What is HDMI 1.4, 2.0 and 2.1: how do they differ?

What is HDMI

HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) is a connectivity standard designed to transmit high-quality digital audio and video between compatible devices. This technology began to be developed in 2003 and has since received several updates. These revisions have allowed it to adapt to the emergence of new formats and standards for multimedia files.

HDMI 1.4 is the oldest, 2.0 the most common and 2.1 the most advanced and expensive of all to date.

It is worth noting that despite being two decades old, there are currently only three versions of HDMI technology. The design of ports and connectors on devices, cables and adapters has not changed, but the input and output quality has. Thus, today we can distinguish, in chronological order, HDMI 1.4, 2.0 and 2.1.

The different HDMI upgrades are compatible with each other. However, when you use a cable or adapter, it must match the type of HDMI integrated in your smart TV, gaming monitor, game console, computer, speakers, etc. Otherwise, the transmission quality will be limited to the minimum of the standards you use. Below, we explain the reason.

Differences between HDMI 1.4, 2.0 and 2.1

HDMI technology has changed along with the different audio and video formats and resolutions supported by the various compatible devices. Also, the differences between each HDMI version focus on four key aspects: resolution, bandwidth, refresh rate and additional features.

– HDMI 1.4: was the first type of HDMI and was released in 2009. Today, this is the most basic standard of all and is capable of transmitting video at a maximum resolution of 1080p (full HD) and 120 Hz or 4K at 30 Hz. This version has a bandwidth of 10.2 Gbps and can carry multichannel audio and 3D format. It is still available on devices such as the original PS4.

– HDMI 2.0: is the version that saw the light of day in 2013 and the one that currently integrates most modern equipment (mainly 4K TVs) that are accessible to all types of users. The HDMI 2.0 bandwidth is 18 Gbps and has maximum capacity to play videos in 1080p at 240 Hz and 4K at 60 Hz.

Like its predecessor, HDMI 2.0 has support for the 3D format. In addition, a novel feature of this standard is the fact that it incorporates HDR technology, multi-view mode (MHL), among other additional features.

– HDMI 2.1: released in 2017, HDMI 2.1 is the most powerful and, for the time being, least common version. Logically, through an HDMI 2.1 connectivity it is possible to transmit content in all the resolutions listed above.

However, this version has been manufactured to be able to enjoy audiovisual material with a maximum resolution of 8K at 60 Hz or 4K at 144 Hz. In addition, HDMI 2.1 features dynamic HDR, Automatic Low Latency Mode (ALLM), Quick Frame Transport (QFT), among other features.

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