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HDR 10 vs Dolby Vision : What is that?

by on September 11, 2016


In the era of “High Dynamic Range” at this time, we will find the term about HDR and Dolby Vision, two technologies that cannot be separated from HDR “world”. It is a technology war or more specific is format war like LCD against Plasma, DVD against Blu-Ray or VHS against Betamax in past year. Both of them are two most popular HDR technologies because actually, there are more than two HDR technologies. Dolby Vision is initiated by Dolby Laboratories while HDR 10 is open source supported by most manufactures that produce HDR TV.  Because HDR 10 technology is supported by most of HDR-Capable TV, of course it is more popular than Dolby Vision although in term of Specs, Dolby Vision offers higher standardization.  But before we compare these two technologies, it would be better if we discuss one by one about them.

Dolby Vision


Dolby Vision Technology is officially launched in CES 2014 by Dolby Laboratories. This technology is built based on SMPTE ST2084, the basic protocol for transmitting HDR info to a TV by adopting new electro-optical transfer function called Perceptual Quantizer (PQ), a method used for converting signals into visible light.  Dolby Vision is the technology that included Color, Resolution and Dynamic Range in one package format.

Dolby Vision set high standardization for a display, 10,000 nits of peak brightness, 12 bit color depth, Rec. 2020 color gamut and 4K resolution. To be able to display images in Double Vision quality, a TV must meet all of the standardizations above.  But because there is no display that can deliver 10,000 nits of peak brightness (at least for this time), for this time the target of peak brightness of Dolby Vision is lowered to more realistic value that is 4000 nits (although this figure is still high enough for a TV at this time).

For watching contents in Dolby Vision quality, this doesn’t mean every content can be displayed with Dolby Vision quality in Dolby Vision Display.  There are three aspects which must be met to be able enjoy Dolby Vision quality. First, the source of contents must be mastered in Dolby Vision, the second, sender or player also must have Dolby Vision Capability and the last, the display also must be support Dolby Vision. There is no converter or up-scaling like on 4K resolution where the contents with lower resolution can be up-scaled into 4K resolution.

For this time, several display manufactures like LG and Vizio have equipped their UHD lineup with Dolby Vision Compatibility and in the near term, this will be followed by other manufacturers. On the sender or player side, now some most contents provider like Netflix, VUDU, Amazon have started provide Dolby Vision Contents through their apps built-into Dolby Vision-enabled smart TVs. But unfortunately, for a while, DV contents can be watched via streaming only because there are no Blu-ray player that already support Dolby Vision. While on the contents side, there are many contents creators like Warner Brother, MGM, Sony Pictures have partnered to provide contents in Dolby Vision format.

HDR 10


If Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR format by Dolby Laboratories, HDR 10 is open source HDR Format that supported by the number big name of display manufactures like Samsung, LG, and Sony. This may be just a matter of business because to use Dolby Vision Format, they must pay fee to Dolby. Additionally, to get Dolby certification, they probably also have to lost some controls over their own product.  This certainly is not wanted by them. Therefore, they cooperate with each other to develop their own approaches to HDR. With the official profile labeled Consumer Technology Association, they officially launched their own HDR format called HDR 10 in August 2015.

HDR 10 is also built based on SMPTE 2084. Unlike Dolby Vision that set high level standardization, HDR 10 more compromise for display manufactures. 4000 nits with realistic target 1000 nits peak brightness is certainly more easily achieved by a display than 10,000 nits. Additionally, for color gamut, HDR 10 set a TV must cover more than 90% DCI P3 color space. While about depth of color, the standardization of HDR 10 is 10 bit depth of color.

HDR 10 vs Dolby Vision

As I have discussed above, Dolby Vision set higher standardization than HDR 10. For peak brightness, Dolby Vision target 10,000 nits with current  4000 nits target while HDR 10 target 4000 nits with current 1000 nits target. About color gamut, a TV support Dolby Vision must cover Rec.2020 color gamut while HDR 10 TV must cover at least 90% DCI P3 color space. So does about depth of color, Dolby Vision set 12 bit depth of color that means it can delivers more than 68 billion shades of color while HDR 10 sets 10 bit color that means it can delivers 1 billion shades of color. Compare to most TVs that only support 8 bit color or can deliver about 16 million shades of color.

  HDR 10 Dolby Vision
Peak Brightness 4000 nits with current 1000 nits targe 10000 nits with current 4000 nits target
Color Gamut DCI P3 Color Space Rec.2020 color space
Depth of Color 10 bits 12 Bit
Shades of color 1.07 billion shades of color 68 billion shades of color
Remapping Color and Brightness Static (Once at the beginning of the video) Dynamic (Continuous based on frame by frame)


DCI P3 vs REC 2020 Color Gamut


10 bit vs 12 Bit Depth of Color

The other difference between HDR 10 and Dolby Vision is about how the metadata sent. Metadata is an extra data that will tell a TV how HDR content displayed. To tell how a TV displayed HDR contents, HDR 10 send static metadata once at the beginning of the video. While on Dolby Vision, it used continuous metadata sent based on frame by frame. This means on Dolby Vision Format, Color and brightness level can be adjusted on per scene. This course makes Dolby Vision does more precise in remapping brightness and color in every scene. But in the real world, this also depends on the limitations or capabilities of the TV.

Those who Support HDR 10 or Dolby Vision

Supporter HDR10 Dolby Vision
TV Brands Samsung, Sony, LG, Vizio, Sharp, Hisense Vizio, LG, TCL
External Devices Samsung UBD-K8500 None Yet
Disc Based Media 4K Blu Ray None Yet
Streaming Service Ultra, Netflix, Amazon Vudu, Netflix, Amazon
Hollywood Studios Lionsgate, Warner Bros, Sony, Paramount, Fox Universal, Sony, Warner Bros, MGM


Although Dolby Vision offers higher level standardization, but HDR 10 even is more popular (at least for this time). There is oddity in here. Samsung and Sony as the market leader of TVs manufactures prefer to choose HDR 10 than Dolby Vision. None of their products support Dolby Vision, even for Samsung UBD K8500, the first 4K Blu Ray Player that support HDR. But considering they are the leading supporters of HDR 10 format, of course this is understandable.

With the more realistic specs, HDR 10 has become the format of choice of most TV manufactures for their HDR TV. So, if a TV doesn’t mention Dolby Vision on itself, this mean it use HDR 10 format. Additionally, HDR 10 is also becomes standard format of UHD Blu Ray Player. This mean, a Blu-Ray Disc player must first support HDR 10 format before it also support Dolby Vision. But unfortunately, until now, there is none yet Blu- Ray Disc Player that supports Dolby Vision.


Format war always makes the consumers confuse. But usually, they do not care about it. The most important, they get the best TV available according to their budget. Fortunately, the war between HDR 10 and Dolby Vision is unlike a war between manufacturers like Sony vs Samsung, or Samsung vs LG, so this will not make the consumer too dizzy before determining selection. A simply, a TV supports Dolby Vision certainly also support also support HDR 10. But otherwise, not all HDR 10 TV support Dolby Vision. With the other words, if a HDR TV specifically mentions Dolby Vision, of course it also supports HDR 10. But if there is no Dolby Vision Frills, can be confirmed it only support HDR 10.

But of course, this is not the end of the war. There are still things will certainly happen in the future because the technology continues to grow rapidly. So it is too early to determine which better between these HDR formats. But essentially, whatever HDR format used by a HDR TV, it is the time to replace your old TV with HDR TV.

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