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HDR TV, Everything you should know before buy HDR 4K TV

by on August 19, 2016

After 4K TV where this technology slowly replaces full HD 1080pp TV, now the latest buzzword in the Television industry is about HDR (High Dynamic Range).  This technology actually is originally used in Digital Camera industry for exploiting more hidden area of the images. For TV, actually in last couple years, some manufactures have equipped their lineup with HDR technology, but for a while only for their top model. But in 2016, this is arguable the year of HDR campaign where each of brands already equips almost of their 4K lineup with HDR technology. But of course, HDR performance of each is not same according to each of their class.


However, to prevent abuse of the term “HDR”, the number TV manufactures, Film and TV Studios, and Technology Firms make a consortium called UHD Alliance to determine the standardization specification of HDR. And a 4K TV that meet these standardization defined by UHD Alliance is entitled to “Ultra HD Premium” Label. With “UHD Premium” Label, the buyer will know a 4K that will be purchased is really compatible with HDR or simply just a frill to trick the consumers. In other word, a 4k TV labeled Ultra HD premium of course its HDR performance is undoubtedly or at least has met the minimum standardization of UHD Alliance.

What do the Terms Have Big Impact on HDR Quality?

For producing good HDR quality, of course this requires more performance than required by SDR picture. There are two aspects that have a big impact on great or not the quality of HDR. First is about contrast that has to do with black level and peak bright while the second is about color gamut. Lets discuss one by one these aspects.

HDR Standardization


Contrast is one of the important aspects that determine how great a 4K TV deliver HDR picture. It refers to the ratio between peak of brightness and depth of black level. Peak brightness refers to how bright a TV can achieve while black level mean how dark when a TV displaying dark scenes. Both of them are measured in nits.  Contrast ratio means the ratio between peak white and black level. The brighter peak brightness or the deeper black level, the contrast of a TV is stronger. As example, peak brightness of a TV is 500 nits while its black level is 0.5 nits. This means this TV has contrast ratio about 1000. For producing good HDR picture quality, this is a required s specific standardization of peak brightness and Black level.

Black Level and Peak Brightness

To get “UHD Premium” label, there are two combinations among peak brightness and black level that should be achieved by a TV. First, peak brightness is more than 1000 nits while black level is less than 0.05 nits and the second, peak brightness is more than 540 nits while black level is less than 0.0005 nits. The first option is usually for LED TV while the second option is for OLED TV because there is just OLED TV that can deliver black level less than 0.005 nits.


10 Bit Color vs 8 Bit Color

10 Bit Color vs 8 Bit Color

The other important aspect that has big impact on the quality of HDR picture is color gamut.  Like on contrast, there is also a specific standardization of spectrum and shades of color that must be met by a 4K TV to get “UHD Premium” label. The first requirement is about palette of color where a 4K TV must be able to cover more than 90% DCI of color space. And for this time, this standardization only can be achieved by OLED TV and LED TV with quantum dot technology. The second is about Color bit depth. To get “UHD premium” Label, a 4K TV must support 10 bit color. As comparison, TV with 8 bit color can delivers about 16 million shades of color while a 10 bit TV can deliver more than 1 billion shades of color.

Color Gamut

What are the requirements to be able to enjoy picture in HDR Quality?

For enjoying video contents in HDR quality, not enough just a TV is compatible with HDR. The TV also must support at least HDMI 2.0a version. Additionally, the sources also must be mastered in HDR. In other words, both the TV and the sources also support HDR.

Ultra HD Blu Ray Player

But you don’t need to worry about that because new model of Blu-Ray player can do that. Now, a UHD Blu-Ray disc with its improved storage capacity can contains metadata that will tell a HDR TV how to interpret contrast and color levels. But unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to standard Blu Ray Disc. Without metadata that will tell a 4K TV, the brightness and color will be displayed different to what the creator intended. In addition from new model of Blu Ray player, there is also other option for you via online streaming. With the rapid progress in online streaming technology, the number big VoD services like Netflix and Amazon have started to distribute contents in HDR quality. but of course to stream HDR contents from VoD Service, high speed internet is required. According to Netflix, for streaming HDR Contents from Netflix, in addition to the bandwidth that needed to stream standard contents, it just need additional bandwidth around 2.5 Mbps. This is much more efficient compared to addition bandwidth that needed to stream 4K contents over HD that is about 12 Mbps.

Final Thoughts

By knowing standard specification that set by UHD Alliance about HDR, this will help you to minimize in buying fake HDR TV. Almost of 4K TV in 2016 has been labeled with HDR, but not all of them meet the standardization set by UHD Alliance, especially for middle to lower models.  You still need to do some research about the spec that offered. It is just to ensure you will get HDR experience in real sense.  Samsung SUHD and LG SUHD TV or OLED TV are including TVs which meet the standardization of HDR set by UHD Alliance. As well as about top models of Sony 4K TV or Vizio P series, they also meet the standardization of good HDR quality.

Unlike native 4K contents that still scarce in the market because some producers must be struggled to do it, re-mastered video contents in HDR seem easier for producers. This allows creators prefer to produce new contents or re-master in HDR than 4K. One of the reasons, most of 4K TVs that available in the market has been equipped with great UHD Up-scaling engine while to enjoy movies in HDR, the sources must also be mastered in HDR.

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