or PS5 gaming console, don’t forget the right cable. All HDMI 2.1 enabled devices must be connected with a certified HDMI Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable to realize ALL the features the specification enables. These cables must display an official Ultra High Speed Label on the package so they are easy to identify.
HDMI 2.1 Features–In Brief
8K@60 and 4K@120: End-to-end, uncompressed 8K/4K resolutions and faster refresh rates including 8K60Hz and 4K120Hz with a single upgraded cable for seamless integration with the HDMI ecosystem.
Dynamic HDR: 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.
Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable: The cable’s increased bandwidth capability supports up to 48G bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1 feature support. Identified by the HDMI Ultra High Speed branding label that is mandatory for each package, this is only cable that complies with stringent specifications designed to ensure support for all HDMI 2.1 features.
Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC): Simplifies connectivity and provides greater ease of use for multiple components discovery and audio optimization. It supports the latest high-bitrate audio formats up to 192kHz, 24-bit, and uncompressed 5.1 and 7.1, and 32-channel uncompressed audio, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR): Reduces or eliminates lag, judder and frame tearing for more fluid and better detailed gameplay. VRR enables a gaming source such as a console or computer to deliver video frames as fast as it can, which in many cases is slower than the normal static refresh rate.
Fixed Rate Link (FRL): A signaling technology supported by HDMI 2.1 is necessary to achieve the higher uncompressed resolutions such as those above 4K60 as well as the ultra high speed bandwidths up to 48Gbps. It’s also required for some compressed video transport which in turn enables operation at lower data rates for example 4K60 and ultra-high pixel rate video such as 10Kp120.
Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM): Allows the ideal latency setting to automatically be set allowing for smooth, lag-free and uninterrupted viewing and interactivity.
Quick Media Switching (QMS): Eliminates the delay in movies and video 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.
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