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Dolby Vision vs HDR 10, Everything You Should Know before Buy HDR TV

by on October 3, 2016

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 We might have heard a lot the term “HDR 10” and “Dolby Vision” when we are searching a HDR TV. But not everyone knows a lot about them. This will be better if we have known first about them before we decide to choose a HDR TV, so as not to be disappointed later on. You need to know, Dolby Vision and HDR 10 are HDR formats where each of them has their own standardization. A HDR TV compliant with HDR 10 or Dolby Vision means all of display specs delivered by them meet the standardization set for HDR 10 or Dolby Vision. But unfortunately, from the many 4K TVs that label their self with HDR, only a few TV, there is only a few that really meet the minimum standardization set for HDR 10 or Dolby Vision.  This means not all 4K TV with HDR label can display HDR quality fully.

Talking about HDR 10 and Dolby Vision, we certainly will talk about format war between them. HDR 10 is open source format developed by UHD alliance while Dolby Vision is a proprietary format developed by Dolby laboratories. So, which one wins between them? Let’s discuss one by them about them.

HDR (High Dynamic Range), What is that?

Before we discussed above Dolby Vision and HDR 10 format, this would be better if we discuss first about HDR. As we know, HDR (High Dynamic Range) is the technology that originally used by Digital Camera in photography for delivering more details picture quality in shadows or sun highlighted effects.  For delivering clearer picture in dark scenes, of course this required high contrast ratio with deeper black level and brighter peak white than SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) picture. But n the progress, HDR is not about deep black level and peak brightness only, but it also required wider color gamut and much more shades of color than SDR picture.


Since HDR becomes the main focus of 4K TVs industry in 2016, almost all of 4K TVs that released in 2016 are labeled with HDR. This course will cause a new problem about the meaning of HDR itself because not many TVs labeled with HDR can display HDR contents fully as it was intended. To minimize the duping of consumers about HDR, so there is a standardization set that should be met by HDR TV to tell which TVs that really perform HDR fully or not. But it should be noted, HDR is not about how great a 4K TVs can display picture in HDR quality but the source also must be mastered in HDR. So, it is required an HDR format to standardize between sources and displays. And at this time, there is two most popular formats that used in HDR TV industry called HDR 10 and Dolby Vision

Dolby Vision vs HDR 10

As mentioned, Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR format developed by Dolby Laboratories while HDR 10 is an open sources HDR format developed by UHD alliances. There are the number of important points distinguishing between them like black level, peak brightness, color gamut, depth of color and how the metadata is sent.  Let’s discuss one by one about them.

Black level and Peak Brightness

For displaying HDR in HDR10 format or Dolby Vision Format, a 4K TV must have an engine that supports them and also the display specs must meet the minimum criteria that set for each. For HDR 10, there are two options that must be met by HDR 10 Display or sources when mastering the contents in HDR 10. The first option is 1000 nits peak of brightness with 0.05 nits of black level. This means a 4K TVs must reach at least 1000 nits peak of brightness and 0.05 nits of black level to be able to displays fully contents mastered in HDR 10. This usually s applied on LED TVs. The second option is 540 nits of peak brightness with 0.0005 nits of black level and this usually is applied on OLED TVs.

Dolby Vision even set higher standardization of peak brightness and black level than HDR 10. For mastering contents in Dolby Vision Format, it is required 0 nits of black level up to 10.000 nits of peak brightness. But for this current time, the reality target is 4000 nits of peak brightness. To display fully Dolby Vision contents, of course a 4K TVs also must have display specs like that. But unfortunately, there is no TV that can deliver peak brightness required for displaying Dolby Vision Fully, even for LG OLED TV with zero nits black level where the peak brightness reached is only about 650 nits. This means Dolby Vision is the HDR format for the future TV though LG and Vizio started to equip their 2016 lineup with Dolby Vision ability.

Color Gamut and Depth of Color

For displaying HDR 10 contents fully, UHD alliance set 90% of DCI P3 color space that must be covered by a 4K TV while color gamut that required by Dolby Vision Contents is Rec BT.2020 color space. This means color gamut required for mastering Dolby Vision is wider than required by HDR 10. Additionally, in term of depth of color, UHD Alliance set 10 bit color for HDR 10 while Dolby Vision set 12 bit color. You need to know, a 4K TVs with 10 bit color means it can deliver about 1.07 billion shades of color while a 4K TVs with 12 bits color this means it can delvers more than 68 billion shades of color. Compared to most of 4K TVs currently that only support 8 bit color or delivers about 16 million shades of color. Nevertheless, at this time, there is no 4K TVS that can cover Rec.2020 color space and support 12 bit depth of color. The top model LG’s 2016 OLED TV that claimed support Dolby Vision only support 10 bit color and cover about more than 94% DCI P3 color space.


Depth of Color Illustration


Color Gamut Coverage


The other difference between HDR 10 and Dolby Vision is about how the metadata sent. Metadata is contains the extra data that tells a TV how to display HDR contents. HDR 10 uses static metadata this means a metadata is sent once at the beginning of the videos while Dolby Vision uses dynamic or continuous metadata that means a metadata is sent continuously frame by frame. Because the extra data is sent frame by frame, the color and brightness level is adjusted on per-scene. With other words, Dolby Vision can optimize bright scenes, dark scenes, or every scene individually while HDR 10 takes the overall characteristic of the videos.  So, this should makes HDR picture with Dolby Vision format looks more accurate than HDR 10 on the display.

Secification Dolby Vision HDR 10
Peak Brightness 10,000 nits with current target 4000 nits 4000 nits with current target 1000 nits with 0.05 nits of black level or 540 nits with 0.0005 nits of black level
Color Gamut Rec.2020 DCI P3
Depth Of Color 12 Bits 10 Bits
Shades of Color 1.07 billion 68 billion
Remapping Color and Brightness Data Sent Dynamic (meta data sent frame by frame) Static (meta data sent once at beginning)

Does this mean Dolby Vision is better than HDR 10?

Maybe on future where the display can meet all criteria set for Dolby Vision, it should be better than HDR 100. But for current time is still fifty-fifty. As we have discussed above, for this time, there is no TV that meet all minimum requirement set for Dolby Vision. This means, if there is picture data which are out of the range can reached by Dolby Vision TV, this course makes Dolby Vision picture displayed is not in line with expectations. In contrast to HDR 10, for this time, display specs reached by most of top model LED TVS or OLED TVs have met the standardization of HDR 10 set by UHD Alliance. This mean they can display HDR 10 contents fully without any issues.

Who Supports HDR 10 or Dolby Vision?

Both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision have been supported by the number of TV manufacturers, Video, External Devices, Streaming Services, or the Contents Creators. Almost all big names of display Manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Sony, Vizio, Sharp, Hisense and others have support HDR 10 format while Dolby Vision is supported by certain Display manufacturers like LG, Visio and TCL. This means for this time, HDR 10 is more popular than Dolby Vision where there are no big names like Samsung or Sony behind Dolby Vision. A 4K TV with HDR label can be confirmed it support HDR 10 but for Dolby Vision, there is its own label for Dolby Vision.

Talking about External Devices that support HDR, for this time there is only Samsung UBD-K8500 Blu Ray player that support HDR 10 while for Dolby Vision, there is nothing. Moving on Streaming services, the numbers of Video Streaming services has announced their support to HDR 10 or Dolby Vision. Behind HDR 10, there is Ultra (Sony), Netflix, and Amazon while behind Dolby Vision there are also Amazon, Netflix, and Vudu.  And for contents creators, the number of Hollywood Studios also has announced their support to Dolby Vision or HDR 10. Behind Dolby Vision, there are Sony, MGM, Warner Bros, and Universal Studios while behind HDR 10 is even more. There are Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros, and Lions Gate.



After we know a lot about HDR 10 and Dolby Vision also their differences, of course this will makes us more intelligent in choosing DHR TV so as not to be disappointed later on. No matter they it is HDR 10 or Dolby Vision, both of them aim to provide the best experience in watching TV. But as mentioned, although Dolby Vision has higher standardization than HDR 10, for this time, this doesn’t mean it is better caused the limitation of display specs of current TV event for the best TVs LG OLED Signature G6 that sold with a huge price.

As well as about HDR 10, not all of 4K TVs labeled HDR can display HDR contents fully. There is only 4K TVs with Ultra HD premium certification that can display HDR 10 contents fully. This means a 4K TVs with Ultra HD Certification compliant with all requirement set by UHD alliance whether it is about peak brightness, black level, color gamut of depth of color. Some top models of Samsung’s 2016 SUHD TV like KS9800, KS9500, KS9000, KS8500, KS8000, Sony X930D/X940D and Z9D series, and all models of LG’s 2016 OLED TV compliant with Ultra HD certification. While the 2016 TV models that support Dolby Vision are all models of LG’s 2016 OLED TV like G6, E6, C6, B6 and LG SUHD TV like UH8500, UH9500, UH7700, Vizio’s 2016 P series and M series. As mentioned, although all of them can play Dolby Vision contents but this doesn’t mean Dolby Vision that displayed will looks better than they are playing HDR 10 contents. As the note when buying a HDR TV, a 4K TV with Dolby Vision label can be confirmed it can play both HDR 10 and Dolby Vision Contents while a 4K TVs with HDR label only can play HDR 10 contents.

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