TECH TIPS - HDR EXPLAINED

WHAT IS HDR?

You might have seen HDR advertised as a feature of TVs, 4K Blu-Ray players and other devices. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. In its simplest terms it is a technology that features increased contrast between the highlights and lowlights of an image making colours ‘pop’ more and providing an enhanced viewing experience with maximum visual impact.


IS HDR THE SAME AS 4K?

HDR is separate to 4K but due to them both being fairly modern technologies they are often linked together when buying Blu-Ray Players, TVs and games consoles. Certain providers such as Netflix, Sky and Virgin support HDR alongside 4K when broadcasting 4K content. 4K, as you will discover in our Video Resolutions FAQ, refers to a specific resolution whereas HDR is more concerned with accurate colour reproduction and contrast.


WHAT DO I NEED FOR HDR?

To get HDR at home you will need a TV and Media player (e.g. games console, Blu-Ray player or set-top box) which supports HDR. High speed HDMI cables will also be required to deal with the large amount of bandwidth HDR uses. Any other devices between the TV and media player, for example any extenders, splitters or switches, also need to support HDR.


IS THERE MORE THAN ONE FORMAT OF HDR?

In the world of technology things are rarely simple and if you have seen devices advertised with HDR10, HDR10+ or even Dolby Vision then it can all get a little confusing. Currently (as of June 2020) there are four different varieties of HDR as listed here:

HDR10 – the original and most common form of HDR. This standard uses static metadata meaning the brightness boundaries are set at the beginning of the TV show, film or game and do not change throughout.

HDR10+ - Created by Samsung but now found on many different brands of TVs and monitors, HDR10+ allows for variable metadata to be used which means the brightness is set on a frame-by-frame basis, enabling the full colour range to be displayed even in scenes which are almost completely dark or light.

Dolby Vision – Similar to HDR10+ but created by Dolby.  With dynamic metadata roughly the same results are achieved as with HDR10+ but manufacturers pay a license to Dolby. Most LG TVs support Dolby Vision.

HLG – An HDR format developed jointly by the BBC and NHK (Japanese broadcaster). HDR10 TVs will be compatible with this format.

Thankfully more than one format can be supported by a device and content source. Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Apple and Disney+ support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision.


WHAT ABOUT USING HDR WHILE GAMING?

HDR gaming is currently supported by the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro and Microsoft’s Xbox One S and One X. Both Sony and Microsoft have already confirmed that the next generation of consoles, PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, will support HDR.  Most AAA or graphically intensive PC games also support HDR10 and Dolby Vision.