2020 has screwed up a lot, including the perceived simplicity of HDMI.
Six generations of identical cables released over 18 years (12 if you count the variants) all connect to the back of your TV in the same way, but are capable of wildly different things.
The PlayStation 5 amplified the problem when it arrived in November, with many fearing that the HDMI included in the $ 750 box could not support 4K, all because it did not explicitly have “ultra high speed” written on the cable.
Ultra-certified cable labels, such as recently issued to Belkin, make things a little easier to understand, but how good are the cables you already have and what do you need to prepare for a 4K future?
HDMI 2.1 set a new standard in 2017 and should have been named 3.0 in my opinion.
HDMI 2.0 ushered in 4K for the mainstream, but in 2020, HDMI 2.1 is taking over.
2.1 more than triples the data rate of 2.0, enabling 10K video, higher frame rates (up to 120Hz), better contrast (high dynamic range – HDR10 +), and a set of smart features like variable refresh rates, that virtually eliminate stuttering for gamers.
Premium viewing for a premium price; $ 79.95 is the price of Belkin Certified One Meter Cable.
The two-meter cable will cost you $ 99.95.
That’s enough for one cable regardless of what you can do, but it will be necessary if you want to get the most out of newer 4K TVs, game consoles, or a 4K Apple TV (which doesn’t come with an HDMI in the box).
Ultimately, higher frame rates shouldn’t affect anyone but gamers.
Movies rarely give up on the classic 24 frames per second standard.
But keep in mind that HDMI 2.1 can only handle 8K at 60Hz (60 frames per second) and 10K at 50Hz; limits that shouldn’t be pushed in the next few years in the mainstream.
HDMI 2.0 is everything the average person will need and since it fell to the forefront, prices have plummeted.
You can find shorter HDMI 2.0 cables on Amazon for as low as $ 10 or less.
Better contrast and higher frame rates will be lost for gaming, but most UltraHD Blu-ray players won’t notice the difference.
HDMI 2.0 made 4K a reality at home in 2013 and is still usable.
They are ideal for storing on older devices or televisions that cannot handle the latest in high dynamic range technology.
The first generation of HDMI is redundant in 2020 and is almost destined for a lot of recycling.
Ditching the red, white and yellow analog cables in 2002 was a revelation, but FullHD is quickly becoming obsolete.
Later versions (HDMI 1.4) can handle a 4K signal but only at 24Hz, which again, is fine for movies, but not enough for gamers or most YouTube videos these days.
Anything below HDMI 2.0 is hampering your entertainment experience in 2020.
If you have a TV that has the ports to handle them (which is another article altogether), invest in the best cables to get the most out of it and prepare your setup for the Smart TV consoles and hubs of the future.
HDMI 1.0 to 1.4 cables still have their place if you’re moving up to a 1080p display, but they’re quickly becoming useless.