What is HDMI 2.1a?

03/01/2022, hardwarebee

The umbrella organization for HDMI standardization that includes dozens of giant companies, is expected to announce at CES 2022 – a new standard called HDMI 2.1a. Four years after the previous standard was announced, a new standard will come into our lives, and it is expected to bring a significant improvement to our viewing experience and simultaneously the TV life easier.


The new device that will be presented at the exhibition will come with Source-Based Tone Mapping (or SBTM), a new feature that will allow the presentation of HDR and SDR content in higher quality. The feature will mainly improve the way the mapping of shades in HDR is done today by distributing the load not only on the TV, but also on the source from which content is streamed – whether it is a streamer, a computer, or a gaming console.


It is important to note that SBTM is not another sub-standard of HDR, but a feature that is expected to improve image quality by eliminating the need for users to perform manual HDR calibration. This is done by streaming the content to perform independently and thus improve both the viewing experience and the user experience.


The new standard will only now be released and therefore, will not be included in recently bought TV sets or consoles. However, according to reports the HDMI Forum will allow TV makers and consoles to perform a firmware update to 2.1a thus enabling support for whatever it brings.


So far, no manufacturer is committed to supporting the new standard despite the benefits it brings to the table. This was also the case with Standard 2.1 and older standards – and in practice users depend only on the mercy of the manufacturers.


Another problem arises because HDMI standards are set not only by the HDMI Forum but by another organization called the HDMI Licensing Administrator which once a new standard comes out cancels the previous standards – meaning when HDMI 2.1 became the official standard in 2017, all devices came with standards 2.0 automatically became HDMI 2.1 standards – even if they did not include all the good that came with the new device. And so it will be with 2.1a, and you will have to check that the devices you connect really support the new standard – by verifying the features they offer.

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