HDR10+: the new HDR standard that's taking a leaf out of Dolby's book


Update: It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the fledgling HDR10+ standard. First we had the news there’s a ‘possibility’ that Netflix will support the format in the future, and then Samsung TVs got the ability to stream content in HDR10+ content from Amazon Prime Video. Read on for a complete rundown of how the new format works. 

Original article continues below…

We’re only part of the way into the era of HDR televisions, and we already have way too many standards to be dealing with. First came HDR10, then Dolby Vision, and more recently Hybrid Log Gamma and Advanced HDR. 

If you already thought the situation was confusing then buckle up, because you’re going to have to get familiar with another standard pretty soon. It’s name is HDR10+, and it wants to bring the same advanced functionality of Dolby Vision to an open standard. 

Essentially what this means is that the players behind HDR10+ want to get the same Dolby Vision goodness without having to pay a licensing fee to Dolby, and what that means is scene-by-scene HDR mastering (enabled by its ‘dynamic metadata’) to get the best out of an entire film or TV show. 

It might has 10-bit color rather than Dolby Vision’s 12-bit, but its dynamic metadata should make for a better balance between light and dark scenes. 

We first heard about HDR10+ back in April when Samsung announced it was partnering with Amazon Prime Video to support the new format, but the format took a big step forward in August with the announcement that 20th Century Fox and Panasonic were joining forces with Samsung to develop the format.

More recently, Netflix has suggested that it might be open to supporting the format in the future, although it currently has no firm plans to do so. 

This is important, since it marks the shift of HDR10+ away from being Samsung’s proprietary toy and towards being something that might one day become a standard on all TVs. 

Earning its place

But do we even need another standard of HDR? Well a side-by-side comparison of Dolby Vision and HDR10 suggests the more premium format can have a transformative impact when used correctly.

The early signs for HDR10+ are looking positive. Panasonic is bringing the technology to all of its ‘4K Pro’ televisions, which includes the newly announced 77-inch model of its Panasonic EZ1002, and Samsung has already enabled HDR10+ streaming from Amazon Prime Video. 

But the biggest sticking point at the moment is content. With Amazon on board at least one of the streaming services is covered, but Amazon’s just one of the many streaming services available at the moment, and there’s no word yet on whether the standard will be integrated into future Blu-ray discs. HDR10+’s backers want this to be the case, but it’s tough to know what stance the Blu-ray committee will take. 

Even if it does find some content, Dolby Vision still has the slight tech advantage with support for 12-bit color and up to 10,000 nits of brightness, but the lack of licensing fees with HDR10+ could end up being mightily tempting for manufacturers and content creators alike. 

Far from being another pointless standard then it looks like HDR10+ might have a place in the world of home cinema after all. Just don’t expect it to kill off Dolby Vision anytime soon. 

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