Time to Get New Cables?

The HDMI Forum released the HDMI 2.1 standard for video cables and connections last November, and that means upgrades are on the horizon. The current wave of TVs, game systems, and media streamers will remain untouched for most of the coming year, but after the HDMI Forum’s press conference on HDMI 2.1 at CES 2018, we have an idea of what the new standard will bring. Before you scramble for new cables, here’s what you should know.

Faster, Better 4K

The HDMI 2.1 standard is faster than HDMI 2.0, the current connection used by modern home entertainment devices. It nearly triples the bandwidth of HDMI 2.0, defining a maximum speed of 48Gbps compared with 18GBps. For 4K TVs, that means an HDMI 2.1 connection can handle 4K video at up to 120 frames per second. That’s natively transmitted video, not the motion processed, interpolated 24, 30, and 60fps video current TVs with 120Hz refresh rates can display. That means smoother action that looks much less artificial.

These faster speeds mean wider support for dynamic high dynamic range (HDR) video. Yes, that’s two dynamics in one term, but there’s a reason. HDR expands the dynamic range of video, which determines how dark, bright, and colorful each pixel can get. Most current HDR content is static, defining a set range with HDR10 or adjusting levels based on individual TVs with profile metadata. These levels stay constant through the movie or show you’re watching.

Dynamic HDR makes the dynamic range variable instead of static. Additional metadata for each scene or frame tweaks the dynamic range of the picture to best fit the content….