Samsung eARC update promise for 2019 Q series soundbars & smart TVs yet to be fulfilled
Audio Enhanced Channel (ARC) is the digital channel used by smart TVs to send audio signals to an A/V receiver or soundbar over an HDMI cable. Over the years, this method has proven to be good enough to transmit bandwidth of up to 1Mbps.
Although this is about three times better than older methods of carrying digital data, anything above 5.1 audio format and hi-res soundtracks encoded in formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X are a no-go zone for ARC.
As you may have guessed, this is where eARC steps in. It’s part of the latest HDMI 2.1 standard and it’s here to deliver the best possible audio resolution, this time exceeding 1Mbs bandwidth.
Both devices (TV and soundbar) must support eARC but not necessarily have HDMI 2.1. Several 2019 Samsung 8K TVs (Q900RB/Q950R) come with HDMI 2.1 support, but since the new standard hadn’t been certified at launch, Samsung couldn’t tout HDMI 2.1 and eARC support for that matter.
Luckily, it only takes a software update to enable the feature on supported devices. Samsung reportedly promised to release this update to eligible soundbars and smart TVs in the Q series in May 2019, but to date and new eARC soundbars at the CES 2020 to go with, this update hasn’t arrived.
In early November 2019, Stephen Withers, a freelance journalist specializing in TVs and audio products, claimed the much-awaited Samsung eARC update would be released in the middle of the month. When the update didn’t show up, he said it was still undergoing compatibility tests.
Below is a screenshot of a Twitter thread in which he talks up the Samsung eARC update.
Initially, it had been claimed Samsung would push the eARC update to its Q60R, Q70R, Q80R, and Q90R soundbars, but as seen in the screengrab above, Withers said the Q60R may miss out on this update when it arrives in December 2019.
Disgruntled owners of not just eligible Samsung soundbars but also 4K and 8K smart TVs in the 2019 Q series have taken to Samsung community forums, Twitter and Reddit to vent their anger at the lack of communication from Samsung regarding the eARC update.
What’s even more frustrating is that when asked about it, Samsung U.S. support says they cannot speculate on the eARC update, which could as well mean the 2019 Samsung soundbars and smart TVs won’t get this feature as promised.
We will be keeping an eye on the developments around this story. Things could get more interesting now that the 2020 soundbars allegedly come with eARC support out of the box. Could this mean Samsung wants you to buy the new models? We should find out soon.
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