Nowadays we use displays for everything from controlling our cars to monitoring our heart rate or something as simple as making a phone call. However, most modern displays are primarily content consumption devices now. Alongside Smart TVs, we consume videos on our smartphones, computers, tablets, smart displays, EV (control) displays, and even a few smart refrigerators, for some reason.
However, with the rise of modern video, we got High Dynamic Range Video aka HDR, which has been doing wonders for personal entertainment. There are a few formats, but in general, we now have streaming libraries containing HDR10, Dolby Vision HDR, and HDR10+ content. Although regular HDR10 is the base standard, the real competition is between Dolby Vision and Samsung's home-fabricated HDR10+.
If you have an HDR-supported device like a TV, Smartphone, Computer, or even a high-end Laser Projector, chances are they either support Dolby Vision or HDR10+. However, some devices only support the regular HDR10 which isn't as advanced, but still better than not having HDR at all. That also means these variations of High Dynamic Range video are significantly different.
What Is HDR Video?
Defining HDR Video can be a little tricky and confusing, so I'm gonna try and do this in the simplest way possible. HDR or High Dynamic Range video is an advancement over SDR or Standard Dynamic Range video that improves colors, brightness (handling), details, and overall picture quality.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) video uses 10-bit color instead of 8-bit color in SDR, DCI-P3 & Rec. 2020 color spaces instead of the standard sRGB (Rec. 709), has higher peak luminance, and it also has higher Dynamic Range where it handles the extremely bright and extremely dark areas of the picture, significantly better than SDR.
How HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HDR10+ are Different from each other
Regarding different HDR standards, there is the base HDR10 on one side and the more advanced Dolby Vision and HDR10+. You may have also heard of HLG, but it's not a standard for HDR and is a type of HDR format instead. So, when you see HLG content, it will be HDR10 or one of the other more advanced standards I've mentioned. HLG is also capable of sending an HDR signal over broadcast television.
The HDR video standards have similarities, but they deal with HDR data differently. Regular HDR10 uses something called Static Metadata while both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ use something called Dynamic Metadata.
HDR10 content carries Static Metadata. If the device you're playing the video on supports HDR, it'll read that metadata and apply the necessary processing algorithms and software magic to output an HDR visual. However, because the metadata is static, the High Dynamic Range adjustments are the same for the entire visual. That means things like brightness increase and color adjustments are consistent over entire scenes.
Compared to SDR, HDR10 with its Static Metadata makes a huge difference and transforms the viewing experience to deliver amazing visuals. If you have an HDR-supported display, you'll surely notice that extra pop in contrast and the increased brightness.
Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are much more advanced than HDR10 because they use Dynamic Metadata. This brings frame-by-frame HDR processing which improves the overall viewing experience by miles. That means, instead of getting the same HDR adjustments for entire scenes, you now get versatile HDR processing in every single frame of those scenes.
Dynamic Metadata requires better hardware and the manufacturer still needs to add support for either HDR10+ or Dolby Vision to its capable devices.
Dolby Vision is better than HDR10+ - Here's Why!
Samsung's HDR10+ certification is currently free to add, so that's the most commonly supported format using Dynamic Metadata on modern devices. Dolby Vision charges a licensing fee, so it's not as widespread right now. However, on any Samsung device, Dolby Vision is not an option as they default to HDR10+.
This changes for content though. While Dolby Vision is the most common format for Dynamic HDR content, HDR10+ content is fairly limited. That means if your TV or smartphone only supports HDR10+, you'll have to watch most Dynamic HDR content in regular HDR10 which uses static metadata.
Availability of Dynamic HDR content
You get to choose from a wide variety of HDR content on streaming platforms and the majority of them are now using Dynamic Metadata.
Streaming services like Netflix, Disney+, Max (formerly HBO Max), and Apple TV+ mostly default to Dolby Vision for HDR. Amazon Prime Video has a mix of Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10 content and while Netflix has some HDR10+ content, its library is relatively limited. For renting movies, Google Play has a lot of HDR10+ titles on its platform while Apple TV mostly provides Dolby Vision. Both platforms also have a fair share of regular HDR10 movies.
YouTube, on the other hand, is mostly filled with HDR10 (Static Metadata, Regular & HLG) content. There's apparently support for HDR10+ as well, but the content library is again, quite non-existent. So, for those who don't watch other streaming services besides YouTube, Dynamic HDR support isn't going to be a big deal.
I tested both formats
During my testing on multiple devices that support both formats, Dolby Vision content delivered more consistent HDR performance compared to HDR10+. Even when it comes to color science, Dolby just did HDR better than Samsung and I didn't find a single scenario where that wasn't the case.
Dolby Vision takes the lead
By producing better HDR visuals and being available in large quantities of Dynamic HDR content on streaming platforms, Dolby Vision has taken a significant lead over HDR10+. Samsung simply can't compete at this point, and it also needs to convince production houses to make more HDR10+ content, just to catch up.
While the future possibilities are there, right now, I wouldn't want to spend a fortune on a premium large-screen TV or a flagship smartphone and be stuck with mostly Static HDR content. If I do, I'm getting a lot less value out of my money and Samsung needs to understand that.
Right now, HDR10+ simply can't compete with Dolby Vision, and that makes it an easy skip for consumers. If Samsung wants to change that, at the very least, they can either start including Dolby Vision support in their products or somehow make sure that major streaming services have HDR10+ versions available alongside Dolby Vision for HDR content. Right now, Dolby's Dynamic HDR format is the clear winner.