If you didn’t already know, the next generation of HDMI has arrived, and it might be worthwhile to start thinking about it now for your future projects. Why? Well, HDMI 2.1 is insanely future-proofed, allowing it to be the standard of choice for many years to come. The only problem is there aren’t any devices supporting the format thus far, well, that was until Microsoft released the latest update for the Xbox One X.
Yes, Microsoft’s monster of a games console is the first device to officially support the HDMI 2.1 standard. The Xbox One X is already a pretty versatile device, supporting native 4K gaming, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and Dolby Atmos audio, but it’s now the most future-proofed games console.
With HDMI 2.1, the Xbox One X is now capable of supporting resolutions up to 10K, high frame rate content, variable frame rate, and eArc. The chances of the console being capable of pushing through content with a 10K resolution remains to be seen, but at least its HDMI port is theoretically capable of it.
Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) and Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM)
Arguably the most important feature for gamers will be the addition of VRR and ALLM. VRR is the highlight feature here, as it allows the display and the console to talk to each other to ensure that their frame rates match. That means the console won’t try and output a higher frame rate than what the display is capable of, which can sometimes be the case, leading to screen tearing and other odd artifacts. This feature should also lead to a better image quality overall.
ALLM can be equally important, as it also allows the display and console to talk with one another, although this time is checks the TV or projector for a suitable ‘Game Mode’. It then switches the display over to that mode, ensuring minimum input lag while applying image processing.
How To Get HDMI 2.1 Working
Despite Microsoft jumping the gun and adding support for HDMI 2.1, there are currently no true HDMI 2.1-toting TVs available on the market. At least not any that support the full roster of features that users will expect from the standard. Instead, the first TVs with HDMI 2.1 are not expected to arrive until 2019, at which point we expect the majority of manufacturers will begin offering the new standard on at least their flagship TVs.
It won’t just be a new TV that users will need to invest in, however. Installers will also need to make sure their customers are equipped with new cables, as HDMI 2.1 will require all-new cables in order to work. That’s a departure from the usual approach taken by the HDMI Forum.
Thankfully there are cables already available on the market, with Belkin offering an Ultra HD High Speed HDMI cable for just $29.99 in the US. There’s likely to be even more cables available in the marketplace in the coming months.