High-Dynamic Range, or HDR, is easily the most desirable feature to look out for when hunting for a new TV. And just like every new format standard that enters the industry, it’s hellishly confusing. Right now manufacturers all attempt to line up to various definitions of HDR, which do a poor job of indicating how well the TV in question is able to reproduce the effect. HDR10 and Dolby Vision were the acceptable high-end standards to look for, but Samsung is now adding a third entry into the fray.
Coming to all 2017 4K sets and older ones via an update, HDR10+ is essentially Samsung wanting to replicate Dolby Vision without paying the licensing fees. Just like Dolby, HDR10+ improves HDR quality by using “dynamic metadata” that’s been encoded into video beforehand. What it allows the TV to do is better adjust for light and dark scenes on a frame to frame basis. Standard HDR10 without this metadata could sometimes force dark images with light spots well below the brightness level they were mastered for. HDR10+ will alleviate that.
Up until now, Dolby Vision was the only standard that supported this and hence required manufacturers to license the technology for use in their sets. Companies such as Sony have already taken the plunge, but in classic Samsung fashion they aren’t taking the bait, and opening the flood gates with more open adoption polices for HDR10+. Dolby Vision still manages to be better overall (with standard provisions for 12-bit colour ranges and maximum brightness levels of 10 000 nits), but they’re more future focused requirements. For most sets now, HDR10+ will likely be a more appealing target.
That still means that source video will need the metadata baked in, which is why Samsung is working directly with MulticoreWare and Colorfront to start supporting the change. MulticoreWare is particularly important, considering their new x256 codex is already being used by UltraHD Blu-Ray manufactures, Netflix and more.
What does this mean if you’re sitting scratching you’re head over a new TV purchase? The same that it always does. The TV space now is in a very uncertain, rapidly changing phase, which makes trying to predict the future tricky. Don’t feel short-changed if you’re now stuck on HDR10, but be mindful of what’s out there if you haven’t yet made a decision.