Is my new TV about to become obsolete
Is my new TV about to become obsolete?
Absolutely not. If your TV supports 4K UHD resolution and High Dynamic Range(HDR) — or even just 4K — it is far from obsolescence.If you bought your TV within the past couple of years, you’re good to go for awhile.It’s true that HDMI 2.1 opens up a wealth of new possibilities, which we’llget into shortly, but the full benefits of these features won’t be realizedfor many years. The changes are exciting, but it will be years more untilspecs like 8K TV resolution and 4K at 120Hz are anywhere close to mainstream.Bottom line: If you bought your TV within the past couple of years, you’regood to go for a good while.
Can my HDMI 2.0b devices be firmware upgraded to HDMI 2.1?
In theory, this is possible, but it is highly unlikely. Jeff Park, director oftechnology at HDMI LA, informed us that while there are premium chips outthere which can be firmware upgraded, they are extremely expensive and rarelyused by manufacturers. Chances are, your existing HDMI 2.0b devices don’t haveone of those rare chipsets built into them.
High Dynamic Range is already the best improvement to TV picture quality since1080p HD, but it can be better. If you’re at all familiar with Dolby’s versionof HDR, Dolby Vision, then you likely know the reason some reviewers considerit superior to other formats is that it is a dynamic HDR medium. In otherwords, Dolby Vision makes changes to the settings of an image as the imageitself changes. The result is a more accurate, vibrant, and … well, dynamicpicture.The only hangup with Dolby Vision is that it is a proprietary technology andnot every electronics manufacturer wants to pay licensing fees to use it. HDMI2.1 brings dynamic HDR performance to other flavors, including the dynamicversion of HDR10, known as HDR10+ and others, which should bring better HDRexperiences to more TVs and more formats.But wait, isn’t HDR10+ already possible using HDMI 2.0b? Technically, yes, butit’s not an officially supported technology when done over HDMI 2.0b. HDMI 2.1makes it official, which in turn should make it highly reliable.
HDMI 2.0 vs 1.4: The basics
HDMI 2.0 was announced as a standard in late 2013. It got a lot of peopleconfused, wondering if they suddenly needed to throw away their TVs in orderto get on this latest tech trend.As far as tech advancements go, HDMI 2.0 is a pretty friendly one. It’s asmuch a standard of software as hardware, and cables designed for HDMI 1.4systems will work just fine with new HDMI 2.0 devices.What you need to make sure is that both ends of your entertainment chain –your TV and Blu-ray player, for example – support the standard. It’ll meanthey’re geared up for the new standards we’ll dig into shortly. Somepreviously HDMI 1.4 hardware needs nothing more than a firmware update.HDMI 2.0 is a reimagining of the interchange between your bits of homeentertainment gear, one that factors in the immense amount of data required toget high-quality audio and video to something like a 4K 3D-capable TV.HDMI 2.0 itself isn’t really about resolution, though, but bandwidth. Morebandwidth is what makes all of its new standards possible. HDMI 2.0 systemscan transfer data at up to 18Gbps, up from 10.2Gbps in HDMI 1.4.In terms we’re all more likely to get on with, 18Gbps is 2,250MB a second. Fora little more context, normal Blu-rays max out at 54Mbps, or 6.75MB persecond. The HDMI pipe is wider than a dual carriageway.Here are the kinds of goodies that pipe can deliver.
HDMI 2.0 vs 1.4: 4K video at 50p and 60p
HDMI 1.4 introduced the kind of bandwidth required to deliver 4K video, butHDMI 2.0 can dole out 4K video without compromise, at 50 and 60 frames persecond. In HDMI 1.4, the rate of 4K was limited to 24 frames per second.24p and 30p are perfect for watching films, but there are times when the extraspeed of 50p and 60p come in handy. Gaming could make great use of 60pcontent, while more films are being shot at higher frame rates, giving quite adifferent look from that of slow old traditional cinema.The most famous of the lot is Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, which was shot in 48frames per second. We weren’t too keen on the look of 48p, which gave the filmthe look of a low-rent soap opera, but apparently it’s the future.
HDMI 2.0 vs 1.4: Dual video streams to the same screen
Here’s a neat one: HDMI 2.0 supports the delivery of two different videostreams, which can be delivered to the same screen. Exactly what will happento those streams will depend on what the box (perhaps a TV) at the end doeswith them.This improvement is really a pure bandwidth issue. 18Gbps gives a comfortablepipe for two high bit-rate 1080p streams with audio.It sounds like a gimmick, but this adds a hardware standard for somethingwe’ve seen in proprietary form before now. With a 3D TV, it opens up ‘dualview’ TV watching, where you’d use a pair of 3D glasses to deliver twocompletely difference streams to two people watching the same TV.Two people could be watching different TV channels, or one could be gamingwhile the other watches TV. Anti-social? Sure, but the other person wouldprobably just end up playing on their phone if forced to watch the same thingas you anyway. Samsung showed off this exact kind of scenario in action at CES2014. We’d love to see this adopted more widely, especially as the resolutionsplit in a 4K TV would be much less apparent than in a 1080p one.
HDMI 2.0 vs 1.4: Up to 32, 1536KHz audio channels, and Dolby Atmos
HDMI 2.0 makes huge updates to the often-neglected side of AV – audio. Frombeing able to transmit just eight channels, you can now send 32.This is what has enabled the Dolby Atmos standard to be moved over to homecinema receivers. It was once the preserve of just a few super high-end cinemasound systems, but you can now get it in your home.Dolby Atmos is all about giving your much more accurate positional audio,making sound appear 3D for a more immersive cinema experience.Does Dolby Atmos mean littering your lounge with dozens of speakers then, likean Atmos cinema? Thankfully not. Instead, Atmos receivers make use of the muchmore nuanced channel information provided by HDMI 2.0 and an Atmos mix, andthen play with it to provide better spatial audio with a relativelyconventional 5.1-7.2 style speaker setup (with additional height channels).The quality of the audio streams has been improved too. Sample rates now go upto 1536KHz. In a full 32-channel system that means you’d get 48KHz perchannel. That’s decent if not the sort of sample rate that get audio nerdsdrooling. 24-bit, 192KHz is where it’s at for that crowd. Of course, thosesort of frequencies are perfectly possible with HDMI 2.0, just not if you want32 channels of audio.
HDMI 2.0 vs 1.4: Control all your gadgets through HDMI
One of the lesser talked-about features of HDMI is its re-working of CEC,sometimes referred to as CEC 2.0. This stands for Consumer ElectronicsControl, and lets one device send remote control-style signals to another overHDMI.It’s effectively a stand-in for a proper universal remote control system –something that would be handy but is yet to turn up. With HDMI 2.0 you can –in theory – control up to 15 devices with the one remote. It was around inHDMI 1.4 but now it’s better.Only needing one remote control and not having to splash the cash on one ofthose expensive Universal ones? Yes please. Opting for CEC is also moreattractive – in one sense – than using a phone’s IR transmitter as a universalremote (a feature of higher-end phones) as there’s no lengthy setup involved.However, for it to really take off, the manufacturers of the boxes we’re goingto control with CEC need to embrace the standard, and help people know itexists. Or we’ll never get anywhere with it.Andrew Williams is a technology writer, who has contributed to Stuff, WIRED,TechRadar, T3, Wareable and, of course, Trusted Reviews. Here he test andreviews some of newest mobile, audio and camera d…What HDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) IsHDMI ARC (Audio Return Channel) simplifies sending audio from a TV to anexternal audio system. It was introduced in HDMI version 1.4 and works withall later versions.This information applies to TVs from a variety of manufacturers, including,but not limited to, LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and Vizio.
The Benefit of HDMI ARC
HDMI ARC transfers audio from a TV to a home theater receiver with the sameHDMI connection that transfers video from the home theater receiver to the TV.With HDMI ARC, you can hear TV audio through a home theater audio systeminstead of the TV’s speakers without also connecting analog or digital opticalaudio cables between the TV and home theater system.
How an Audio Return Channel Works
If you receive TV signals over an antenna, audio from those signals goesdirectly to your TV. To get the audio from those signals to a home theaterreceiver, connect an extra cable (either analog stereo, digital optical, ordigital coaxial) from the TV to the home theater receiver.However, with Audio Return Channel, the HDMI cable connected to the TV and thehome theater receiver can transfer audio in both directions. In addition,audio sources connected directly to the TV using internet, digital, analog,and, in some cases, HDMI inputs may also be accessed using the Audio ReturnChannel function.Specific HDMI ARC features are provided at the manufacturer’s discretion.Check the user manual for the specific HDMI ARC-enabled TV for details.HDMI.org
How to Activate Audio Return Channel
The TV and home theater receiver must be equipped with HDMI version 1.4 orlater to use Audio Return Channel. Also, the TV and home theater receivermanufacturer must have included it as an option within their implementation ofHDMI.To determine if a TV or home theater receiver has Audio Return Channel, see ifany HDMI inputs on the TV and the HDMI output of the home theater receiverhave an ARC label in addition to the input or output number. It will beassigned to one HDMI input on the TV and one HDMI output on a home theaterreceiver.To activate the Audio Return Channel, go into the TV’s audio or the hometheater receiver’s HDMI setup menu and choose the appropriate setting option.In some cases, Audio Return Channel is automatically enabled when HDMI-CEC isactivated on the home theater receiver.The appearance of the HDMI-ARC setup menu and activation steps in TVs or hometheater receivers may vary. The example shown above is for a Roku TV.
eARC (Enhanced Audio Return Channel) was developed and incorporated into HDMIversion 2.1 to overcome the limitations of ARC. eARC began to be implementedon TVs and home theater receivers in 2019.eARC adds the ability to transfer immersive audio formats, such as DolbyAtmos, DTS:X, and 5.1/7.1 channel uncompressed PCM audio from HDMI-connectedsource devices, as well as all audio from smart TV streaming apps. This meansthat on TVs with eARC, you can connect all audio and video sources to the TV.The audio from those sources can then be transferred from the TV to an eARCcompatible home theater receiver through a single HDMI cable connection.HDMI LicensingTV makers don’t always publicize which audio formats are supported on each TV.With both Audio Return Channel and Enhanced Audio Return Channel activation,steps may also vary. Check your user guide or contact tech support for theexact activation steps and features.TVs and home theater receivers that aren’t HDMI 2.1 compatible cannot beupgraded to accommodate eARC.