Q. Could you explain the television high dynamic range formats HDR10, Dolby Vision and HDR10+? It is confusing and I am angry there are now three competing HDR standards/formats.
—K.B., Santa Clara, California
A. It is indeed confusing, but there is no need to be angry as there is compatibility between the formats.
High dynamic range (HDR) expands the range of colors and brightness levels a 4K television can display. The program, playback device and display must all support HDR to show the HDR image. HDR10, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are formats for transmitting and displaying HDR material. Most products support at least HDR10.
HDR10 is an open format without licensing costs. Dolby Vision is a proprietary format with licensing fees. Dolby Vision has higher technical specifications than HDR10 and can potentially provide better picture quality, though I think the quality of video mastering and production and the quality of the TV itself has a bigger impact than the HDR format used. HDR10+ is an enhancement of HDR10 that is also free to use and backward-compatible with HDR10. It brings HDR10 capabilities closer to Dolby Vision.
Almost all Dolby Vision programming also supports HDR10. If you stream a Disney+ program broadcast in Dolby Vision, your HDR10 TV will still display it with high dynamic range at the HDR10 level. Theoretically it would look slightly better if the TV supported Dolby Vision, but again your have to consider the quality of the source material and the television being used. Samsung does not support Dolby Vision and they make some of the very best televisions you can buy. With the same Dolby Vision source material a top-of-the-line Samsung with HDR10 will produce a better picture using HDR10 than a competitive mid-level model using Dolby Vision. So for me, HDR10 is a must-have. Dolby Vision is nice to have, but not an absolute must-have.
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