Microsoft expands ‘Designed for Xbox’ program to include HDMI 2.1 gaming monitors and TVs

Buying a display that has all the features you need to play Xbox Series X/S and PlayStation 5 games at their best is a . In addition to 120Hz support, you also need to look out if it supports variable refresh rates and HDR, among other features. Thankfully, Microsoft is taking some of the guesswork involved in buying a display to go along with your new console.

Gaming features for Xbox


The company is expanding its “Designed for Xbox” program to include gaming monitors. Starting this summer, you’ll start to see some displays with a “Gaming Features for Xbox” badge. At a glance, the branding will tell you that a monitor includes an HDMI 2.1 connection and support for features like HDR and a 120Hz refresh rate.

Some of the first displays that will carry the branding include the $1,399 43-inch from ASUS and $950 28-inch , with more to come. Notably one of the products included in the launch lineup is the Philips Momentum 559M1RYV, a 55-inch monitor Microsoft describes as “a TV and soundbar in one,” so the types of panel that end up shipping with the badge may be more expansive than the “gaming monitor” moniker suggests.   

While mostly a branding exercise on Microsoft’s part, it’s still something that should help those in the market for a new display. Monitor manufacturers have been to their products, and the port is necessary if you want to output a 4K image at 120Hz.

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Acer, ASUS ROG, and Philips announce new HDMI 2.1 monitors made for Xbox Series X|S

If you’re looking for a high refresh rate, HDMI 2.1 monitor to use with an Xbox Series X|S (or a PC), then you might like to know that today Microsoft announced three new displays that fit the bill. The new monitors come from Philips, ASUS ROG, and Acer, and each of them will carry “Designed with Xbox” badges on them when they release later this year.

First up is the 55-inch Philips Momentum 559M1RYV (pictured above), which comes with a built-in soundbar made by Bowers & Wilkins. The display itself supports 4K resolution and has a refresh rate of 120Hz, so it’ll be handy for games where the framerate can exceed 60fps. The Momentum uses AMD FreeSync Premium Pro to reduce screen tearing – a feature PC players can tap into as well – and is VESA Certified DisplayHDR 1000.

It certainly seems like the Philips Momentum 559M1RYV is the centerpiece of Microsoft’s announcement today, but that feature set is going to set you back some cash. The Philips Momentum 559M1RYV will run $1,599.99 when it launches later this summer, though, at the moment, a precise release date hasn’t been revealed.

The 43-inch ASUS ROG Strix Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor XG43UQ seems to have a similar feature set as the Momentum display; only it’s offered in a smaller package. Microsoft says that this one will deliver native 4K@120Hz over HDMI 2.1, a 1ms moving picture response time, DisplayHDR 1000 certification, and AMD FreeSync Premium Pro. It also covers 90% of DCI-P3 and has an Xbox picture mode tuned specifically for Xbox Series X|S. Pricing hasn’t been revealed yet, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it’s only slightly less expensive than the Momentum. Look for it to land this October.

For those who want a more traditional gaming monitor and not a TV-sized display, Acer is gearing up to launch the 28-inch Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor XV282K KV. While this is significantly smaller than the other two displays announced today, it still has some noteworthy features, including a 1ms response time, VESA DisplayHDR 400, and support for 4K resolution at 120Hz through HDMI 2.1.

This is probably a good choice for those who split their game time between Xbox and PC – or those with a workstation comprised of multiple PCs – because it has a KVM switch that allows users to switch between multiple PCs while keeping one keyboard, mouse, and monitor configuration. Acer’s Xbox Edition Gaming Monitor is landing this fall with a price tag of $949.99.

Microsoft also confirmed that it’s working with several cable manufacturers to create Designed for Xbox-branded HDMI 2.1 cables for use with Xbox Series X|S. It also highlighted one such cable today by announcing the launch of the Cable Matters Active HDMI Fiber Optic Cable, which clocks in a whopping 32.8 feet (10 meters) and has support for 4K resolution at 120fps. That cable is available today from retailers like Amazon for $99.99.

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HDMI vs. DisplayPort: Which display interface reigns supreme?

The HDMI audio/video interface standard is everywhere: TVs, set-top boxes, media streamers, Blu-ray players, A/V receivers, gaming consoles, camcorders, digital cameras, and even a few smartphones. You’ll also find an HDMI output port in most consumer desktop and laptop computers, as well as an input port on many all-in-one PCs, to enable a gaming console or a set-top box may use its internal display.

Given HDMI’s ubiquity, you might have forgotten about the other digital audio/video standard: DisplayPort. Though you’ll find it alongside HDMI on most late-model, high-end video cards, as well as in Macs and laptops marketed to business users, it rarely appears in Windows PCs aimed at consumers. It’s also rare as hen’s teeth in consumer electronics devices.

Both HDMI and DisplayPort can deliver high-definition digital video and high-resolution audio from a source device to a display, so what’s the difference and why might you want DisplayPort when HDMI is so common? And what does a future with burgeoning USB Type-C ports hold? We’ll answer those questions and more; but first, the tale of how the two standards came to be, and which entities control them.

HDMI and DisplayPort origins

The HDMI (High Definition Multimedia Interface) specification was conceived in 2002 by six consumer electronics giants: Hitachi, Panasonic, Philips, Silicon Image, Sony, and Toshiba. Today, HDMI Licensing, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Silicon Image, controls the spec, but some 80-odd vendors are members of the HDMI Forum. Member or not, manufacturers must pay a royalty for including HDMI in their products. They of course, pass that cost along to you.

The DisplayPort specification was developed by, and remains under the control of VESA (the Video Electronics Standards Association), a large consortium of manufacturers ranging from AMD to ZIPS Corporation—nearly all of which also belong to the HDMI Forum. You’ve likely heard the name VESA in relationship to video before. Most TV manufacturers, for instance, adhere to the organization’s wall-mount standard.

DisplayPort debuted in 2006 as part of an effort to replace two older standards used primarily for computer displays: VGA (Video Graphics Array, an analog interface first introduced in 1987) and DVI (Digital Video Interface, introduced in 1999). DisplayPort is a royalty-free product, but that wasn’t enough to overcome HDMI’s four-year momentum. Computers, with their shorter technology cycles and often greater display needs, were another matter.

Fun fact: Of the six companies responsible for the creation of HDMI, only Hitachi and Philips are not also member companies of VESA.

HDMI and DisplayPort capabilities

HDMI, recently revised to version 2.1, is capable of supporting bit rates up to 48Gbps. VESA even more recently announced DisplayPort 2.0, which can handle raw throughput up to 80Gbps. At the time of this writing, however, DisplayPort 2.0 had not been implemented in any devices; and HDMI 2.1, which makes many of its features optional, has been fully adopted in relatively few real-world products. Current Samsung 8K TVs, for example, use HDMI 2.1’s increased video bandwidth, but they don’t support eARC for audio transport. LG’s new 8K OLED implements both. This scenario is unlikely to change for a while.

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Tech News

MacBook Pro models featuring HDMI output and SD card reader rumored

A new rumor is going around that suggests Apple is gearing up to launch new MacBook Pro models that feature additional outputs later this year. One of the complaints that many MacBook fans have about Apple’s high-end notebooks are the lack of connectivity options. Ports standard on any other computer brand require Apple users to buy expensive Apple accessories like docking stations or dongles.

The rumor, originating with noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, suggests that MacBook Pro models that feature an integrated HDMI port and SD card reader will launch in the second half of 2021. Kuo made his predictions in a letter sent out to investors. He stated that the new notebooks launching in the second half of the year would feature significant design and specification changes.

The two most practical changes noted are the video output and memory card reader. Previously, Kuo noted that Apple was planning new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models featuring several changes. Among the changes he predicts are a return of the classic MagSafe charging connector utilizing a breakaway power cable, the deletion of the Touch Bar, and a new design featuring flat edges.

At the time, he also predicted the return of additional ports for expanded connectivity options. Kuo isn’t the only analyst predicting some significant changes for Apple MacBook Pro notebooks. Analyst Mark Gurman has predicted many of the same changes are coming.

Considering many professional photographers and videographers rely on Mac computers for editing, the return of the SD card reader without the need for a dongle will be welcome. Many Mac fans have hated the Touch Bar, and eliminating it in the new machines isn’t likely to be missed.

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