Beyond 4K, the big TV trend to come out over the past few years is High Dynamic Range, or HDR. We have already covered exactly what is needed in a separate article, but just to confuse things, the pioneers of Dolby sound have their own version of the Dolby vision system.
Television is never short of technical terms and abbreviations and can be a real nightmare with them. So we're here to explain what a vision is, how HDR10 is different, what manufacturers support it, and what kind of content is out there.
What is Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision is a version of HDR that is designed to preverse much more information that may come from the original creation of content - in a Hollywood studio, for example - to the arrival of that content on your TV. This information is called metadata and it carries the brightness information for each frame of a movie or TV show, so the TV (phone or tablet) knows exactly how to display the picture through the entire movie.
Because this information is in every frame, it's called dynamic metadata, while standard HDR10 only has one data point or static metadata. So, in short, dolbo vision is a standard HDR that uses dynamic metadata. The goal is to give you better visuals and improve image quality.
The main difference between Dolby vision and HDR10 is the color depth and brightness of the content, and the hardware is capable of achieving. Dolby vision content is mastered to 12-bit color depth, compared to HDR10's 10-bit (where HDR10 gets its name).
You might be surprised that a 12-bit difference is more than 10-bits. Well, 12-bit color gives you access to over 68 billion colors, compared to 1 billion with 10-bit. This means that the colors you see from Dolby Vision films and on compatible TVs should be much more accurate and as the director intended.
Dolby Vision content can also be mastered beyond 10000 nits of peak brightness, but at the moment no display can support this, so content is actually mastered at around 4000 nits. However, it's ready when the displays support it.
What is Dolby on IQ vision?
Dolby on IQ Vision is an evolution of Dolby vision standard that allows for changes in illumination. It uses a sensor on the TV to detect ambient light levels and can then adjust the Dolby vision content so everything stays accurate.
Unlike the professional workshop classification that dolbo visionaries are born in, your average home will have varying levels of lighting throughout the day - it could be bright sunlight, artificial lighting in the evening, or perhaps you turn everything off for Movie Night. Dolby on IQ Vision can detect these changes and adjust the content accordingly so that things aren't too dark or light because the light level in the room has changed.
Dolby on IQ Vision was introduced in 2020 and will be available on Panasonic and LG TVs and it will not be available on mobile devices.
What manufacturers does Dolby Vision support?
In order to view Dolby Vision content, you must have the correct equipment. The benefit of Dolby Vision TVs is that they can support HDR10, but HDR10 TVs may not have Dolby Vision, so if you want the best of both worlds, Dolby Vision is the way to go.
Initially, Dolby vision equipment had dedicated chips inside which read metadata and reproduced images. However, as TV processors have become more advanced, it is now possible to enable Dolby Vision through a software update. Most recently we have smartphone support to arrive, which is completely software based.
The following manufacturers all support Dolby Vision on multiple TVs (not an exhaustive list):
- Philips company
- On TCL
You will notice that Samsung is not on the list. That's because Samsung is a partner in the competing HDR10+ format. It's a system that uses dynamic metadata, but it's still 10-bits instead of 12-bits. Many modern TVs (Panasonic, Philips, Sony) support both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ technology, you simply won't find a Samsung TV that supports Dolby Vision technology.
The Apple TV 4K, Google's Ultra Chromecast and the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K all support Dolby Vision too, meaning you can stream your Vision content to a compatible TV using these devices.
You can also buy Dolbo Vision-compatible Ultra HD and Blu-ray players from Sony and Panasonic among others.
What about Dolby vision on mobile devices?
Let's not ignore mobile HDR in this equation. Since the launch of the LG G6, Dolby View has received its first mobile device, and since then many others have jumped on board. Since the launch of the G6, many other mobile devices have been released that support Dolby Vision.
- Mobile RVB: Dolby Vision, HDR10 and everything you need to know about the future of mobile entertainment
What Dolby Vision content can I watch?
With many people getting their content from streaming services, where most people will experience Dolby vision content - yes, it relies on some Ultra HD and Blu-ray discs, but it's really the streaming services that bring vision to goods. For example (again, not exhaustive).
- Apple TV+ and Apple Movies
It's been produced by several successful shows in Dolby vision - such as Amazon's Jack Ryan, remade on Netflix by Carbon, many films from Apple or Mandolorian on Disney+.