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8K IS CHANGING HOW YOU WATCH TV
HDMI 2.1 delivers new features and signal types to HDMI technology, bringing us closer to that ultimate goal, replicating human vision.
The driving force behind the HDMI 2.1 specification is the demand for higher performance signals; consumers want more color, deeper color, and smoother images. Each advancement to HDMI technology brings us another step closer to accurately mimicking human vision.
In the last specification, HDMI 2.0, we were introduced to 4k resolutions with refresh rates up to 60 Hz. HDMI 2.0's most significant change was the addition of billions of colors using High Dynamic Range (HDR). HDR allows us to better refine the amount of light in our image, making our pictures more beautiful and lifelike.
HDMI 2.1 pushes even further, doubling 4k refresh rates, quadrupling the pixel count, and improving HDR, giving viewers a more immersive experience with their displays. In addition, it has forced source manufacturers to advance how the signal gets on screen, creating new ventures unavailable in previous specifications.
Producing these signals requires a lot of bandwidth, and data rates for audio video signals are at an all-time high. As a result, HDMI cables need to be used in different and unique ways allowing for the maximum amount of data to flow. This article talks about why the changes in HDMI 2.1 are exciting for the consumer, making it a great way to maximize sales for all integrators.
Over the last two years, over 25 million HDMI 2.1 sources have been introduced into the world. Microsoft, Sony, and Nvidia are crafting next-generation consoles and PCs. At the same time, all the major players, including Sony, Samsung, and LG, are producing a line of HDMI 2.1 displays. It's up to us in the professional video world to keep up.
Like Will Farrell's character Ricky Bobby says in Talladega Nights, "If you're not first, you're last."
WHAT MAKES THIS NEXT GENERATION OF HDMI TECHNOLOGY DIFFERENT?
Smarter HDMI Knows What Your System Can Do (FRL Fixed Rate Link)
HDMI is becoming more intelligent, learning what your system is capable of and providing you with the best signal possible. In turn, it's more important than ever to ensure that your system components are compatible with at least 40Gbps data rates to get the best picture for your customers.
FRL firsts checks your system components by sending out test signals, verifying which one fits down the pipe, and sending that signal. For example, if you have a sub-par cable, perhaps only capable of 18Gbps, only certain types of 4k signals could be sent. Meaning that if you were playing Microsoft's Flight Simulator, or other games capable of 8k or 120Hz refresh rates, FRL technology would tell your PC to send a lesser taxing signal such as 4k at 60Hz, something the cable could handle.
Room Size Myth
With 8k resolutions, you can get closer to your TV and still see a crystal-clear image. You may have heard someone say in the past, "Well, that huge TV will not look good on this wall." With 8k, that is no longer a concern; go ahead and place a 100-inch display where your old 65 inch was. Having pixel counts four times higher than 4k, and 16 times that of 1080pHD TVs, allows consumers to get much closer to the screen while retaining a clear and undistorted image.
Bonus: Now, you can sell 100-inch TVs to your clients with improved picture quality over a similarly priced projector!
Increased Refresh Rate (HFR, High Frame Rate)
To deliver crisp video with high-action, fast-moving content like sports or gaming, you need to provide more than the standard 24Hz of movies. No problem! 60hz sports broadcasts have been around for a while. With HDMI 2.1, we can increase our refresh rates from 60hz to 120hz, doubling the number of still images shown in one second. This gives us the potential to have crisper and more fluid sports viewing and game playing than ever before.
Bonus: High-action sports and gaming are becoming more immersive.
Bonus: Unless the HDMI cable has completely failed, you should always have an image on screen.
Dolby and DTS Lossless Audio via eARC
The enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) brings high-end audio signals like Dolby Atmos and DTS Master Audio to your AVR or Soundbar via an HDMI cable, even when watching a TV's internal apps for streaming services like Netflix, Disney Plus, or Hulu. Today's content creators are using multi-channel audio signals to bring more depth into the experience when watching TV and film. With the current shift from cable television to streaming platforms, integrators need to have a stable way of delivering sound from the TV to a distributed audio system or even a local AVR. We can do just that using eARC from the newest HDMI specification, even when using the Netflix app from your smart TV. Additionally, game consoles that can deliver these high-end audio signals can now be plugged directly into the TV, reducing input latency and increasing overall immersion.
Bonus: High-end uncompressed or lossless audio signals can now be sent directly from the TV to the AVR!
8K is here, and HDMI 2.1 will be affecting everyone from custom installers like yourself to professional gamers to the average Joe. It is up to us to be ahead of the curve and deliver the latest and greatest advancements in HDMI. So, when you receive a call stating your customer is adding a PS5 to their home, you can rest assured that solutions are available.
This article was written by Matt Murray, CTO of AVPro Edge, Bullet Train Cables, and Murideo.