What is HDMI 2.1a?

Standards HDMI port They are a disaster. HDMI 2.1In particular, it’s an exceptionally frustrating mess, with messy support among TV makers, cable makers, and gadgets that make setting, say, 120Hz games on PS5 the Xbox Xbox X To be a unique and heartbreaking experience.

HDMI Forum is progressing those With the latest version of the HDMI specification stack, HDMI 2.1aYou’re here to try to make everything better and simpler.

HDMI 2.1a

Let’s start with the good: HDMI 2.1a It is an upcoming revision of the HDMI 2.1 stack and adds a major new feature, the Source-Based Tone Map, or SBTM. SBTM is a new feature HDR which downloads some of the HDR tone mapping for the content source (such as a computer or set-top box) along with the tone mapping done by the TV or monitor.

SBTM isn’t a new HDR standard, and it’s not here to replace it HDR10 the Dolby Vision. Instead, it aims to help make existing HDR settings work better by allowing the content source to better optimize the content passing to the screen or by eliminating the need for a user to manually calibrate their displays for HDR by having the source device perform Configure content for specific content.

Other use cases could be if there is a mix of content types, such as streaming devices (which can have an HDR game next to a black and white text window), which shows each content area.

The HDMI Forum notes that set-top boxes, game companies, and TV manufacturers will be able to add support through HDMI 2.1a firmware updates and source-based tone mapping “depending on your design.”

However, given the usual course of TV specification updates, it seems virtually guaranteed that in most cases, users won’t get the new features until they purchase a new TV that supports HDMI 2.1a Immediately (which, so far, is exactly zero of them, given that the specification has not yet been fully released).

bad points

Now here’s the bad: Like any other unique feature of HDMI 2.1, which includes variable refresh rates, low-latency automatic connections, and the bandwidth needed to deliver things like 10K resolution or 120Hz refresh rates, SBTM It would be an optional feature that manufacturers can support, but it’s not something they should certify.

This is because HDMI forum and HDMI Licensing Officer (The two organizations that define and license HDMI standards, respectively) operate the standards as a set containing all of the above standards.

As TFTCentral explains, according to the HDMI Licensing Manager, now that there is HDMI 2.1, there is no longer an HDMI 2.0 standard – all new HDMI 2.0 ports must be bundled under the brand HDMI 2.1Although none of the new features included in the “new” 2.1 standard are used.

HDMI 2.1a will work similarly – once the standard is released, per the rules of the HDMI Licensing Manager, all new ports will theoretically be called HDMI 2.1a, but they won’t have to introduce the new SBTM or even any HDMI 2.1 feature.

Forum argument HDMI port That’s how their standards have always worked, and optional features allow manufacturers flexibility in the functions they offer (an entry-level set, for example, probably doesn’t need ports that support 8K 120Hz VRR games).

The group says companies should list the features their devices support so that customers are clear about what their devices can provide, beyond numerical expectations.

However, this argument doesn’t really hold up. The point of the standards is that they’re meant to simplify this kind of thing, standardize it across devices, if you have to dig into the spec sheet to see if a specific refresh rate feature you want is compatible with a new TV, why bother with the HDMI 2.x brand in the first place ?

Even better than the report from TFTC middle Note that most manufacturers do not follow HDMI licensing recommendations for port naming.

For now at least, TV companies still for the most part still list HDMI 2.0 ports as “HDMI 2.0” and have kept the HDMI 2.1 label for ports that actually support newer features.

But the bottom line is that under the rules of the organization that licenses the standard, these companies don’t have to do that, and technically they shouldn’t label things like that, even though it’s more beneficial to customers.

This means that there is a possibility that the less accurate (or more ignorant) companies will start marketing HDMI 2.1 ports that don’t actually offer any 2.1 or 2.1a features.

This leaves the upcoming HDMI 2.1a standard and the new SBTM feature in the same place as the rest of HDMI 2.1 and its feature set – a useful new feature that can make the content you’re watching and playing look better, but it probably is. Even better, it requires new hardware and cables to be purchased, and may not even be compatible with devices that claim to have “HDMI 2.1a” ports.

This means like CES 2022 A slew of TV commercials are about to arrive, and the only way to make sure you’re getting the HDMI features you want is, as always, to make sure you read the printed text accurately.

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