To make a long story short, don’t sell 8K
What I mean to say is: don’t sell just 8K. Yes, 8K is among the hottest buzzwords in the custom channel, but the reality is there isn’t much 8K content available and video or home theater customers might be disappointed by that.
However, the latest HDMI 2.1 spec offers enhancements that will make any TV look and perform better – even if that TV isn’t 8K. Consider that an upconverted 4K signal for this year’s Super Bowl helped at least one integrator drive a slew of 8K display sales.
We know tech enthusiasts are willing to pay more for products that last. So show them these products are good for hours of enjoyment today and will stay relevant for years of future enjoyment.
The Next Generation of Gaming Is Now
When it comes to upcoming products supporting the latest HDMI specification, gamers are the first and biggest winners.
Make sure when discussing video with prospective or existing customers you ask whether they or their kids indulge in the latest ultra-realistic gaming experiences.
Consider that these features will be supported by high-end gaming cards as well as the new PlayStation and Xbox consoles:
- 4K/120 frames-per-second for razor sharp motion clarity.
- 8K/60 frames-per-second for the highest resolution and incredibly detailed images to help players see their enemies first.
- Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) to reduce tearing and improve clarity.
- Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and Quick Frame Transport (QFT) to help remove lag and get a jump on the competition.
- Quick Media Switching (QMS) for more gaming and less waiting.
- Dynamic HDR ensures better contrast and a wide range of color and brightness for a realistic and immersive experience.
- Enhanced Audio Return Channel (eARC) to transfer full resolution sound signal, including 3D surround sound formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, from a game system directly connected to a TV to a compatible AVR or soundbar.
Home Theater Is Coming Up Fast
Just like gaming, the increase in HDMI bandwidth required to produce 8K and high frame rate will also dramatically improve video and audio quality.
An easy way to explain the latest HDMI specification to customers is to describe it like plumbing. The bigger the pipe, the more data can flow. HDMI 2.1 offers 48Gbps of data transmission, which is an enormous amount of information.
This big pipe means products will last longer. Your customer might not need the full capability right now, but you can give them the peace of mind they will be able to enjoy pretty much anything coming out in the next several years.
For example, during a TV sale, point out how the latest HDMI specification will improve video quality. There are three key elements of video improvement: image resolution, frame rate and color depth.
- Image resolution is improved by adding more pixels, which provides more clarity. 4K resolution is just over 8 million pixels whereas 8K resolution is just north of 33 million pixels. That’s a pretty huge leap in clarity.
- An improvement in frame rate — or motion resolution — results in smoother, clearer motion in video, which is great for gamers.
- Color depth, which is color resolution. More bit depth means more color shades and more true-to-life images as a result.
In addition to more resolution and higher frame rate, there are enhancements home theater enthusiasts can use right now.
Features like Dynamic HDR, eARC and ALLM are already available on current AV receivers and many existing 4K TVs, so people will not have to wait to start enjoying benefits of the latest HDMI standard.
Take Advantage of HDMI 2.1 Ecosystem & Future-Proof Now
OK, there isn’t much 8K content yet … but, if your customer has the right equipment (TV, source and AVR) and they want to use the latest sources like a PlayStation and an Xbox to take advantage of the new features of the HDMI 2.1 spec, they are more than ready to dive right in.
Now is the time to take advantage of the immediate step-up enhancements of HDMI 2.1. It’s always a better idea to overbuild with the latest and greatest instead of itty-bitty baby steps with new products over the next few years.
Even though people won’t use all the latest features today (like 8K), they’ll be glad they made this investment.
Ultimately, those of us who like to be on the leading edge of audio and video quality don’t want to wait for 8K content to buy into the HDMI 2.1 product ecosystem, including TVs, AV receivers, gaming consoles, and source players.
While nothing is ever truly future-proof, the latest sources and AVRs will last buyers a very long time before they need to upgrade again. And as I always say, “Buy once, cry once.”
Author Phil Jones is Director of Global Training at Sound United