Many new TVs, tablets, phones, and other gadgets support HDR. Support for this standard means brighter colors and more attractive images overall, and overall HDR formats are becoming more and more important. But what is HDR itself and what are the differences between its different formats?
What is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The term basically refers to a technology that allows monitors to display a wider dynamic range than the standard dynamic range, or SDR. But what is the dynamic range itself? In simple terms, dynamic range is the difference between the darkest dark parts and the brightest light parts of the image.
Overall, the wider the dynamic range, the more attractive the image quality. For example, if the dynamic range of the display is high, more detail is displayed in brighter images, which doubles the attractiveness of the images. Non-HDR images can look dull compared to the real world, but HDR videos are closer to the real world in terms of brightness and variety of colors.
HDR has improved significantly over the years, and over time, with the improvement of TVs and monitors in general, we will probably see the emergence of better HDR formats. In general, the screens have become brighter over time, which makes it possible to display more realistic images.
What is HDR10?
As we said, there are different formats for HDR. HDR10, HDR10 +, DolbyVision, and HLG formats are the most popular formats available, the most common of which is HDR10.
In general, almost any monitor that supports HDR is compatible with the HDR10 format. This means that most HDR monitors should at least expect support for the HDR10 format. It is a free format and is used by popular streaming services such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, and others.
This format supports 10-bit color depth, which means it displays much more colors than 8-bit SDR images. In fact, 8-bit images can display approximately 17 million colors, but 10-bit images can display more than 1 billion colors. Some TVs and monitors support 12-bit color depth, which means they can display 68 billion colors.
The maximum brightness of this format reaches 1000 nits, which is one of the reasons for the decrease in attention to this format in recent years. Most high-end TVs these days are capable of delivering brightness well above 1000 nits. HDR10, on the other hand, uses something called static metadata. Simply put, this means that a set of data is sent to the monitor at the beginning of the video. The advantage of this metadata being fixed is that it takes up less bandwidth than formats such as DolbyVision that send frame by frame data.
What is HDR10+?
Dolby Vision is better than HDR10, but since it is a proprietary format, companies have to pay to use it. This led to the advent of HDR10 +. HDR10 + does not catch up with Dolby Vision in terms of technical features, but it offers more attractive features than HDR10. This format still supports 10-bit color depth, but its maximum brightness reaches 4,000 nits.
Many new TVs these days support the HDR10 + format, but among other gadgets, it is not very popular and the volume of content compatible with it is lower than HDR10. The ultimate goal of this format is to become a bit of a competitor to Dolby Vision over time and increase in popularity.
What is Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision is another popular HDR format developed by Dolby. Due to the exclusivity of this format, companies have to pay a fee to use it. In other words, unlike HDR10, it is not a free format and therefore some TVs and monitors do not support it. Of course, the volume of content compatible with this format is increasing day by day, and for example, we can refer to the content of streaming services such as Netflix, Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus and other services.
Dolby Vision offers several important advantages over other HDR formats. For example, it supports 12-bit color depth and is theoretically compatible with a maximum brightness of 10,000 nits. Of course, there is currently virtually no content that can make the most of this format, so Dolby Vision’s vision for the future is much brighter than other HDR formats. Finally, display technologies can possibly surpass the maximum power of Dolby Vision, but this will not happen in the near future.
Unlike HDR10, Dolby Vision uses dynamic metadata. This means that for each video frame, different data is sent to the display, thus improving the image quality. Although a lot of bandwidth is used for this, it ultimately has a great effect on the appeal of the video. It should be noted that HDR10 + also supports this feature, but in general, the volume of content based on this format is less than Dolby Vision.
What is HLG?
HLG has taken a different approach than other HDR formats. First of all, this format was developed specifically for live broadcast signals by the BBC and NHK, Japan’s national television. Unlike other HDR formats, HLG does not use metadata to specify how the image is displayed on the TV. Instead, HLG picks up an SDR signal and places a layer of HDR information on it.
This means that if the TV does not support HDR, it will only display the SDR image. But TVs that support HDR can use this format to display brighter and more attractive images. In this format, not much attention is paid to the dark surfaces of the image, and therefore the dark parts do not show much detail.
This format is still in its infancy and therefore there is not much content for it. We have to see in the coming years whether this format will be welcomed by TV networks and TV companies.
Is HDR for 4K monitors only?
These two issues have no direct connection with each other. 4K refers to the screen resolution, but HDR has mainly related to the color range that the screen shows. Most 4K TVs support some form of HDR, but some 1080p TVs do.
How to watch HDR content?
If you want to watch HDR content, you need a few things. First of all, you must use a TV or monitor compatible with one of the HDR formats. Each of these formats has its own characteristics, which means that if your TV supports HDR10 +, you will not be able to enjoy the benefits of the Dolby Vision format.
You must also find content that is compatible with the required format. These days, the volume of content compatible with Dolby Vision and HDR10 + is much higher than in the past, although this type of content is usually high. Finally, we need to mention the importance of the HDMI cable of the player that connects to the TV, which must be based on version 2.1 to be able to provide the bandwidth needed to transfer HDR10 + or Dolby Vision data.