HDR or High Dynamic Range has been an important concept in itself. Audio and video connoisseurs like us have strived hard to understand what exactly it stands for. Just as you have heaved a sigh of relief that you have guessed it entirely, here comes a new standard in HDR. Yes, we are talking about HDR10+ which has been making massive noise around the globe, thanks to the way Samsung has been pushing it with their new Galaxy S10 series. Lets us check out what exactly HDR10+ is and how does it redefine the concept of Higher Dynamic Range (HDR).
What is HDR10+?
Video Source: AV Forums
Before we can explore HDR10+, we will check out what is HDR and HDR10 actually is. This will help create a baseline based on which we will be able to focus our further discussion.
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. The technology is not new, but has been widely used on smartphones and thus has become one of the prominent options. The technology is designed to make your photos and videos look vivid, contrasty and visibly better.
HDR originally started with photos merged into one captured at different exposure levels. It helped improve the dynamic range of your photos. The dynamic range is defined as the ratio of dark to light in a photograph or video. Ideally, HDR tech uses three photos taken at different exposures. An image improvement software (like Lightroom) is then used to glue those images together and highlight the essential features of an image. In essence, an HDR image will be somewhat like how your eyes see it rather than how your camera sees it.
For videos, however, the following are some of the requirements:
- Needs to support a minimum of HDMI 2.0a or Display Port 2.4 (for large displays)
- HDR10 specifications require a minimum 1000 cd/m2 (or nits of brightness)
- Needs to comply with the new “Ultra HD Premium Standard.”
- Either 10 Bit or 12 Bit of color space per channel
- Support for “Wide Gamut Color”
Having understood what HDR does, let us now move to learn more about HDR10+. It can be considered to be similar to the proprietary Dolby Vision standard. The HDR10+ adds more dynamic range and metadata to your HDR portraits.
How does HDR10+ work?
The standard HDR technology adds up the static metadata to the content. This will mean that the parameters are applied at the beginning itself and continue throughout. This causes the bright scenes in a movie look too bright and lose detail, while the dark scenes would continue to look dim.
Adding dynamic data to the images and videos in HDR content (Note: Dolby Vision already does this) the brightness boundaries of the video clip is configured and changed in a frame by frame manner. Thus the full-color range is added to every scene dynamically no matter whether it contains only dark or only light scenes. Though all that may appear to be too technical to understand, application of HDR10+ ensures that you will end up getting the best details in your videos and images.
How do HDR10 and HDR10+ differ from one another? As we have already outlined above, HDR10 is all about static metadata and HDR10+ is what brings in dynamic metadata. Metadata stands for the additional information that is sent along with the video file. These are akin to the secret instructions for showing the dynamic range for the content.
Samsung developed the HDR10+ standard along with Panasonic and 20th-century fox. This was done to expand the HDR10 capabilities and its compatibility for constant tweaking of the dynamic data so that the display will offer you the best possible colors. It is quite similar to Dolby Vision in almost every respect but is provided royalty free in sharp contrast to the former which needs to be licensed by the partners for use.
The HDR10+ Alliance – An Overview
When HDR10+ was initially made available, it had only Samsung supporting it. The other content partner it had was Amazon. Thus HDR10+ initially was not seen as one of the prime options or competition to HDR10 or Dolby Vision.
However, all this changed when the new HDR10+ alliance was formed. The Alliance has three founding partners in the form of Samsung, Panasonic and 20th Century Fox. This alliance has changed the scenario of HDR10+ to a considerable extent. Recently Warner Bros has become one of the new content partners making it one of the prime options.
What are the reasons that make HDR10+ a formidable option?
With a host of formats already available, you may have been confused with a new form that appears out of nowhere and creates chaos in the already muddied realm of video clarity.
But, there are a few obvious reasons that have made it a impressive choice and offer you a few advantages. We will count the benefits provided by HDR10+ in this section.
It is royalty free
Well, that is what should ideally make HDR10+ a great choice by almost every standard. Of course, it is developed by Samsung, but any of the brands can make use of the technology for free. There isn’t any royalty game involved here.
This would be an important factor given the fact that Dolby Vision, a strong competitor to HDR10+ is available as a royalty fee model. The open source nature of the standard is what would make the displays with HDR10+ more affordable in the future.
It enhances your picture quality
The standard makes your picture quality better. The difference is well explained in the above paragraphs already. HDR or HDR10 comes with static metadata, while HDR10+ introduces the dynamic metadata in the realm of bright pictures and videos.
The scene by scene or frame by frame addition of extra layers of information helps your displays produce more vivid and bright images. The dark will no longer be dim on your videos and pictures.
It brings affordability to your TV
HDR10, so far used on your TV screens and displays could only add static data, and thus if you were looking for an extra dimension of clarity on your screen, you needed to opt for high-end TVs.
The ability to opt for HDR10+ without having to pay the hefty royalty fee will enable the manufacturers to provide the compatibility even on the low end or low budget TVs or other displays. So, if you are looking for a decent HDR experience on your TV and do not want to spend a fortune – the HDR10+ is an excellent option.
HDR10+ is relatively easy to create. Samsung has stated that building the HDR10+ standard is a natural mastering process. Of course, there are no sources to prove this as the companies will not be willing to share their experiences in a public platform.
In any case, if we can consider it to be accurate, it goes without saying that content creators will tend to be more inclined towards a more straightforward option for mastering their content. Given the fact that Dolby Vision is a royalty model and maybe a little challenging to learn, content creators will bend towards the cheaper and more comfortable options. This can indeed an added advantage that HDR10+ will be able to offer you.
HDR10+ offers freedom to developers
There have been issues that display manufacturers, and content creators face with Dolby Vision. The technology is a little prescriptive, and you need to abide by the guidelines even after paying them the requisite royalty. In a sense, it does not offer you the level of freedom a content creator would look for.
HDR10+ takes a giant leap here. Unlike the locked in approach that Dolby Vision provides you, the HDR10+ is what would offer complete freedom for the display manufacturers and content creators alike. Such freedom will ensure that you have access to excellent performance and mass market adoption.
Which devices Support HDR10+?
Well, that was all about HDR10+ and what it has on offer. But, when will the technology come to a device near you? The TVs set-top boxes, Blu-Ray players and similar other devices will need to have a firmware update for the tools to handle it. Moreover, you also need suitable content that supports the functionality.
Visit the HDR10+ official site to see the complete list
In any case, all the Samsung HDR TVs developed in 2018 onwards have the functionality enabled on them. You can expect a similar trend on the TVs that Samsung will be launching in 2019 as well. As for another partner Panasonic, if you own any of the TVs from the manufacturer – you may have received the firmware update. The Panasonic 4K Pro TVs like EX750 LCD, and the EZ952 and EZ1002 OLED models have already received the update now. The TVs launched in 2018 have also received the update. We expect the new TVs launched in 2019 to come with the HDR10+ compatibility enabled straight out of the factory.
Even Philips supports the HDR10+ technology on its range of TVs. Panasonic’s UB9000, UB450, and UB150 4K Blu-ray players have been offered with the HDR10+ support. The older versions like Oppo UDP-203 or the UDP-205 4K player have recently received the firmware update supporting the HDR10+. Sony and LG have not moved towards HDR10+ as yet and still staying with Dolby Vision. We do not have any information as yet about when will they are likely to make a shift towards HDR10+.
When it comes to smartphones, the compatibility with HDR10+ will be available on Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10+. They have been the first smartphones to bring up HDR10+ on a smartphone. Other players have not yet announced any new devices with the HDR10+ compatibility. You can expect vivid colors and an excellent contrast on the AMOLED screens on these two devices. More on those two devices later.
The Smartphones with HDR10+
As things stand as of now, we have only two devices launched with compatibility for HDR10+ display standard. Both the phones belong to Samsung brand, and there are no other devices available as of now that support the technology.
Samsung Galaxy S10
The phone is powered by 1.9GHz octa-core processor and offers you 8 GB of RAM. The phone is powered by Samsung Exynos 9820 SoC for the international market, while the US version will provide you with a Snapdragon processor. The 6.10-inch screen display provides you access to 128 GB of internal storage capacity. You can expand the storage capacity by another 512 GB using a microSD card.
On the imaging front, you will find the 12 MP primary camera along with the 16MP Ultra Wide and a 12MP shooter with 2x Zoom on the rear. On the front, you will have access to 10 MP shooter for selfies. The phone runs on Android Pie 9.0 with the Samsung Experience skin. The 3400 mAh battery capacity should last through a day given the battery optimization offered by Android Pie.
Samsung Galaxy S10+
The Galaxy S10+ shares almost all the features as observed on the Samsung Galaxy S10. The new flagship for the year 2019 comes with a screen size of 6.4 inches and is powered by 1.9 GHz processor. You will find the Exynos 9820 handling the tasks you throw at it while the Snapdragon SoC will power the US versions.
You have access to 128 GB internal storage coupled with 8 GB of RAM. You can expand the storage capacity by another 512 GB through the use of a microSD card. The camera specifications remain similar to Galaxy S10 at 12+12 MP (dual-pixel) +16 MP rear cameras on the back. However, on the front, the phone offers a 10+8 MP dual camera setup for the realistic selfies.
The smartphone runs on Android Pie and is powered by a battery capacity of 4100 mAh.
It would be worthwhile to mention that Samsung will also launch a 5G variant of Galaxy S10. The phone is likely to be launched for select markets initially, and we expect the model to support HDR10+ as well.
How Will it Move ahead and what future do we expect for HDR10+?
Well, the technology is entirely new, and it is competing with an established player like Dolby vision. Of course, it is quite common to expect a format war between the two.
However, from what we can see from happenings over 2018 and now – the so-called war has been relatively soft. The content is king here, and some of the movies and videos have been focusing on one particular technology and offering the best performance on the TVs and displays that support the technology.
Panasonic has been a prime example of what can be achieved in such a situation. It strives to provide support for all available formats. Thus you find a Panasonic TV supporting both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. But, Samsung is firmly seated on the HDR10+ and not willing to budge.
The concept of HDR10+ did not practically pick up with great fanfare, but now with the alliance, it now appears it has become a formidable competitor to Dolby Vision. Dolby Vision has greater support in terms of the content that is available with the format.
As things stand as of now, it is practically no way to predict a win for any of the formats as such. The best that can happen to us is if we can see manufacturers and content providers opt for the approach that Panasonic has gone with. This will help us get the best of both worlds until any one of the formats stays for more extended and pips out the competition, that is in case such an eventuality comes to the fore.
The Concluding thoughts
That was all we have for now concerning HDR10+ technology and what changes it is set to bring to your displays. The standard has redefined the concept of perfect blacks and brightest whites. Posing a stiff challenge to the existing standards like Dolby Vision, the new HDR10+ standard will indeed make the truly dynamic HDR compatibility a household name with its focus on affordability and real value.
Would you like to chip in with any information on HDR10+ or the devices powered by the new display standard? If you have anything to share concerning the whole concept, do share your thoughts, experiences, and opinions with s through the comments section here below.