Do you want to buy a new TV, and are confused by the many acronyms floating all around the place. You have terms like 4K, UHD, OLED, QLED, HDR, Dolby Vision, and so on.
These words can confuse the best in the business. Let us now try to decipher the meaning of some of these acronyms to help us make an informed choice.
HDR is a ubiquitous acronym used by TV manufacturers all over the world. There are different variants of this term like HDR10, HDR10+, and so on. You should know what these acronyms convey. Let us discuss them one by one
HDR – High Dynamic Range
What is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Does it sound more confusing than ever? Don’t worry because, by the end of this article, this concept will be clear to you.
Why does this happen? The reason is that the TV has a limited dynamic range. You cannot compare the TV technology with what your eyes can do.
A lot of processing takes place after filming an event. It reduces the information transmitted to match the technical limits imposed by your TV.
The standard TV can put out around 100 to 300 nits of brightness. (One nit should roughly be equivalent to the light provided by one candle). Theoretically, your HDR TV can deliver up to 5000 nits.
Hence, one can sum up that HDR is all about increasing the contrast, ensuring greater brightness, and a wider colour palette. It brings the picture quality to as close as real life as possible. Hence, your eyes can perceive darker blacks and brighter whites.
There are different types of HDR such as HDR10 and HDR10+. We shall dwell on these aspects later on in this article. Before that, let us see why HDR is right for your TV.
What is so good about HDR?
HDR enables your TV to display the darkest of blacks and the brightest of whites with a higher degree of clarity. Hence, it becomes easy for you to view outdoor events like sporting and other telecasts where sunlight can pose problems with reflection.
Similarly, your horror movies look explicit with the viewer being able to distinguish between the darker shades. In addition to these details in the shadows and highlights, the colours will be more vibrant and more lifelike.
You will be able to distinguish between different shades of the same colour in the same way you do in real life. Thus, we can sum up by stating that an HDR TV will display more natural and real pictures that a regular SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) TV.
How do you know if your TV is HDR compatible?
How do you define an HDR TV?
HDR is all about contrast and colour. Let us start with the contrast aspect.
Contrast is the difference between light and dark. The greater the difference, the higher are the contrast levels. You have to consider two components here, the peak brightness level and the black level.
Peak brightness refers to how bright your TV can go. You measure it in nits. As described earlier, one nit equals the intensity of one candle. A regular TV has a peak brightness level of around 400 nits whereas a true HDR TV should have 5000 nits.
Similarly, a TV having a peak brightness level of 400 nits would have a black level of 0.4 nits. The primary difference between these two levels is the contrast ratio.
An HDR TV should be able to process a 10-bit colour. It is also known as deep colour. When we say 10-bit colour, it includes over a billion individual colours.
Blu-ray uses 8-bit colour. It amounts to nearly 16 million colours. The 10-bit colour compatibility allows the HDR TVs to produce a vastly expanded range of colour shades thereby ensuring that the images look as realistic as possible.
OLED vs LED – Does it affect HDR?
When it comes to displaying technologies, you have the OLED vs LED debate. Traditionally all LED TVs come with an LCD screen and LED backlights. These LEDs illuminate the screen. They are capable of producing high peal brightness levels. Therefore they present the best opportunity to create HDR compatible TVs.
OLED technology is different in the sense that it produces light on its own. However, OLED technology is not a viable option for HDR because it is not able to produce brightness of the same intensity as the LED TVs.
The LED HDR TV manufacturers can abide by Standard One whereas OLED TV manufacturers can conform to the second standard. Hence, we can say that LED TVs will give you an HDR TV with higher levels of brightness while OLED TVs are capable of displaying HDR images with deeper blacks.
If you have an HDR TV, can you automatically watch HDR?
HDR on Mobiles
Nowadays, people use their mobile phones for viewing the internet and other content. People watch content from providers like YouTube and Netflix on their mobiles. Therefore, the mobile phone manufacturers have introduced HDR in their latest models, especially the high-end phones such as Samsung Galaxy S9, LG G7 ThinQ, and the iPhone X.
Different types of HDR
There are five different varieties of HDR namely, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, Dolby Vision, and Advanced HDR by Technicolor. We shall look into these aspects in detail.
HDR10 is the first format of HDR. It is an open source format that every HDR TV can handle. HDR10 has been adopted by many manufacturers, service providers like Amazon and Netflix, and the Blu-ray Disc Association. The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) stipulates that HDR10 should satisfy the following standards.
- 4:2:0 Colour Sub-sampling
- 10-bit colour depth
- BT.2020 colour space
- HDR10 supports up to 4000 nits peak brightness with a current 1000 nit peak brightness target.
The general rule is that all 4K TVs in the market should feature HDR10. Hence, your TV will be compatible with 4K Blu-ray discs, 4K streaming content, and 4K players. This TV should offer a better viewing experience than ant 4K TV without HDR.
As on date, there is no single settled standard for the electronics industry. Hence, you have HDR, HDR10, and so on. Dolby Vision is also one such HDR standard.
Initially planned for Dolby Cinemas, Dolby Vision HDR combines HDR video with Dolby Atmos sound in an attempt to counter IMAX cinemas. However, you can also adapt Dolby Vision for home viewing.
The fundamental difference between Dolby Vision and HDR10 is that the former allows for the addition of dynamic metadata and adaptation of the HDR image on a frame-by-frame basis. It should result in a potentially much-improved image.
The Dolby Vision is an adaptive technology as compared to HDR10. The HDR10 applies its parameters scene-by-scene every time you change the camera angles.
Critical differences between Dolby Vision and HDR10
Which TVs have Dolby Vision/HDR10?
You can see that Dolby Vision is the more capable of the two technologies. However, you might not find it in the new HDR TV you have just bought.
Leading TV manufacturers like LG have announced Dolby Vision but the majority of players in the market such as Samsung, Sony, and Panasonic support HDR10.
HDR10 is the most adopted standard in the market. Blu-ray players and set-top boxes support HDR10. However, things can change very soon with more TV manufacturers and service providers offering Dolby Vision.
Which one should you prefer, Dolby Vision or HDR10?
Both the technologies are useful. It depends on your preference. If you wish to have the best content, you should opt for Dolby Vision. If you belong to the type who would like to wait, watch, and then buy, you should stick to the HDR10.
We have seen HDR10 and Dolby Vision in detail. Now, Samsung has come up with its take on technology with HDR10+. You also have Amazon stating that it supports this new standard. Let us see why HDR10+ is getting more of the attention today.
HDR10+, an open standard is a Samsung creation. It is available on all Samsung HDR TVs since 2017. HDR10+ is an improvement on the HDR10 as it uses dynamic metadata instead of the static metadata used by HDR10.
It ensures that you can dynamically alter the brightness of individual frames and scenes throughout the particular show. It allows you to change the brightness levels in real time depending on the choice of the director.
As it involves constant innovation, the HDR10+ technology has attracted Amazon. They are now the first streaming service provider to work with Samsung to make HDR10+ available on Prime Video globally.
As HDR10+ uses dynamic metadata, you can equate the technology with Dolby Vision. It is a competitor to Dolby Vision. Hence, you will not see any Samsung TV with Dolby Vision.
Samsung has also announced a partnership with Panasonic, 20th Century Fox, and Warner Bros. Philips has also joined the HDR10+ bandwagon for its 2018 models.
You have the Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as compatible with HDR10+. Samsung is also contemplating using HDR10+ on its QLED TVs.
HLG – Hybrid Log Gamma
The prime criteria for watching HDR content are that the broadcasts should be HDR compliant. It is why HLG or Hybrid Log Gamma is the most important of all HDR formats. It is used with TV broadcasts.
HLG is a result of a collaboration project between BBC and NHK. The objective is to deliver a more convenient HDR solution for the broadcast world.
The best aspect of HLG is that it combines SDR and HDR into a single feed. The HLG-compatible 4K TVs decode this feed and show HDR images in their full glory.
Almost all the major manufacturers of 4K TVs like Samsung, Sony, and LG have confirmed HLG-ready sets for 2018. The 2016 and 2017 models will receive a firmware update thereby ensuring HLG support.
BBC has already started broadcasting in 4K and HLG as it streamed the 2018 World Cup and 2018 Wimbledon Championships in 4K and HLG on iPlayer.
The advantages of HLG are as follows
- As it combines both SDR and HDR images, you can also play the feed on SDR screens as well. There is no compulsion to have the HDR or the HLG-HDR compatible screens.
- The HLG ensures delivery of one-size-fits-all signals in one bitstream in the VP-9 or the HEVC compression formats.
- It is also available over HDMI.
- It does not consume precious broadcast bandwidth.
- It can fit into the 10-bit production workflows.
How does HLG work?
How can you watch HLG?
Can you watch HLG content on all HDR-capable TVs? Unfortunately, the answer is NO. The HDR TV should recognise the logarithmic curves that HLG uses. However, the modern-day TV sets support this technology.
BBC intends to use it more in the future. At present, the broadcasts are through iPlayer. Maybe the 2019 Women’s World Cup might be the first event to be broadcast live on HLG. Or it could be the 2020 Summer Olympics.
There are other HDR formats like the Dolby Vision or HDR10+, but HLG is the best when it concerns 4K HDR TV broadcasts.
Advanced HDR by Technicolor
We have seen the different formats of HDR. These formats are going to rule the world shortly.