Change to Dolby Vision HDR means it may come to a wider range of equipment

Dolby Vision
With High Dynamic Range (HDR) quickly showing that it is more of a noticeable upgrade in TVs than 4K resolution, more and more manufacturers are building it into their models. The two most prominent HDR standards are HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and until now, HDR10 has been the go-to for many manufacturers as Dolby Vision requires dedicated built-in hardware. Now, however, Dolby’s HDR solution has also become available in pure software form, meaning it could be on the way to many more devices, Forbes reports.

That alone would put Dolby Vision on an equal footing with HDR10 in terms of how easy it is for a manufacturer to add it as a firmware update, but there’s something else that gives Dolby’s technology a leg up. While HDR10 requires an HDMI 2.0a connection, Dolby Vision works on the older HDMI 1.4 standard, meaning that it could come to even older hardware. This doesn’t mean your old TV will suddenly be able to display HDR, but it could mean that your old game console, set-top box, or streaming hardware might become HDR-capable via a firmware update.

In order to show this, Dolby has demonstrated Vision running on an original PlayStation 4. This seems to be an indication of Dolby’s initial focus on implementing Dolby Vision in software — game consoles — but the company has said that other products could be supported. “There are implementations that can run Dolby Vision in software, certainly in the console space but also in the TV SoC space,” the company told Forbes.

When questioned on whether Dolby Vision running in software could be added to a number of devices including TVs, the Apple TV, and Android TV devices, the company confirmed that all of these options were possible. We’ve already seen announcements of Dolby Vision coming to products that have already made their way to the market, but previously it wasn’t clear whether these products had the necessary hardware built-in but not the firmware in order to make it work, or whether a licensing issue prevented them from shipping with support for the technology.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Dolby Vision will suddenly become the new standard for HDR. For one thing, several companies are backing HDR10 as it is an open standard, not a proprietary technology like Vision. Then there is the issue of cost: Even without the hardware requirement, Dolby still charges a license fee for its technology. If nothing else, this likely means that budget-priced TVs will often stick to HDR10.

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