After CES 2020 there has been some confusion over HDMI 2.1 support in Sony 2020 TVs. Sony has now confirmed and clarified details relating to HDMI 2.1 ports and features to FlatpanelsHD.
HDMI 2.1 in Sony 2020 TVs
As FlatpanelsHD reported from CES 2020, two of Sony's new LCD TV ranges for 2020 will feature an HDMI 2.1 port capable of receiving 4K at 120 frames per second (4K120) - and 8K60 for 8K TVs. These are the 8K Z8H (Z8H) and the 4K X900H (XH90) ranges.
Last year's Sony 8K Z9G (Z9G) will carry over into 2020 and also feature an HDMI 2.1 port for 4K120 and 8K60.
In addition, X900H (XH90) will be the first Sony TV to offer support for HDMI 2.1's VRR (Variable Refresh Rate) and ALLM (Auto Low Latency Mode). The former is variable refresh rate for smoother, lag-free gameplay via a PC or game console (must also support VRR). The latter allows the TV to automatically switch into 'Game' mode when it detects a game via HDMI. These features will be added through a future software update for X900H (XH90) only.
Sony's A8 OLED as well as X950H (XH95) and X850H (XH85) LCDs will not feature an HDMI 2.1 port capable of 4K120 but they will feature a single optional HDMI 2.1 feature that can be supported on HDMI 2.0 ports. This feature is eARC (enhanced Audio Return Channel), which supports lossless audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD (with/without Atmos) and DTS-HD MA (with/without DTS:X). HDMI eARC is also supported in most other 2020 Sony TVs and some previous TV models.
One source of confusion has been Sony's decision not to include an HDMI 2.1 port in its X950 (XH95) range, leading some to speculate that it can be firmware updated. This is not correct, according to Sony.
HDMI 2.1 specified features in Sony 2020 TVs
Sony Z8H (ZH8)
Sony A8 OLED
Sony X950H (XH95)
Sony X900H (XH90)
Sony X850H (XH85)
Sony Z9G (ZG9) 2019
* (+ 8K60)
* via later update
PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X
ALLM is a nice addition but not a huge deal, whereas 4K120 and VRR have the potential to improve the gaming experience markedly together with next-generation game consoles such as PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Both new consoles have been confirmed to support up to 4K120.
Microsoft has also confirmed VRR for Xbox Series X while Sony has yet to comment on the matter in regard to PlayStation 5.
HDMI eARC will be an important feature with next-generation game consoles if you own a AV surround receiver without HDMI 2.1 passthrough (meaning all existing and current receivers). You will lose 4K120 and VRR if you loop the HDMI signal through a HDMI 2.0 receiver. You must therefore connect next-generation consoles directly to the TV via HDMI 2.1 and use the HDMI eARC port to return audio to the receiver (must support eARC, too). Or alternatively upgrade to a HDMI 2.1-capable AV receiver.
Xbox One S and One X support ALLM. PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro do not.