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HDMI gets a massive upgrade, brings improvements to HDR, gaming, and 8K

by Eric Frederiksen | January 5, 2017January 5, 2017 5:00 pm PST


4K TVs are pretty solid right now, and I’m happy with the Samsung set I picked up this fall. At least, that’s what I’ll keep telling myself for as long as I can, now that the HDMI forum has unveiled a new spec for the HDMI connector, bringing the version up to 2.1.

While HDMI 2.0 solidified the basics for HDR color, HDMI 2.1 brings a list of new improvements. HDMI 2.1 can support 4K at refresh rates up to 120Hz, and can even do 8K at 60Hz – when 8K television eventually makes it to market. 8K content can include HDR color with this new spec, but you’ll need HDMI 2.1 cables, which can pass data along at a blazing 48Gbps.

G-Sync-like tech and Dynamic HDR are on the way

Closer to the horizon are improvements to HDR and gaming. Dynamic HDR support will optimize color on a frame-by-frame basis instead of tuning it to the whole movie or episode. Game Mode VRR support brings variable refresh rates that promise to cut down on lag and screen tearing. This tech isn’t unlike Nvidia’s G-Sync and AMD’s FreeSync. Gamers with monitors and cards supporting those technologies have been very happy with the results, so this should be a welcome feature once there’s hardware to support it.

If your TV just started shooting smoke out the back, though, don’t hold off on picking up a new set. The new spec doesn’t release until the second half of the year, and displays offering this technology will come sometime after that.

HDMI Forum

Eric Frederiksen

Eric Frederiksen has been a gamer since someone made the mistake of letting him play their Nintendo many years ago, pushing him to beg for his own,...