When it comes to high dynamic range (HDR), you generally have two options: Dolby Vision or HDR10. Dolby Vision currently seems to be king, but if companies want to use it, they need to pay to license it. HDR10 is an open standard but doesn’t support many of the key features of Dolby Vision, so while many TVs offer the tech, it might not look as good. There are other, less popular options like Hybrid Log Gamma, but Dolby Vision and HDR10 remain the main options. Then there is HDR10+, an open standard that rivals Dolby Vision in its features, but is only available in select Samsung and Panasonic TVs. At least it was until now.
This week, HDR10+ Technologies, a joint venture founded by 20th Century Fox, Panasonic, and Samsung, introduced a program that will declare manufacturers’ products as HDR10+ certified, provided that meet certain standards. Once those standards are met, the manufacturer will be able to put an HDR10+ logo on their products. Presumably, Samsung and Panasonic will be the first brands to take advantage of this logo certification program, but others will likely follow.
As the plus sign in the name indicates, there is much more to HDR10+ than there is plain old HDR10. At the start of a video, standard HDR10 sends metadata to the TV that lets it know it’s displaying HDR content. HDR10+ goes further, using dynamic tone mapping to essentially describe to the TV how to display a given image on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis. This lets the content creators have much more direct control over how a movie or TV show looks and can make a big difference.
Dolby Vision also offers this level of control, which is part of the reason so many TV manufacturers have opted to use the technology. The easy availability may lead to TV manufacturers adding it to their TVs, but only time will tell if it will actually replace Dolby Vision, especially since it is capable of 12-bit color, while HDR10+ only supports 10-bit color. The easy guess is that many TV manufacturers will opt to support both, instead of one or the other.
Then there’s the issue of content. Late last year, Amazon — an HDR10+ partner — added HDR10+ support to a number of titles on Amazon Prime Video, but for the time being, content is much more limited than standard HDR10 or Dolby Vision. It will take better hardware support for more content providers to start using HDR10+, and that’s exactly what this new certification program is supposed to do.