What is HDR? Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR How to Choose? which one is right for you? We will answer it all for you. Here’s everything you need to know.
Here’s Everything You Need to Know about Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR that can help you in buying your next TV or Phone.
HDR Formats including HDR, Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, AHDR, and many others confuse consumers and they don’t know which one they should choose.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, DR or Dynamic Range is the ratio between the darkest blacks and the brightest whites that can be produced by a device.
But How is HDR relevant to humans, and why do you need to understand HDR Formats?
Well, because HDR is the next big thing in any kind of display after the HD!!
Remember How SD content started feeling outdated once we say HD content.
The same difference we will see between SDR and HDR display. Before we move on to comparing Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR, let’s first understand HDR itself.
HDR is the closest we have been to producing images and content that looks real to the human eye. The human eye is good with God’s own HDR. Look at the Night Sky, you can see extremely bright stars and you can also see the extremely dark sky with the same clarity, with quick adjustment your eyes can perceive things in a bright room, and then with a few seconds of adjustment, it can see things with equal clarity in the darker room too, making out all details and shadows.
That’s how advanced the human eye is. The same is with HDR.
Our current TVs and Smartphone Displays, or any display that most of us own, are capable yet they cannot match this level.
Take the example of the night sky that I told you, if you view it on a normal LCD screen, then certainly looking close enough you can see gray pixels beside the bright pixels. It is because the display is greeted with a situation where it needs to show an extremely white pixel, and then the next pixel should be extremely dark.
It struggles, trust me it does.
Dynamic Range is the contrast between the darkest pixel black and the adjacent brightest bright that can be produced. HDR or High Dynamic Range means the capability of having extremely high levels of dark pixels and bright pixels.
The modern OLED displays can do this work far better, as they can individually set the brightness of each pixel, whereas most LCDs have a single backlit that makes pixel precision impossible.
But does that mean all OLEDs are HDR displays?
Certainly, a good OLED display should have a better dynamic range than a similar LED or LCD, but it isn’t HDR still.
So you see where we are heading? U surely can guess the missing ingredient in making the HDR. Just in case you forgot, this post is “Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR vs Others” therefore we need to talk about the HDR formats, which is the most confusing ingredient in the recipe of great display
So now you know the role of HDR formats comes in. Before telling you everything you need to know about Different HDR Formats, I want you to understand what we mean by HDR formats. TRUST ME YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS A HDR FORMAT.
What is the HDR Format?
HDR formats like HDR10, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and HLG, are not file formats like MP4 or MOV, they are metadata.
HDR including Dolby Vision is metadata that is encoded into existing file formats.
This data is what makes HDR what it is. The correct lighting and darkness needed are told to the device.
But how does the device understand this metadata?
The source or playback device needs to be able to recognize HDR metadata to pass it to a display device – a decoder in the display device is needed to produce the visual.
Now some standards are open source, allowing any manufacturer to easily use them, and therefore allowing it to come to even cheaper TVs.
Only Dolby Certified content creators can be licensed to use Dolby Vision encoding – Here is a link to all the supporting documents on the use of Dolby Vision: Dolby Vision for Content Creators
So, you see the major reason for the existence of HDR formats is open source vs Licensed formats.
Now let’s finally jump into Everything You need to Know About HDR formats. It’s going to be super interesting so get ready.
Before telling you the difference between Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, AHDR, let’s gain some knowledge
SDR: SDR or Standard Dynamic Range has less Dynamic Range and often never tries to much adjust the light and dark areas for a better viewing experience
Static HDR: In the Static HDR, metadata for Dynamic Range is provided to the display, and that setting remains constant for the entire video/movie.
Dynamic HDR: Dynamic HDR is the process of adjusting brightness and contrast on scene by scene or even frame by frame basis as and when required and adjusts it many times during the video/movie
Peak Brightness: It is the maximum brightness a display can reach for a short duration of time, the sustained brightness is always less than the peak brightness
Backward Compatibility: (Here) It is the ability of HDR content to be viewed on SDR displays by allowing older displays to show proper content.
Color is very important, humans recognize color better than shapes or words, or anything else, color is so important that big companies even use it for marketing How to Use the Color Psychology in Marketing, they know the value of color, and so your TVs should also have the best colors, as the best of the best scenes and graphics won’t look good without proper colors.
Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs others: Which HDR Should You Get
So let’s jump right in. We now know what HDR is and what are the needs for HDR formats.
Some major HDR formats are already popular, others are a bit less popular/new and we shall cover all of them.
The Different HDR formats we would discuss here are:
- Dolby Vision
The comparison between Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, AHDR can be pretty confusing, have patience and read it through, if you just want a summary head down to the bottom where we made a table explaining everything in a Table
We, Will, discuss every format with its pros and cons and then at the end compare each other
- One of The Best HDR regarding Picture Quality. Heaven for Eyes
- License Based Technology
- Less Adoption Compared to Popular Standards like HDR10
- Not Usually Available in cheaper TVs/Phones
Dolby’s HDR format Dolby Vision comes from the company that we have very well accepted to be the king of surround sound, with their Dolby Audio.
You may ask what’s the difference between Dolby Vision and other formats?
Well, Dolby Vision works on a Scene by Scene basis, and sometimes in fact even Frame By Frame basis.
Dolby Vision and HDR10 are 2 of the most popular HDR formats, and the biggest difference between Dolby Vision vs HDR10 is that HDR10 lacks Dynamic HDR,
This means that this format has amazing granular control over every single pixel ever viewed on your screen. It’s not providing single data for the entire content (a movie for example) but rather really selective data.
What is the meaning of Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision Meaning: Dolby Vision is the branding used by Dolby, to refer to their excellent HDR technologies, Dolby Vision is one of the best consumer HDR standards present in the day.
This allows much better adjustment and fine-tuning in tough situations and really precise control for the Colorists.
Besides this, Dolby Vision has got some great bells and whistles to it too. These Bells and Whistles are an important factor and contribute a lot to the Differences Between HDR formats.
- It Supports 12 Bit Color
- It Supports 10,000 nits of brightness
But Maybe you are not fully aware of these technical terms, so I shall explain
12 Bit Colors in Dolby Vision
Our screens can show a different variety of colors. We have 3 major colors Red, Green, and Blue. But there are shades of each of these primary colors that are mixed to give every imaginable color.
The colors a screen can display are represented in the form of bits. The most popular these days are 8-bit colors.
While jumping from 8 to 10 or even 12 seems like “TINY”.
But it isn’t.
8-Bit color display means the display can show 16 Million Colors, A 10 Bit Display can show 1 Billion Colors.
Modern High-end smartphones and TVs have started to come with 10-bit displays, which means they can serve 1 Billion colors.
Yes, you read that right, that’s a Billion with a “B” in it, a whopping Billion colors…
But what’s even great is that Dolby Vision supports up to 12 Bit colors. Making things future-proof, we won’t reach 12-bit color mass adoption for probably a few decades.
And we haven’t touched 12-bit Display yet.
A 12-Bit display shows a total of 68 Billion Colors
From 16 Million to 68 Billion!!
And Developing content that can be consumed by people in years to come because of high future compatibility is a great thing.
Dolby Vision is the only format supporting 12-bit color, and this is a future-proofing advantage for Dolby Vision in comparison to HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, AHDR
10,000 Nits Brightness
Brightness is measured in a unit called Nits. 1 Nit = 1 Candela per meter sq.
And Candela is the standard unit for Light.
Our smartphone displays at a max reach of about 1200-1500 nits of brightness, which is quite enough, TV displays have far more variations, most OLED displays range between 300-500 nits of brightness.
Dolby Vision supports creating content for up to 10k nits display, which is massive.
That’s work for generations to come.
So Dolby Vision is perfect, it has the Best Visually Appealing Picture, it is good for Video Editors and Colorist and comes with future-proofing allowing content to be working for a lot of time.
The biggest advantage to Dolby Vision when Dolby Vision is compared to HDR10, HDR10+, HLGG, and AHDR is that it supports far more brightness and colors in it ensuring that future display advancements won’t render it obsolete easily.
It’s perfect, right? Why do we need to know about HDR formats if it nails everything?
Well, it doesn’t go well with the price.
It’s not free, it requires licensing to decode the metadata and understand and further product its image.
While the cost of Dolby Vision is little, it is still higher than 0.
Its cost and demand for a highly specced display to handle it do not allow it to become popular at lower levels.
It has relatively less content available.
Overall Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+ have decent content and are growing quickly
For a display to show HDR content the video itself needs to have Dolby Vision metadata, and popular services like Netflix certainly support it, but there can be cases where the Dolby Vision compatibility is lacking for now.
- Greatest Viewing Experience
- Future Proof
- Usually not available in cheaper displays
- Not the widest range of content
- Lacks Backward compatibility
The cost and the relatively lesser content available bring us to the format that has these 2 problems solved.
- Most Popular and Most Widely Adopted Format currently
- Free to use allowing faster adoption even on lower-end devices
HDR10 is the most popular format, big brands have been quick to release TVs supporting this version of HDR.
It’s free to use, so there’s no additional cost for licensing this to be used in their TVs, they just need capable hardware to support it.
It has established some big leads in the TV industry and is growing in smartphones too. The stiff competition between HDR10 vs Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ and others is still a threat to its life due to the much better features available.
It works on a much inferior single metadata or what we call Static Metadata
HDR10 has a single Dynamic range setting applied across the entire video/content. This means the video cannot have specific settings for specific scenes.
It isn’t the most wonderful scene every time, but it is far superior to SDR every time.
HDR10s major advantage in Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ is Mass Adoption. Currently, it is the most popular format and has the highest range of content available. Most of the HDR content you find on the internet will certainly be HDR10 compatible
The existence of a wide variety of content is a significant feather in HDR10’s hat and is a major difference between Dolby Vision and HDR10.
It’s free to use, allowing budget-friendly TVs to also support it.
But don’t go by the name or marketing. Just because a TV can interpret an HDR signal does not mean it will deliver those beautiful colors. It’s just the ability to interpret the signal, other factors like OLED vs LED, or HD vs 4K shall also be taken into account for overall pleasure
Its bells and Whistles are:
- it supports up to 1000 nits of peak brightness
- It supports 10 Bit of color
- It has the widest adoption and by fat the largest content available
But it has one problem, it is not backward compatible. Meaning it doesn’t work nicely with SDR TVs or older displays.
This makes it incapable of DTH services and other broadcastings.
Comparing Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+ the content is pretty good but they have their grey areas. You need to figure out that Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+ have the content that you usually watch and therefore suit you.
- Widely Popular, Cost-effective
- Lots of Content Available
- Available in Budget Friendly TVs and monitors also
- Has decent Future Proofing
- Static HDR is not letting it deliver the full potential
- Lacks Backward compatibility
Till here we have seen the 2 most common names in the world of HDR, that is Dolby Vision and HDR10+, but for complete comparison between Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR, we need to first understand the other uncommon formats too.
Do not worry, we will discuss Dolby Vision vs HDR 10 in-depth and help you choose the right HDR later in the post, just have patience and read on.
- It’s Open Source and developed by Samsung
- It has Dynamic HDR
As the name suggests it’s an extension of HDR10. And boy does it fix the biggest drawback of HDR10
IT HAS DYNAMIC HDR
Yes, it does frame by frame or image by image HDR making it wonderful for content consumption and a perfect viewing experience.
This is a format developed by the King of Displays aka Samsung.
It is publicly available and is free to use. It’s been backed by big companies like Amazon, Panasonic, and 20th Century Fox but its adoption in the consumer market is fairly limited to Samsung products.
It’s quite unpopular right now, though I guess that the advantage of having the best of both Dolby and HDR10 shall Help it grow quickly.
Its quality is maintained and ensured that no random display can be called HDR10+ with the help of a certification and logo program. A display needs to be certified before it can call itself an HDR10+ display.
I know that people get confused about HDR For some people, due to similarities in names.
While unrelated, but still I think a decent number of people get confused between HDR10+ vs HDR+
HDR+ is quite a different thing when compared to HDR10+. HDR+ developed by Google is a technology/algorithm that is used in its smartphones for image processing. It uses it to make Images much better and does stuff like Night Mode and Super Zoom, it’s not an HDR format, and it is certainly not a thing that comes with the display itself. Even if HDR+ sounds similar to HDR10+, the former is just an image processor which is a part of the Camera app shipped with Google’s smartphones, whereas the latter is an HDR format used for Content Consumption.
There’s an overwhelming amount of chaos and noise in the HDR market. But with time only some big formats shall survive and things would become easy, currently, there is no HDR format with a substantial lead over others such that the other formats can be neglected.
HDR10+ is built by Samsung, it is a different name and it’s quite a different format in its entirety
One thing you need to know is that Samsung just builds the format and certifies good displays with HDR10+, but Dolby Vision helps display manufacturers calibrate and make the best use out of Hardware to bring the greatest possible experience, they can help TVs get finely tuned to display the content in the right way. Samsung has nothing like that, so while Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ looks the same in most cases, Dolby Vision may have the advantage in edge cases.
- Dynamic HDR
- Open Source
- Available on mid-range TVs too/latest Samsung Flagships have it too
- Backed by Samsung
- Not as Future Proof as Dolby
- Less Popular
- Not Prefered in Cheaper Price Segment
- Lacks Backward compatibility
- Has Backward Compatibility
- Great for Broadcasters
HLG is an HDR Format that stands for Hybrid Log-Gamma and was developed by UK’s BBC in conjunction with NHK, Japan’s national broadcaster.
As you can see this format is developed by 2 big broadcasters, and therefore it is meant to handle the needs of Broadcasters the best.
HLG’s big feature is a feature that almost every other format we have read. You guessed it: Backwards compatibility
The only advantage HLG has is Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG is Backwards compatibility, and it does it in a way that no one else handles.
Broadcasters send a given content to 100s of thousands of different screens frequently throughout the day. And not all screens are HDR.
HLG formatstitches the HDR and SDR output into one signal.
Broadcasters have a lot of customers that stick to old SDR TVs.
With the help of HLG signals, the HDR and SDR formats are stitched together as a single signal.
If the display is HDR compatible it uses metadata from HDR of HLG, but if the display isn’t compatible with HDR it defaults to using the separate instructions and settings for SDR.
This ensures that SDR viewers do not suffer to give a better experience to HDR displays.
It’s not the most beautiful or the most vibrant image generally because Broadcasters won’t need the bleeding edge of color accuracy, so some acceptable compromises can be observed too.
No one among Dolby Vision, HDR10, or HDR10+ has the capacity of broadcasting.
It is an open-source format, with a capability of up to 4k nits and 10-bit color.
- Backward Compatible
- Open Source
- Available on other HDR displays through Firmware Update, most Samsung HDR TVs after 2016 got the necessary update
- it forgoes metadata that could get lost or out of sync during a live broadcast
- It’s not as visually appealing as HDR10+ and Dolby Vision
- It newest format of all
- 0 content available currently
AHDR or Advanced HDR is developed by Technicolor, they have led movie production and professionals for decades now, and now they want to be in your home too.
AHDR is their bet on the HDR market, they have got enough expertise to even outperform Dolby Vision in terms of Video Quality.
In comparison to Dolby Vision vs HDR 10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR, the weakest contender currently is AHDR, simply because it is yet in the early stages and seems to be dead on arrival.
It was first seen in 2016
It gained a little bit of momentum after LG brought it into their TVs.
The biggest problem has been that even after having a proven track record of Technicolor, the content creators aren’t ready to make content for it.
As there is no content to consume in AHDR, people do not demand it either, and that was a reason that LG decided to drop its support for AHDR in 2020 too.
It supports Dynamic HDR, and can do it pretty well, it isn’t supporting Backward Compatibility.
As a result, it can be called a born dead format, though I have huge hopes from AHDR just because of the backing of Technicolor.
- Comes from a reputable organization
- Dynamic HDR
- No content available
- Not available in most of the displays
- No Backward Compatibility
So we have full knowledge of all HDR formats, now let’s compare Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR based on their Quality, Content, Cost, compatibility
The quality or visual appeal is the most subjective topic usually because some people can have different tastes as compared to yours but in general Dolby Vision is the king with HDR10+ being a close competitor.
Though when comparing the quality of Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ Dolby still is the best.
This is primarily because these 2 formats have Dynamic HDR and require quality hardware to run.
- Dolby Vision: The best when it comes to Video Quality, most of the content that has Dolby Vision also has Dolby Atmos ensuring that you get great audio too. But in general support of Dolby for calibrating displays and overall display hardware quality ensures high standards
- HDR10+: Close competitor and more or less as good as Dolby Vision, developed by Samsung, it’s great but it’s my personal preference to prefer Dolby, usually a similarly priced and specced display there would not be a noticeable difference in HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision
- AHDR: While we do not have any sample or specific content to test AHDR we do not simply disqualify it due to the Technicolor
- HDR10: The Static HDR is a drawback when compared to the above 3 formats but it’s still much better than SDR so we give it a respectable 4th
- HLG: HLG is dynamic HDR too, but in broadcasts, it often has delays and sometimes even losses the metadata altogether, it seems that currently, it isn’t ready to be called consistent enough to be great.
Winner: Dolby Vision is the best HDR technology available currently, followed by HDR10+, While Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ are mostly the same and are equally great, there’s a tiny edge for Dolby.
Which HDR technology can we get in the most economical TVs?
Dolby Vision is a Licensed format plus has high requirements so finding it at less cost is not possible right now.
HDR10+ is free but Samsung does certification, so a less specced TV usually won’t qualify for it.
HDR 10 is open source and it is perfect for this purpose.
Certainly, the experience won’t be what we expect from HDR in a cheap HDR10 TV, but our idea is to find something better than SDR, and I believe that even if the device isn’t having the best hardware a decent 4k OLED screen would still look better with HDR 10 than an SDR TV of the same price.
So Let’s rank:
- It’s a tie between HLG and HDR10 because HDR is an open standard and easy to find, and most TVs capable of doing HDR10 can handle HLG too assuming your TV manufacturer gives the necessary firmware.
- HDR10+ is Samsung’s format and it’s also gaining popularity making it more accessible than ever before. Samsung itself is pushing some budget-friendly HDR10+ TVs to ensure that their format gains market share
- Dolby Vision’s overall Licensing cost isn’t much, but if a company gets Dolby Vision, they definitely are serious with HDR and are not doing it as a side feature, so currently, most TVs with Dolby Vision go the extra mile to get the perfect experience.
Winner: HDR10 and HLG both own this award for their open-source and less complicated software.
This is a battle primarily between Dolby Vision vs HDR10 because the rest of the formats are still in their early stages.
This post primarily compares the content availability of Dolby Vision vs HDR10 vs HDR10+ vs HLG vs AHDR, the format that gives you the largest content varies majorly on what you watch.
If your major content consumption is Amazon Prime or Netflix, then both would work nicely for you
In general, if we rank them, they come like this:
- In Dolby Vision vs HDR 10, HDR10 has the widest content currently, however, Dolby Vision has far better-looking content available. HDR 10 has lots of content available in all aspects due to the overall popularity of HDR10
- Dolby Vision is a close competitor with really most of the content on HDR10 having Dolby Vision too, but still, it misses out in some places and that can be annoying
- HDR10+ this format’s native direct support is fairly scanty, it’s made by Samsung, and majorly found in their product, comparing HDR10 vs HDR 10+ vs Dolby Vision, we see that it’s as if HDR10 and Dolby Vision are in the second lap of the race with only a few feet margin, but HDR10+ is still in Lap 1 trailing by a huge margin. The gap between HDR10+ vs HDR10 and Dolby Vision is pretty big
- HLG is even further behind HDR10+, it’s currently limited to only a few BBCs shows and a few channels and streaming sources
- AHDR is just at the starting line waiting to take its first step
So when we compare the HDR10 vs Dolby Vision the content variety majorly comes down to the personal preference of what content you watch, but anything after that would still take many years to catch up.
Winner: HDR10 is the vision with the widest platform support, Dolby Vision is a close competitor not too far behind
Backward Compatibility or the ability to play HDR content in decent SDR on an incompatible device is lacking by most of the formats.
HLG was specifically and purposefully built to overcome this issue and therefore it leads in this area.
No other competitor comes near to it.
AHDR may have a chance, but again we have no real-world data to back it.
Winner: So give HLG a clean sweep here. Nothing comes even close to it.
So did you cheat by quickly scrolling down and ignoring the hard work I did above? I see what you did, but don’t worry I will give you what you want.
Different HDR formats have different PROs and CONs and therefore I shall suggest you go for HDR10 if you are low on budget and Dolby Vision/HDR10+ if you can afford one.
The logic here is simple, that the above 3 formats have sufficient content to watch, what’s the point of having an HDR display on which 99% of your content is incompatible.
But for the long run, or if you plan to keep this TV for years then I shall rather say postpone buying and see who grows better.
As a smart piece of advice, many TV companies are supporting multiple HDR formats per device too, for example, many LG TVs support Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+ on the same TV.
It can be a safer bet as you have 3 formats on your TV and all 3 can be enjoyed.
But if you can wait a few years, or at least CES 2021 it could be great, because ATSC 3 is right around the corner and that’s the first step of actually bringing HDR possibility into the lives of many.
So here’s a comparison between Dolby Vision, HDR10, HDR10+, HLG, and AHDR.
|Peak Brightness||10k Nits||1k-4k Nits||1k-4k Nits||1k Nits||–|
|Bit Depth||12 Bit||10 Bit||10Bit||10Bit||10Bit|
|Content Availability||Good||Great||Good||Scanty||Non Existent|
|HDR Type||Dynamic HDR||Static HDR||Dynamic HDR||Dynamic HDR||Dynamic HDR|
|Platform Availability||Almost Every Platform with exception of NVIDIA Shield|
Almost every Platform supports it
|Netflix, Vudu, and Apple TV 4k hasn’t supported||Majorly some content for BBC is the only available content||No Content Available|
|Backward compatibility||No||compatibility||Full Support||No compatibility|
Here’s the Image for the above table, just in case you need to share it with your friends or use it for future reference.