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Battle for the future of HDR takes off as Samsung, Amazon partner for HDR10+

Why it matters to you

Better HDR technology in an open standard could eventually mean better performance from TVs at lower prices.

HDR TVs are becoming increasingly popular, but there is no definitive HDR technology, leaving many customers confused as to what to buy. HDR10 is an open standard, and because of that, is found in more TVs, while the proprietary Dolby Vision offers more advanced control over video signals, giving it a theoretical advantage. Now Samsung and Amazon have teamed up to introduce a new standard, HDR10+, evening up the gap between the two technologies.

“As an advanced HDR10 technology, HDR10+ offers an unparalleled HDR viewing experience — vivid picture, better contrast and accurate colors — that brings HDR video to life,” said Kyoungwon Lim, vice president of visual display Division at Samsung Electronics. “We’re excited to work with world-class industry partners, including Amazon Video, to bring more amazing HDR content directly to our 2017 UHD TVs, including our QLED TV lineup.”

The original HDR10 standard uses simple metadata that only allows brightness to be set for an entire video. Dolby Vision, on the other hand, allowed for metadata on a per-scene or even per-frame basis, meaning that brightness and other video details could be adjusted for the best results throughout and entire piece of video. HDR10+ adds Dynamic Tone Mapping, allowing for adjusting metadata per scene or per frame, just like Dolby Vision. Unlike Dolby Vision, HDR10+ is an open standard, meaning TV manufacturers don’t have to pay to license it.

Samsung says that all of its 2017 UHD TVs, including its premium QLED TVs, support the new HDR10+ standard. There’s good news if you bought a Samsung TV last year too, as Samsung’s 2016 UHD TVs will be adding support for the new standard via a firmware update currently scheduled to land in the second half of this year.

When it comes to content, Amazon Video will be among the first services to provide HDR10+ programming. Samsung has also partnered with MulticoreWare to integrate HDR10+ into the x265 High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) codec, which is used in many commercial encoding systems, making it easier for video providers to offer the new standard.

“Together with Samsung, we are excited to offer customers an enhanced viewing experience on a broad range of devices,” said Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Video worldwide. “At Amazon, we are constantly innovating on behalf of customers and are thrilled to be the first streaming service provider to work with Samsung to make HDR10+ available on Prime Video globally later this year.”

Moving forward, the same things that drew manufacturers to HDR10 — namely the lack of licensing fees — will likely also attract them to HDR10+, but now that the technology is more on par with Dolby Vision, it will likely be even more enticing. Where it all goes from here is still up in the air, but the battle for the future of HDR TV just got more interesting.