HDMI 2.1 has been little used by 2020 TVs, but this year it seems that the standard will also arrive in lower price ranges.
HDMI 2.1 was one of the hot topics in the TV world last year. At first it was difficult even to understand which TVs really supported them, for a confusion born from bad communication, first of the HDMI Forum, then of the TV manufacturers themselves, who have not been able to explain what HDMI 2.1 really is and how it works. This standard was born with the intention of offering a flexible platform to television manufacturers, giving them the possibility of integrate only some of the features available, after all, some of them go far beyond the needs of 4K televisions.
Then there have been cases like that of LG, which used HDMI 2.1 with reduced bandwidth on the OLED 2020 range. In practice, nothing changes in terms of functions, but clearer communication would have been more correct. In short, so far HDMI 2.1 has experienced troubled growth, but with the new TVs on the way, that is about to change.
HDMI 2.1 in the mid-range?
This first period of life of HDMI 2.1 was not the happiest as we have seen. 2021 must therefore be the year of confirmation, also facilitated by one increased public awareness on what are the innovations that this standard brings with it.
However, the expansion in the use of HDMI 2.1 must necessarily go through a more massive implementation in the products, arrived last year with the dropper, just think that Sony and Panasonic didn’t have OLED TVs with HDMI 2.1 in their price list. In this sense, Samsung has led the way to the entire sector, since last year it also brought the standard to models costing less than 1000 euros, from 50 to over 75 inches. The Korean giant, leader of the TV market, is ahead of the others in this respect and the 2021 range can only confirm what has been seen in the recent past.
LG was also among the first companies in the TV world to focus on HDMI 2.1, offering them also on products costing less than 1000 €. The whole OLED range can count on complete support for the standard (net of the reduced band), the same thing for high and mid-range LCDs, only the cheaper models do not have it.
Last year’s big absentees were Panasonic and, incredibly, Sony. Panasonic, with its focus on the world of cinema and viewing quality, was certainly in no hurry to bring a TV with HDMI 2.1 to market. Sony on the other hand, with the launch of the PS5, has lost a great opportunity.
Many enthusiasts would have liked to buy a new Sony TV together with the console, but faced only one model compatible with this standard, the XH90 that we reviewed a few months ago, a good LCD but certainly not comparable to the levels reached by the OLED range of the Japanese house.
Fortunately, the prospects for this year are very different for both brands. Panasonic will have to show openness towards HDMI 2.1 to try to recover an audience, that of gamers, who have often moved to other shores to find the characteristics they are looking for in a TV, also bringing a quality of vision that has proven itself in this years at the top of its category in the film industry.
Sony on the other hand, in all likelihood, will bring HDMI 2.1 into its new OLED range, at the same time expanding support to other LCD models, perhaps at a lower end, the one that generates the highest sales volumes. In this way it could exploit the synergy with PS5 to capture the attention of a huge fanbase around the world, many of which have been orphaned by the new console due to the lack of availability.
In short, if 2020 was the year of the arrival of HDMI 2.1, 2021 will be the confirmation of this standard, destined to spread more and more in the next period.