AV Gear With Certified HDMI 2.1 Not Likely This Year

The wait for TVs, AV receivers, sound bars and other CE products with High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) 2.1 connections will take a bit longer.

The final HDMI 2.1 standard was originally promised by the HDMI Forum to be available in the second quarter of 2017 but slipped to Nov. 28 because the Forum received more comments than expected from member companies during a comment period, said Forum president Robert Blanchard on Monday, the day before CES got underway.

Even though the standard has finally been nailed down, however, it will take more time for the HDMI Licensing Administrator (LA), which licenses HDMI technology, to develop all of the compliance-testing specifications that products must undergo to be certified as HDMI 2.1-compliant. In terms of text, the size of the spec doubled over its predecessor, so “there is a lot to test,” said Forum chairman Chris Pasqualino.

HDMI LA hopes to publish initial test specifications in the second quarter of this year and roll out the rest in phases through the third or fourth quarters, Forum executives said. That means certified products aren’t likely to be on the market this year, and the executives were reluctant to speculate on when certified products would be available.

Still, some CE products could be available later this year with a smattering of 2.1 features, even though those features won’t have undergone certification testing, Blanchard said. In fact, some 2.1 features, such as eARC (enhanced audio return channel), could be added to some current products as firmware updates, he said. Marantz and Denon, for example, already plan to add eARC firmware updates to some of their current AVRs at an unspecified date.

So what are we waiting for?

HDMI 2.1 boosts data throughput to 48Gbps from 18Gbps to support 8K video for TVs, 5K and 10K video for ultrawide-format commercial displays and ultrawide consumer TVs, higher frame rates to 120fps at resolutions from 4K to 10K, and native support for potential future active-metadata HDR technologies other than Dolby Vision and HDR 10+.

HDMI 2.1’s eARC feature will widen the bandwidth of the audio return channel to 38Mbps from 1Mbps, leaving ample room for bandwidth-intensive audio formats to pass from a smart TV’s streaming services or TV-connected 4K Blu-ray player to HDMI-equipped AV receivers and sound bars. The eARC feature would therefore transfers audio in such bandwidth-intensive surround-sound formats as Dolby TrueHD and DTS HD Master Audio and audio with up to eight channels of 192kHz/24-bit sound.

New 48Gbps Ultra High Speed HDMI cables will be needed to pass through 8K and 10K resolutions and 5K resolutions at 48fps and up. Some 4K video will also need the extra bandwidth, such as 4K video at 48fps with 12-bit color depth and 4:4:4 chroma.

Ultra High Speed HDMI cables supporting HDMI 2.1 will be backward-compatible with ports incorporating earlier versions of HDMI.

Other enhancements in HDMI 2.1 include:
• A variable refresh rate (VRR) for gameplay to deliver more fluid and better detailed gameplay.
• Quick media switching (QMS), eliminating blank screens or other artifacts when switching between movies, games or other video content.
• Quick frame transport (QFT), which reduces latency for smoother no-lag gaming and real-time interactive virtual reality.

RonS's picture

There’s probably a lot of people waiting for implementation of the new spec, before upgrading their equipment.
I am one of them. Great coverage of the CES!

WildGuy's picture

i am planning on waiting until oled tv possibly from lg with hdmi 2.1 connectors before upgrading and that might means next year's model might have hdmi 2.1 and i will wait till the week of black friday next year where most tvs sell the cheapest and soonest which is nearly 2 years from now.

By then av receivers will probably have hdmi 2.1 connectors too.