If you’re a gamer or a cinema and TV enthusiast, it’s likely you’ve been keeping abreast of the changes in technology, with next-gen consoles and 8K TV’s hitting stores. However, did you know that to keep up with the latest audio-visual trends, your HDMI cables will need an upgrade too?
A new HDMI standard (HDMI 2.1) is now here. But what’s the difference and why can’t you just continue to use the cables you have? Read on to find out…
Resolution and Refresh Rates
The first reason to upgrade your HDMI cables is the one that will have the most impact on the naked eye. Put simply, HDMI 2.1 allows for a higher resolution at higher refresh rates, which makes the picture on your TV look sharper and move smoother.
Your current cables likely support 4K at 60Hz, which by no means looks bad, but with the next generation of consoles capable of 120Hz (with a little bit of upscaling involved), those who want their games to look as smooth as they possibly can will want to upgrade.
And right now, most TV’s don’t support 8K, but if you don’t use an HDMI 2.1 cable when they do become mainstream, you’ll only be able to get a resolution of 4K out of them at best. So, upgrading now saves a lot of hassle down the line.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In simple terms, HDR-enabled TV’s are able to display a richer, deeper colour as well as being able to provide more contrast. This means highlights can be brighter, and shadows can be darker, making the whole display ‘pop’ more than a standard display would.
Most modern 4K TV’s are HDR enabled these days, but what’s the difference between HDR and Dynamic HDR?
Essentially, HDR takes a look at the overall film or TV show and that range and depth of colour is applied to the whole thing. Dynamic HDR, on the other hand, does this frame by frame or at least scene by scene. This means that there’s less compromise.
The last main point to consider with the HDMI 2.1 standard is bandwidth. Now, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you may be thinking: isn’t bandwidth something to do with the internet? The answer to that question is no. Bandwidth generally means how much data can pass through any cable over a set length of time. This is usually measured in seconds, hence why we use terms like 1Gbps (which is one gigabit per second).
HDMI 2.1 offers 48Gbps – a marked improvement over the 18Gbps that HDMI 2.0 can handle. This is because the higher the resolution of a video clip, the larger the size of that video clip becomes (in data terms).
It’s worth noting that HDMI 2.1 cables are backwards compatible too, so watching 4K or even standard 1080p HD content won’t look any different than it always has.
So, as you can see, upgrading to HDMI 2.1 is a worthwhile endeavour, future-proofing your setup for many years to come.