Don’t buy an HDMI 2.1 TV until you’ve read the fine print


Photo: Wes Davis/Gizmodo

Like USB, SD, and other ports, not every HDMI input is created equal, and using the right one can have a marked effect on things like picture quality, frame rates, and latency.

If deciphering every version of HDMI wasn’t tedious enough, we now know that the latest and greatest HDMI 2.1 standard is, well, not very standardized. A TFTCentral Research has shown that the TV or monitor you buy with “HDMI 2.1” may not support the latest features.

TFTCentral smelled something strange when it saw that a Xiaomi monitor with HDMI 2.1 support only met HDMI 2.0 specifications. Instead of a 4K resolution, the panel was limited to 1080p. And the point is that technically Xiaomi has done nothing wrong. It all comes down to semantics and some obscure (and consumer-hostile) guidelines laid out by the HDMI license manager.

In this case, in the eyes of the HDMI gods, Xiaomi satisfied the burying of this little endnote within the conditions: “Due to the subdivision of HDMI certification standards, HDMI 2.1 is divided into TMDS (the bandwidth is equal to the original HDMI 2.0 and FRL The HDMI 2.1 interface of this product supports the TMDS protocol, the maximum supported resolution is 1920×1080, and the maximum refresh rate is 240 Hz.”

Now we get into the technical weeds, but in short, HDMI 2.0 is a subset of HDMI 2.1, meaning the specs are housed in the newer standard. The standards organization even said it would no longer certify HDMI 2.0 and told TFTCentral that HDMI 2.0 “no longer exists” and that HDMI 2.1’s features and capabilities are optional. As long as a monitor supports one of the newer standards, it can be called HDMI 2.1.

As you might expect, HDMI 2.1 is made up of many standards, so TV and monitor makers could theoretically grab the lowest hanging fruit, add it to their (formerly) HDMI 2.0 ports, and stick an HDMI 2.1 label on the box.

The HDMI standards body has even confirmed that The edge that what Xiaomi does is perfectly within the rules and that we all depend on manufacturers to be honest about their products. The problem is, they rarely are.

History tells us that even renowned brands will go out of their way to use the latest buzzwords to push products out. We’ve seen cellular carriers push their way to using pseudo 4G and 5G labels, TV brands selling sets with HD compatibility but without the resolution to display them, and monitors from household names claiming HDR. despite not supporting the official standard.

It’s a frustrating scenario for consumers, who should be prioritized by these standards bodies. Now that HDMI 2.1 is listed in the specs for a TV, that doesn’t necessarily mean it can support resolutions up to 10K, 48Gbps bandwidth and dynamic HDR. And while these were always only theoretical features, we had mistakenly assumed that there was a minimum threshold that we could be comfortable with. Now the minimum includes HDMI 2.0 specifications and could mean a maximum supported resolution of just 1080p.

HDMI 2.1 has been making headlines in recent months for its capabilities on next-gen consoles and gaming PCs, most notably the ability to run 4K games at 120Hz. You miss out on those benefits if you don’t have the right connection and high-speed HDMI cable. Now, even if you think you have the right setup, you may not.


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