TV brands claim HDMI 2.1 features – some lie!


Confused – there is quite a difference between HDMI 2.1 features over HDMI 2.0 inputs and genuine HDMI 2.1 features and inputs.

The majority of 2020 and many 2021 TVs offer ‘HDMI 2.1’ features like VRR (variable refresh rate), ALLM (Auto Low-latency mode), and eARC but are only able to process 4K@60Hz data streams associated with HDMI 2.0. No, it is not true HDMI 2.1.

Hisense has taken the lead to identify which of its 2021 TVs support genuine HDMI 2.1 inputs and features. This includes its U90G 8K Mini-LED, U9G 4K Mini-LED, and U80G 8K ULED.

How can you tell true HDMI 2.1 inputs?

While Hisense is taking great care via its website and point of sale to ensure there is no customer confusion, many other brands intentionally obfuscate this. And Hisense also wants you to know that you need at least two HDMI 2.1 ports – one for the eARC connection to a soundbar and one for the new PlayStation 5 or Xbox.

Essentially it supports uncompressed 8K@60Hz and 4K@120Hz over a 48Gbps Ultra-High-Speed HDMI cable. This is vital to support the new Xbox and PlayStation 5 and play new games in HDR (Dolby Vision and Atmos). It is also is part of the latest silicon chip – a firmware update cannot turn it on – so don’t believe it is coming to any HDMI 2.0 TV.

The HDMI 2.1 feature set includes:

  • Higher video resolutions, including 8K@60Hz and 4K@120Hz for immersive viewing and smooth fast-action detail. More Info
  • Dynamic HDR ensures every moment of a video is at its ideal values for depth, detail, brightness, contrast and wider colour gamuts—on a scene-by-scene or even a frame-by-frame basis. More Info
  • The Ultra High-Speed HDMI Cable supports the 48G bandwidth for uncompressed HDMI 2.1 feature support. While it is backwards compatible, HDMI 2.0 or earlier cables are not forwards compatible. More Info
  • HDMI 2.1 eARC simplifies connectivity, provides greater ease of use, supports the most audio formats, and highest audio quality (high-bitrate audio formats include DTS Master, DTS:X, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Atmos and more.). It ensures full compatibility between audio devices and upcoming products. More Info
  • FRL (Fixed Rate Link) is a signalling technology supported only in HDMI 2.1. It is necessary to achieve higher uncompressed resolutions such as those above 4K@60Hz and the ultra-high-speed bandwidths up to 48Gbps.
  • Enhanced gaming features ensure an added level of smooth and seamless motion and transitions for gaming, movies and video. More Info They include:
    • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) reduces or eliminates lag, stutter and frame tearing for more fluid and better-detailed gameplay. More Info
    • Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) allows the best ideal latency setting for smooth, lag-free and uninterrupted viewing and interactivity.  More Info
    • Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency for smoother no-lag gaming and real-time interactive virtual reality. More Info
    • Quick Media Switching (QMS) for movies and video eliminates the delay resulting in blank screens before content shows. More Info
  • HDMI Cable Power enables active HDMI Cables to be get power from the HDMI Connector without attaching a separate power cable. This makes connecting and using active HDMI Cables as easy as using passive wired HDMI Cables. More Info

GadgetGuy’s take

You will generally only find genuine HDMI 2.1 inputs on flagship TVs with screens that can support genuine 120Hz refresh (that is not the smooth motion rating). These will be 4 and 8K OLED, Mini-LED, and true FALD LCD panels.

Non-gamers may say, so what? HDMI 2.1 is necessary if you want to experience everything 4K or 8K can offer. The difference between compressed and uncompressed Dolby Vision and Atmos is tangible.

Here is a basic list of 2021 TVs with at least one HDMI 2.1 port

  • LG B1, C1, G1 and Z1 OLED, Mini-LED QNED90/95/99, range, and LG Nano 85/09//95/99
  • Sony A80J, A85J A90J Bravia and X90J OLED
  • Samsung (HDR10+ – no Doly Vision support) QN85A, QN90A, QN91A, QN95A, QN800A, QN900A, Q80A, Q70A, The Frame
  • Hisense U90G 8K Mini-LED, U9G 4K Mini-LED, and U80G 8K ULED
  • TCL X728/825/925-series

GadgetGuy has an HDMI Guide here.