Going into 2020 Business, it’s good to reflect on how technology has changed and improved over the past decade. Let’s start with the TVs. The beginning of the decade brought us plasma-screen TVs which, if you didn’t realize by now, were a total flop. However, the latter half of the decade brought us something much better and technologically polished: 4K OLED TVs.
OLED TVs take advantage of contrast in order to bring us beautiful, realistic colors in movies and video games, but the technology also brought along the ability to use “high dynamic range”, better known as HDR.
4K TVs are great, but without HDR, there’s not much that separate them from 1080p TVs. HDR has made high-end LED and OLED TVs something to behold, but what exactly is HDR, and how does it work?
Movies and video games demand color accuracy. Without said accuracy, the movie or video game may look a bit too… “cartoony”; it could also go the other way, and the picture on the TV may look washed out and dull. HDR aims to fix both of these problems by bringing you a color-accurate picture, while at the same time making the colors pop.
On a regular display, darker colors such as black may appear greyer, and while OLED technology fixes this, HDR can make even LED HD TVs have deep blacks and vibrant colors.
How HDR Works
One little tidbit I want to throw out there is that HDR on a TV works differently from HDR on a camera. Not that important here, but I just want to make sure no one is getting confused.
For this section, I’ll be focusing on the two dominating types of HDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision.
Let’s start with the basic HDR10. Most video games and some movies use HDR10 to create a vibrant picture. All HDR compatible TVs use HDR10, as it’s free to incorporate since the technology is open source.
With HDR10, a movie or video game will create a brightness range that can be used during the playing of said content. Throughout the film or video game, the brightness (and with it, the contrast) will adjust depending on what’s on the screen.
This only works because developers and filmmakers mark the brightest and darkest points in the movie, thus setting the range that will be used by the movie and/or game. The software will adjust based off those points.
Dolby Vision is the more advanced version of HDR10, and requires the TV to support Dolby Vision. Not all HDR TVs are compatible with Dolby Vision.
Dolby Vision TVs are backwards compatible with HDR10 content, but not the other way around. With that said, what are the main differences between the two?
Really, there’s not much difference. Dolby Vision holds more potential to bring accurate, vibrant colors. This is because Dolby Vision takes advantage of a TVs hardware and the previously mentioned brightness range in order to create an HDR picture.
Dolby Vision is relatively new, but streaming platforms, such as Netflix,are already producing Dolby Vision-compatible content. For example, A Series of Unfortunate Events, the TV show produced by Netflix,is Dolby Vision-compatible.
A few years ago, companies peddled 4K TVs as the next big thing, but nowadays, HDR makes a bigger impact on the viewing experience for most people. Knowing the types of HDR will make it a bit easier to shop for a new TV, since all these marketing buzzwords can confuse.
And if you plan on watching 4K HDR content, you better hope you have a lot of data on your Internet plan (don’t worry, an unlimited data VPN can help you there).
Companies are constantly improving HDR quality, however. In fact, Samsung just improved HDR10 to HDR10+, which promises even better processing. With this technology still improving, who knows where we’ll end up by the end of this decade.