Display resolution is one of the first things you will consider when purchasing a TV. Modern TVs come with different resolution technologies to improve your viewing experience. Among them, the most advanced display technology is the HDR.
Currently, HDR produces the best picture quality with detail-oriented images. Not just TVs, many display devices use this technology. The below article provides a detailed explanation of HDR and what it offers to you in terms of visual experience.
What is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. It is the contrast between the darkest and brightest pixels that are adjacent to each other. In other words, the contrast between the brightest whites and darkest blacks.
HDR has this capacity to show the brightest and the darkest pixels on the same screen. It produces images and videos that are more detailed and can show more shades of colors. At present, HDR produces the highest resolution display and is as close to the real-life scene as possible.
Higher detailing also means it requires more data to be transferred. So, you can not play an HDR video on a normal display as it can not process the data. You should have HDR-compatible display devices for this purpose.
What is the HDR Format?
There are different HDR formats like HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision, and HLG. But, these formats are not the same as MP4 or MOV formats. The HDR formats are actually metadata that are encoded into the existing file formats.
The metadata conveys the amount of lighting including the brightness and darkness to the display. This information is what makes the images and videos more detailed.
Some of the HDR formats are available for open source. So, any TV manufacturer can use them. But some formats like Dolby Vision need a license.
Now, before going into detail about the differences between the HDR formats, you need to understand certain basic terminologies. If you are a techie and have a brief understanding of the terminologies, you can skip this part.
Important Terms in HDR Technique
Below are the terminologies that you will frequently come across while reading/hearing about HDR techniques.
SDR – SDR stands for Standard Dynamic Range. It has a lower dynamic range and does not effectively adjust the light and dark areas. As a result, you won’t be able to see detailed images.
Static HDR – In this, there is a transfer of metadata i.e. the display device receives the information of dynamic range. But, it does not adjust the brightness level.
Dynamic HDR – Dynamic HDR provides the best viewing experience. The level of brightness and contrast adjusts for every frame. For every scene, the level of brightness changes. Hence, you can see more detailed videos.
Peak Brightness – Probably, it is self-explanatory. It is the maximum brightness the display can reach.
Backward Compatibility – The backward compatibility allows you to watch HDR visual content on SDR- compatible TVs.
Different HDR Formats
We come to the best part now. We have explained in detail about different HDR formats and what they can offer to you.
Dolby Vision is a product of the popular surround system company Dolby Audio. It provides one of the best picture quality.
Dolby Vision is the only format that has Dynamic HDR. It adjusts the brightness and contrast level on a frame by frame basis. Furthermore, it is also the only HDR format that supports 12-bit color. With this, it can show over 68 billion colors shade combinations. Besides, it also supports 10,000 nits of brightness.
- Best picture quality with detailed visual content
- Adjusts brightness on a frame by frame basis
- Comes with the latest technologies
- Future Proof
- Available only on expensive TVs
- Licensed-based technology, so limited options
- Lacks backward compatibility
HDR10 is the popular HDR format found in a wide range of TVs. As it is an open-source format, most TV brands prefer this format.
When it comes to picture quality, it is only next to the Dolby Vision. You get most of the features of Dolby Vision. It supports up to 10-bit color and 5,000 nits of brightness.
- Good picture quality
- Open source and available in low-budget TVs
- Decent future proof features
- Many TVs use it, hence more options
- Lacks Dynamic HDR
- Lacks backward compatibility
As the name implies, it is an enhancement of HDR10. It overcomes the main drawback in HDR10. It has dynamic HDR. So, it adjusts brightness level on a frame by frame basis so you get the best viewing experience.
Apart from the dynamic HDR, it retains all the features of HDR10.
- Great detailing of images
- Dynamic HDR
- More TV options
- Not found in many low-budget TVs.
- Lacks backward compatibility
HLG stands for Hybrid Loh-Gamma. UK’s BBC in collaboration with NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster developed this. Designed by two popular broadcasters, it ensures that it meets all the needs of broadcasters.
HLG has scored in the area where all other HDR formats lack. It is the only HDR format that has backward compatibility. This format combines the HDR and SDR signals into one output. Hence, you can watch HDR content even on an SDR TV.
- Backward compatible feature
- Maximum options with respect to TV models
- Not the greatest picture quality
- Loss of metadata during transmission
- No future proof features
Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs others: Comparison Chart
We like keeping this simple. So, we have prepared a chart comparing the different HDR formats against standard parameters. You will get a better idea about what each HDR format offers you.
|Peak Brightness||10K Nits||5K Nits||5K Nits||5K Nits|
|HDR Types||Dynamic HDR||Dynamic HDR||Static HDR||Static HDR|
|Backward Compatibility||Lacks Backward Compatibility||Lacks Backward Compatibility||Lacks Backward Compatibility||Compatible|
|Content Availability||Limited||Limited||More content||Most content|
|Tone Mapping||Best||Better||Depends on model||Decent|
|TV options||Very limited options||Only few brands||Multiple options||Multiple options|
Advanced HDR by Technicolor
Not many of you may have heard about the Technicolor but it is in use for more than 100 years. It is available in many formats.
SL-HDR1 is similar to HLG and provides backward compatibility. The SL-HDR2 is comparable to the HDR10 plus and Dolby vision system. Lastly, the SL-HDR3 includes dynamic HRD to HLG based HDR systems.
At present, there is not a lot of content in the Technicolor’s Advanced HDR formats. But, it is fast developing and you can expect a lot of content in this format.
What to look for in a TV with HDR?
Apart from the HDR, you have to consider several features while purchasing a TV. The advent of technology has made it difficult to make this choice. However, we are listing the important features you need to consider to make the right choice.
Resolution is the first thing you need to check while purchasing a TV. We recommend you get a 4K resolution TV. This is because there is more content available on 4K than 8K. Additionally, it costs less than 8K TV.
Bigger display screens provide you with a better cinematic experience. But, also consider the size of your room while making this choice. TVs are measured diagonally and represented in inches.
Apart from the picture quality, audio plays a major role in determining your experience. TV brands have developed their own proprietary audio technologies to improve the sound quality. Go with the one that provides an immersive and multi-dimensional audio experience.
Type of HDR Format
By now, you would have got a brief idea about different kinds of HDR formats available in the market. Based on our comparison chart of them, you can choose the best HDR format within your budget.
The main advantage the modern TVs offer is their ability to connect with other devices. The connection can be either wired or wireless. So, you have to consider the type and number of ports the TV has. When it comes to wireless connections, all smart TVs can connect to other smart devices through your home network.
The latest smart TVs come with numerous features. Some models come with pre-installed apps. So you do not have to download them separately. You will have to consider the user navigation experience as well. Give special focus to these smart features while buying an HDR TV.
HDR in Gaming
Apart from streaming, HDR holds high importance in the gaming industry. This is because of its ability to produce detailed-oriented images. If you want a TV for gaming purposes, an HDR TV is the best option.
Almost all latest games including PC and console games support HDR format. It will give you an immersive gaming experience.
Since the inception of HDR, the technology is growing rapidly. It will continue to grow. More and more TV brands are adopting the technology and enhancing it further. So, it is wise to invest in an HDR TV.
If you want to have the best viewing experience, then you have to go with the Dolby Vision format. Undoubtedly, it provides the best picture quality. However, this is more of future technology and there is not enough visual content for this format.
If you want to watch a lot of content, then you can consider the HDR10 format. All major OTT platforms support this format. Furthermore, this is affordable and has enough future proof features.