The Best Televisions for the Xbox Series and PlayStation 5 Consoles

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The year 2020 will be remembered for many things, one of which is the launch of two next-generation video game consoles. Traditionally, the most stressful part of new game consoles releasing is trying to secure a preorder for one on launch day. However, it’s 2020 and absolutely nothing this year has been traditional.

Microsoft’s Xbox Series line and Sony’s PlayStation 5 are both out in mid-November and gaming fans are dying to get their hands on them. Both of the consoles have their share of pros and cons, but one thing that both consoles share is the latest advancement in connection standards: HDMI 2.1. If you’re looking for a TV on Black Friday, here’s what to know if you want it to work best with the new consoles.

What is HDMI 2.1?

Currently, most televisions, Blu-ray players, video game consoles and AV receivers come equipped with the connection standard HDMI 2.0b. When advancements are made with HDMI, many shoppers aren’t aware because the industry tends to move in unison so that most devices support the same connection standard. HDMI 2.1 was finalized in 2017, but many manufacturers didn’t start including it on devices until the end of 2019.

The pandemic has caused a widespread shortage in manufacturing and that includes televisions and receivers. As a result, there have not been many devices released this year that have HDMI 2.1 inputs, and the ones that do typically don’t dedicate all inputs or outputs to support it.

Simply put, HDMI 2.1 is a new and much improved way of sending audio and visuals from one of your devices (Blu-ray player, video game console, etc.) to another device (TV or receiver). The technology is backwards compatible, meaning a device with HDMI 2.1 output will still work on older HDMI connections.

Why HDMI 2.1?

The reason for the new connection standard is due to the current HDMI 2.0b limitations, namely in the bandwidth cap of 18 Gpbs. Due to the bandwidth cap, video is restricted to 4K at 60 frames per second (FPS).

With HDMI 2.1, visual information can be in larger quantities and much faster, enabling the devices to handle loads more visual data. HDMI 2.1 can handle bandwidth up to 48 Gpbs, which enables devices to handle visual data like 4K at 120 FPS and even 8K or 10K at 60 FPS. There are three other major elements of HDMI 2.1: Variable Refresh Rate (VRR), Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM) and eARC. These capabilities are not available on HDMI 2.0b (although some HDMI 2.0b does have eARC) and each of them provide an improved experience, namely in gaming.

Is HDMI 2.1 a must?

Quite frankly, no. Although both the Xbox Series line and PlayStation 5 output with HDMI 2.1, they both work perfectly fine with your current HDMI setup. However, gamers wanting to make the most of their consoles will definitely want to seriously think about upgrading their gaming setups to accommodate HDMI 2.1.

Additionally, it’s only a matter of time before HDMI 2.1 becomes the current standard, replacing all HDMI 2.0b inputs and outputs. While that might still be a couple years away, the industry will definitely be moving to HDMI 2.1, and anyone purchasing the new video game consoles will be ahead of the game if upgrading to HDMI 2.1.

Best TVs with HDMI 2.1

As mentioned previously, due to the pandemic, production of TVs and receivers has been awkward in 2020, resulting in many new models this year not fully supporting HDMI 2.1. Many of the biggest manufacturers have only a few models out that have HDMI 2.1, and not all of them are made equally. Here is our list of recommended TVs with HDMI 2.1:

Sony

Sony has two lines that we highly recommend which come with HDMI 2.1: the Z8H models and the x900H models. These models come in various sizes, but the number of HDMI 2.1 inputs doesn’t change by model.

Sony has marketed the x900H models as being “PlayStation 5 ready,” however that is mostly a half-truth. These particular models just received HDMI 2.1 capabilities. Sony had guaranteed a firmware update to enable HDMI 2.1, and that update arrived for some users in mid-October. Sony has said that the firmware update will be pushed to all devices before the launch of the PlayStation 5, so shoppers are relying on that firmware update to arrive by Nov. 12.  The 900h 75-inch is available at Best Buy for only $1,800 for Black Friday.

While we do recommend both of these Sony models, smart shoppers should be aware that, for now, HDMI 2.1 on the 900H model can have issues with blurry text that Sony has stated may not be resolved with future firmware updates.

LG

LG has been actively manufacturing HDMI 2.1 inputs on some of their models since last year, including the 2019 OLED LG C9 models.

LG released their successor to the C9 this year, the CX, which features four HDMI 2.1 inputs. The CX comes in various sizes and is easily one of the best TVs on the market due to its rich features and plenty of HDMI 2.1 inputs. However, it should be noted that the CX can handle only 40 Gpbs as opposed to the 48 Gpbs available via HDMI 2.1.

Additionally, LG has killed all support of DTS sound on the CX, which means if you have any audio sources (Blu-rays, movie files, etc.) that feature a DTS soundtrack, the CX will output no audio. This limitation is set by the TV, so hooking up a receiver will not bypass the restriction if inputting into the TV first. Best Buy had the LG CX 77-inch on sale for pre-Black Friday at $3,499 and we predict it will be that price or lower the week of Black Friday.

Shoppers looking to pick up an LCD TV as opposed to an OLED should check out LG’s Nanocell line, which features plenty of models with HDMI 2.1 capabilities. These TVs aren’t as feature rich as LG’s OLEDs, but are much friendlier on your wallet.

Samsung

Samsung continues to release exceptional TV options for shoppers, including their Q90 line which features one HDMI 2.1 port. There are various Q90 models in the line, and smart shoppers will need to pay particular attention to the details of HDMI 2.1 on each, as not all HDMI 2.1 capabilities are enabled on all Q90 line products.

We highly recommend the Q90T for any gamer looking for a reasonably priced and ultra-bright gaming setup. Best Buy has the Q90T 65-inch for $1,900 for Black Friday.

However, shoppers should be warned that Samsung has been aggressively displaying ads on their Smart TV menus. This can be avoided by not connecting the device to the internet. However, that would extremely narrow the Smart features on the unit.

Vizio

While HDMI 2.1 is definitely the future, it doesn’t mean that you have to destroy your savings account to afford it. There are more affordable options out there, including Vizio’s V series 2020 models.

The Vizio V series 50-inch can be found currently at Best Buy for only $289, however that price comes at a cost in features. The V series models do not include VRR, and they also are capped with a 60 hz screen panel, meaning they cannot do 4K at 120 FPS. So, while this is definitely the cheapest option on the list, it also lacks many key features worth upgrading to HDMI 2.1.

HDMI 2.1 Gaming

While HDMI 2.1 is definitely the new communication standard going forward, it might be a while before the advancements catch up to console gaming. There are only 14 games that will feature 4K at 120 FPS for the Xbox Series line when it launches, and of those 14, only four of them are new titles. Sony’s PlayStation 5 has only five titles confirmed to work at 4K at 120 FPS and only two of those games are new titles.

While these games will definitely look amazing in 4K at 120 FPS, shoppers will need to decide if it’s worth it to upgrade now or to wait until next year when HDMI 2.1 is standard on more units.