Personal Tech | August 23, 2019 2:07 pm

What Is HDR, And Do You Need a TV That Supports It?

It could improve your viewing experience exponentially

HDR could make your TV brighter and more vivid
Patrick Strandberg/Flickr CC

We’re still wrapping our heads around OLED vs LCD (not to mention 8K), but there’s yet another term you should be aware of when considering a TV purchase.

And that’s High Dynamic Range, or HDR.

A very quick explainer to yet another acronym:

What does HDR do well? Contrast! It’ll make your brights brighter and your darks darker, while expanding the range of colors available. Also, everything is considerably more vibrant and rich.

How does it do that? As the New York Times points out, each light on an HDR screen can shine up to 1024 shades of read, green or blue … or four times what your regular HD TV is offering.

How will I know my set is an HDR set? The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has an industry definition of what constitutes an HDR set.  But  there are two standards of HDR — the HDR10 is the cheaper one that’s most widely available (and open source); Dolby Vision is more expensive but offers a higher standard of contrast and colors. And your set might offer both.

If you have a compatible set, the metadata sent along with your signal will tell your TV exactly how to display colors and what brightness to use, instead of your device deciding for you. Basically, you’ll get images exactly how the director wanted them, and not “dumbed down” for your inferior home screen.

What’s the catch? Much like 8K, you’re only going to get a real advantage with HDR, you’ll need HDR content (and if you have a Dolby Vision set, those shows will have to support Dolby Vision). Netflix, Amazon and Vudu all offer streaming content that fits this criteria … if you opt for the plans that offer 4K content. Network TV? Not so much.

The consensus among tech experts suggests that all 4K sets and HDR will be the norm sooner than later, so if you’re buying a TV now, you’ll want to look for the HDR standard.

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