What Is 'Fake' HDMI 2.1? Here's What We Know

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A recent report by TFTCentral, prompted by an 'HDMI 2.1' monitor listing, has uncovered some surprising news around what constitutes an HDMI 2.1 certification for displays.

HDMI 2.1 has been one of the most exciting developments in tech since it has allowed for VRR, ALLM, much larger bandwidth to handle 4K at 120hz and more.

HDMI 2.1 monitors have been in huge demand, especially from gamers who have secured themselves a PS5 or Xbox Series X, and they do a great job of giving people that next-gen experience.

However, now it appears that the HDMI 2.1 label itself is not guaranteed to deliver everything we'd expect to see from either an HDMI 2.1 TV or monitor.

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What Is 'Fake' HDMI 2.1?

Fake HDMI 2.1 refers to a monitor or TV that is labelled as HDMI 2.1, however, does not have what we would typically understand as HDMI 2.1 capabilities.

Recently, a query was brought about by an 'HDMI 2.1' monitor from Xiamoi prompted a story by TFTCentral exploring what constitutes an HDMI 2.1 monitor.

In short, the monitor was labelled as an HDMI 2.1 display, however, on further investigation, they reported that it actually only had the capabilities of an HDMI 2.0 monitor.

Upon realising this, they reached out to the HDMI Licensing Administrator for clarity and discovered that features of HDMI 2.0 are now a sub-set of HDMI 2.1.

They also discovered that new capabilities and features associated with HDMI 2.1 are optional.

That means features such as VRR, ALLM, FRL, and higher bandwidths, all features we associate with HDMI 2.1 monitors, are optional when it comes to labelling a display as HDMI 2.1.

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The article does read that 'if a device claims compliance to 2.1 then they need to also state which features the device supports so there is “no confusion”', however, it is easy to see where the confusion can be had.

Opinion: A Needlessly Confusing Approach?

As TFTCentral highlights, Xiamoi has actually followed the rules laid out by HDMI, however, what is difficult to understand is why HDMI 2.0 had to be discontinued as a term for displays with HDMI 2.0 capabilities.

When I think of an HDMI 2.0 display, I think of a display that's great for 'old-gen' gaming, but I may want to check out an HDMI 2.1 TV if I want to get the most out of next-gen, especially if I'm after 120hz 4K gaming.

The difference between HDMI 2.0 and 2.1 was easy to navigate, and now, the waters have been muddied, making it tougher for those who may not be as well versed in tech to understand.

Understanding technology should be easy for the consumer, and in my view, this only makes things more difficult.

We hope that brands will be clear about what their monitors or TVs are capable of doing, and we're confident that many will be, however, now more than ever we'd advise checking the specs as closely as possible to avoid disappointment.