HDR Technology Guide
In the following chapters, we will talk to you in simple words about HDR technology, why it is so important on modern Smart TVs, and how it is implemented through the most popular technologies, namely HDR10 and Dolby Vision. In the final chapters, we will show you some TVs with the two technologies and our opinion on the quality offered by the two technologies and why it is better to focus on one over the other.
What is HDR
HDR technology identifies Wide Dynamic Range (this is the meaning of the acronym from English), which is a much wider range of colors compared to that normally obtained with a standard shot.
To be able to admire this riot of colors we must reproduce content shot with HDR cameras (maximum quality) or reproduce content to which an HDR filter has been applied in post-production (lower quality). If the content is available in HDR, simply play it back on an HDR-compatible TV to benefit from the enhanced color gamut. Not all HDRs are the same! As often happens in the technological field, two different implementations of the technology have been developed: HDR10 e Dolby Vision, both with pros and cons (which we will show you in the following chapters).
What does HDR10 stand for
With HDR10 we identify the starting technology of HDR, the one with the greatest support and the greatest compatibility since it is available for free (with an open-source license).
With this technology, we will obtain a maximum brightness of the images equal to 1000 nits and we will obtain static metadata: this means that the application of HDR takes place by taking only the initial scenes, to then be applied to all the other scenes. To curb competition Dolby Vision was released the HDR10 + update, which provides dynamic metadata and significantly increases the maximum brightness for a scene.
HDR10 is free so it is very popular in YouTube videos but also on streaming platforms such as Amazon Prime Video e Netflix. From the point of view of the TV stand it is a benchmark of Samsung TVs, which only support HDR10 and HDR10 + (rejecting any type of support for Dolby Vision); in addition to Samsung we find HDR10 on virtually any TV on the market which boasts the initials HDR on the package.
What does Dolby Vision stand for
With Dolby Vision, we identify a proprietary technology (therefore applicable only upon payment of user licenses) with which it is possible to take advantage of HDR with higher image quality.
With this technology, we will get a brightness always higher than 4000 nits and dynamic metadata, which allow HDR to adapt better in the most colorful scenes during playback. This technology is undoubtedly the best currently available on the market but the presence of a license to be paid for each use has hampered its use (at least initially); to this, we add that HDR10 + and Dolby Vision are very similar and we will hardly be able to grasp the difference between the two technologies (which is very evident if you make a comparison between HDR10 and Dolby Vision). The evolution of this technology is called Dolby Vision IQ and it offers even more dynamic range and brightness, even if it still hasn’t spread like the first.
The diffusion is lower than HDR10 but it is clearly outclassing HDR10 +, which on paper is its main rival in terms of quality: despite the licenses to pay Dolby Vision is supported by all high-end TVs manufactured by LG, Sony, TCL, Hisense, Panasonic, and Philips, while Samsung is completely missing for commercial choice. Speaking of multimedia content you can currently find Dolby Vision movies and TV series on Netflix and Disney +, with some content also available on Amazon Prime Video.
If we want to focus on an HDR10 TV, just buy any TV with the 4K HDR acronym; if instead, we want to try evolution HDR10+ we recommend that you go for a high-end Samsung TV like the Samsung Serie Q64T QLED, available on Amazon for less than € 600.
This TV supports HDR10 and HDR10 + and, thanks to Quantum Dot technology and advanced Local Dimming, will allow you to benefit from a complete viewing experience even without Dolby Vision support.
If, on the other hand, we are looking for a TV with full support for the Dolby Vision technology, we suggest you take a look at LG OLED TV AI ThinQ, available on Amazon for less than 1200 €.
On this TV we have full support for both Dolby Vision technology and the new Dolby Vision IQ implementation, so we can enjoy the best of HDR on compatible content (4K Blu-ray and HDR content from compatible streaming services); in addition to Dolby Vision, it also supports HDR10, so as to be able to reproduce all the contents produced with this technology.
If we don’t want to spend all this money but we try a Smart TV that supports both HDR technologies, we suggest you take a look at the Hisense 50U71QF, available on Amazon for less than € 800.
At an all in all reasonable price, we will have a 50-inch TV with support for HDR10, HDR10 +, and Dolby Vision, so as to be able to reproduce any content with a wide dynamic range.
As we have seen, behind the HDR acronym there is a concentration of different technologies that are not equal to each other, indeed in open contrast: this obviously does not benefit the user, who will never know what type of HDR technology his TV can manage. If we don’t want to get lost in the technical datasheets, just choose a modern Smart TV that supports at least HDR10, so you can play practically any content in streaming or on the 4K Blu-rays in circulation. Video quality purists, on the other hand, must be very selective and “ignore” Samsung, focusing only on TV models that support Dolby Vision or Dolby Vision IQ.
To take advantage of HDR on our television we must reproduce the right content: in this regard, we invite you to read our guides How to use 4K on Smart TV e All the ways to watch Netflix in 4K UHD. To find out other parameters to know before buying a Smart TV, we invite you to read our in-depth analysis How to choose and buy the best Smart TV.