Credit: Images provided by Microsoft
The home systems industry has been waiting … and waiting … and waiting for a device to support the new HDMI 2.1 specification. The wait is finally over. The new $499 Microsoft Xbox One X gaming console has taken the pole position. For consumers the new HDMI spec promises higher resolution both in terms of video and audio, and a higher refresh rate and frame transport. The latter two improvements are the most important HDMI 2.1 features from a gaming standpoint.
Notworthy Gaming Improvements
Variable Refresh Rate matches the refresh rate of the connected display with the graphics output of the console, helping prevent screen tearing and instead providing smooth visuals. Auto Low Latency Mode checks the TV for a suitable “Game Mode” or a similar setting (often available on modern HDTVs) and automatically switches to that mode in order to prevent input lag while applying image processing.
Historically, Microsoft’s flagship gaming console/home entertainment system has lagged behind the competition in terms of features and exclusive games, but recently the company has made a push to become the “all-in-one solution” that gamers (apparently) desire. Part of this paradigm shift is a new firmware update, set to go out shortly, which will give all Xbox One X consoles the ability to use a few select HDMI 2.1 features.
Those few select HDMI 2.1 features mean you won’t see the benefits of HDMI 2.1 while watching their favorite Netflix Original Series, but if you’re an avid gamer, HDMI 2.1 will improve your gaming experience.
Microsoft showed off the Xbox One X’s newly added capabilities at Computex 2018 in Taipai, with a system engineer from the company explaining the intricacies of the firmware update and what it means for gamers and other tech enthusiasts.
You May Need a New TV
There is one small caveat to new release: If a customer has an Xbox One X, they also need a TV that is HDMI 2.1 compliant.
For the uninitiated, the Xbox One is not just a video game console. It sports dozens of apps, including major media applications like Youtube, Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video, plays Blu-rays, and can act as an additional set-top box so you can watch your favorite channels without changing inputs.