What is HDR? It’s a fancy new display technology where a screen panel can go not only dim enough to show inky blacks but also go bright enough to show brighter scenes correctly, thereby showing much higher colour volume. TV makers are using HDR stickers like anything to sell more TVs. New TVs from LG, Samsung, Sony, and others feature HDR. Even new smartphones and tablets such as the LG G6 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S3 feature HDR. However, what certifies whether a device is capable of playing back HDR content?
Just like all new technologies, there are multiple standards, and there’s a bit of format war going on in the display industry. There’s HDR 10 (which is the current de facto standard), Technicolor HDR, Hybrid Log Gamma, SL HDR1, and then there’s Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision is considered to be the most premium HDR standard out there. There are very few devices that are Dolby Vision-certified because manufacturers need to use specialised hardware for that. If a device isn’t made with Dolby Vision in mind, you were out of luck even if your device supported other HDR standards. However, that’s about to change.
Sony’s HDR-capable 4K TV
Dolby Labs revealed to Forbes today that a pure software form of Dolby Vision has been developed and that it can be applied to any device which is fairly capable of displaying HDR imagery. So, if you already have an HDR-certified device, there’s a fair chance that it can receive Dolby Vision feature (as long as the manufacturer is interested in upgrading the firmware of the device). In theory, smartphones, tablets, TVs, gaming consoles, and home theatre systems can receive Dolby Vision feature as a software update. What’s more, unlike HDR10, Dolby Vision doesn’t need an HDMI 2.0a port to make HDR happen – HDMI 1.4 is enough.
Dolby hasn’t yet revealed names of the devices that will receive Dolby Vision feature, but it is possible that devices like the Sony PlayStation 4 (and its variants), Xbox One S, and some TVs that are already capable of displaying HDR content would receive Dolby Vision shortly. Currently, Sony’s Z-series TVs, LG’s latest 4K TVs, and the LG G6 are capable of running Dolby Vision-certified HDR content. Since Dolby Labs is widely known for creating excellent audio and video-related standards, you shouldn’t be surprised if Dolby Vision becomes fairly standard in the future.
The Xbox One S is already out and does 4K, HDR, and sports the cheapest UDB Blu-ray drive