HDMI 2.1 has been heralded as a must-have on any new TV or monitor thanks to its 48 Gbps bandwidth that allows it to deliver resolutions up to 10K and 120Hz refresh rate when playing high frame rate games. And the option of Variable Refresh Rates (VRR) and Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM) are also attractive, especially for Xbox Series X and PS5 owners.
However, it could be said that everything is a bit of a lie; at least in some cases. A report from TFTCentral You have found that HDMI 2.1 is not actually an upgrade over HDMI 2.0, a more common port version on many televisions and monitors, but rather a complete replacement.
That doesn’t seem like a cause for concern, after all technologies often succeed and supersede older versions.
But TFTCentral reached out to the HDMI license manager to point out that an HDMI 2.1 monitor that Xiaomi was selling did not have support for HDMI 2.1 features. This was expected to make a bad smell, but in fact it is totally fine.
That’s because having HDMI 2.1 replace instead of upgrade HDMI 2.1, the HDMI license manager opened the door for TV and monitor manufacturers to label their displays as HDMI 2.1 compliant even when they don’t have any of the desirable features.
“Products can no longer be certified 2.0 for 2.1 only, and also 2.1 features are optional to implement, so popular features like 4k120, ALLM, VRR are not required,” said Brad Bramy, VP of Marketing and Operations. by HDMI LA Ars Technica. “Manufacturers could only implement eARC, for example, and claim to be a 2.1-enabled device.”
If you’re smelling something brown in here, we can’t blame you. Port standards are complicated enough; just look at how many different things USB-C can support, but it doesn’t always.
HDMI is not easier, especially for people who are not tech savvy. For example, to get the benefits of HDMI 2.1 on Xbox Series X or PS5, you must ensure that you are using the included HDMI cables; for the layman this is not very clear. Also add that HDMI 2.1 labeled devices might not be compliant with the full set of standards for connection, and you’re in for a lot of potential confusion.
Now manufacturers who want to use the HDMI 2.1 standard need to be clear about what features their version supports, as required by the HDMI adopter agreement. But again, this does little to help squash the potential for confusion.
So what is the solution? Ideally, standard bodies will become more stringent with the rules and requirements of what may be termed HDMI 2.1 or USB 3.2 Gen 2 in the near future.
But that could be an illusion. So our suggestion is to actually read the fine print on the product you are purchasing and verify that you are getting what you would expect from an HDMI 2.1 TV or monitor.
As selfish as it may sound, consult Tom’s Guide for guidance. We’ve got a ton of TV and monitor reviews, and our lists of the best HDMI 2.1 TVs, the best gaming TVs, the best monitors, and the best gaming monitors will have you covered. We are also working hard to demystify some of the connection standards and display technology that is being used, so you can get a sense of what is good for you and what might be superfluous.
If nothing else, feel free to contact us for our advice and guidance; you can email the appropriate editor or writeror send us a tweet @tomsguide.