Often seen side-by-side with 4K, HDR — or high dynamic range — has been one of the most sought-after quality standards in recent years. As such, several different HDR standards have emerged since it first became a consumer-oriented format in 2014. These include HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. But, when comparing HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision, which HDR format deserves to come out on top? It’s a close call, and one that requires a good bit of explanation.
HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: Side-by-Side Comparison
|First Introduced||April 2017||January 2014|
|Developer||Samsung and Amazon Video||Dolby Laboratories|
|Peak Brightness||10,000 nits||10,000 nits|
|Max Color Depth||10-bit||12-bit|
HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: What’s the Difference?
Both are two top-of-the-line HDR formats. They’re also direct competitors. So what about these two standards is similar, and what is different? Let’s take a look at three key distinctions: branding, usage, and the future of the formats.
Firstly, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are two separate and distinct brands. HDR10+ hails from Samsung and Amazon. Additionally, it has united brands such as Panasonic, 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., and others under the HDR10+ alliance. With this, it seems HDR10+ is less a product of one specific brand and more a coalition of several notable ones.
Conversely, Dolby Vision is a product of Dolby Laboratories. As a brand, Dolby has been a titan of the home theater and the cinema alike for decades now. Dolby Laboratories has long been a trusted name in cinematic audio. Now, with Dolby Vision, the brand has officially entered the conversation surrounding cinematic visuals. This obviously gives them a trustworthy air to their name; one that is arguably more recognizable than HDR10+.
HDR10+ and Dolby Vision have distinct rules for the usage of their proprietary HDR format. Being both open standard and royalty-free, HDR10+ can be used by content creators without requiring them to pay royalties. The same goes for licensing fees. All that the HDR10+ Alliance asks is that you pay an administration fee annually.
Dolby Vision, on the other hand, is a format much more particular about its use. Contrary to HDR10+, Dolby Vision is not a royalty-free or open standard. In fact, it’s exclusive to Dolby Laboratories. For a content creator to be Dolby Vision certified, they must pay $2,500 annually for licensing and certification.
Even though HDR has only been around in the consumer sphere since 2014, it’s still important to consider how these two competing formats will do in the future. Known as future-proofing, it’s essential for today’s top technology to consider how their products will play out in the years to come. This consideration makes it so that consumers won’t have to upgrade every couple of years. Interestingly, to be truly future-proof, developers will make their product’s maximum specs exceed the current standards.
This is why both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision have unbelievably high maximum brightness levels and peak resolutions. While current technology typically tops out at a brightness of 1,000 nits and a resolution of 4K, both formats can support up to 10,000 nits and 8K resolution. Also, HDR10+ has a color depth of 10 bits. Comparatively, Dolby Vision has a color depth of 12 bits. This gives Dolby Vision a huge advantage.
History of HDR10+
Dolby Vision beat HDR10+ to the punch by a few years. In response to Dolby Vision’s success as the first consumer-minded HDR format, Samsung and Amazon created HDR10+. Also referred to as HDR10 Plus, the competitive HDR format was first introduced on April 20th, 2017. It was meant to serve as an improvement over the standard HDR10 specs. Most notably, HDR10+ incorporates dynamic metadata; the same thing that initially made Dolby Vision so notable. It helps adjust brightness, color depth, and resolution.
More specifically, HDR10+ allows for brightness that’s as high as 10,000 nits, color depth of up to 10 bits, and a resolution as high as 8K. Contrary to Dolby Vision, HDR10+ is royalty-free. This means the standard is open and available for content creators to use as they please. All one must do is pay an annual administration fee for HDR10+ certification and logo use. There’s no royalty per unit, as seen with competing HDR formats.
Today, Samsung, Panasonic, and 20th Century Fox are united under the HDR10+ Alliance. This particular HDR format can be seen on Amazon Prime Video, Warner Bros. productions, Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-ray players, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, and more.
The Importance of Dolby Vision
While HDR10+ is undoubtedly a solid competitor, Dolby Vision was still first. When comparing HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision, this kind of thing matters. First introduced in January 2014, Dolby Vision popularized and commoditized HDR for consumers before anyone else entered the market. While its 10,000-nit peak brightness and 8K peak resolution match that of HDR10+, Dolby Vision’s color depth far exceeds at 12-bits.
Even though the difference between 10 and 12 bits might not seem like much, the valley between the two is astronomical. The former translates to 1 billion colors. Conversely, the latter translates to a whopping 68 billion. Even though HDR10+ had a few years to try and match Dolby Vision’s capabilities, they just couldn’t find a way to supplant this immense 12-bit color palette. This is what makes Dolby Vision so important.
Also worth noting is the fact that Dolby Vision and HDR10+ each use their own distinct dynamic metadata. Dolby Vision’s proprietary metadata is able to define precisely how much each individual frame of an HDR video needs to be adjusted to match the display’s peak capabilities. Importantly, from black levels to brightness levels to maximum color gamut, Dolby Vision’s dynamic metadata is exclusive to them. It’s also defined by the SMPTE ST 2094-10 standard, while HDR10+ is defined by the SMPTE ST 2094-40 one.
HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: Pros and Cons
|Pros of HDR10+||Cons of HDR10+|
|Royalty-free and open source||Supports fewer color shades than Dolby Vision|
|Widely accepted under the HDR10+ Alliance||Not as future-proof as Dolby Vision|
|Identical brightness and resolution to Dolby Vision||Lacks the brand recognition of Dolby Vision|
|Newer than Dolby Vision||A little late to the HDR game|
|Pros of Dolby Vision||Cons of Dolby Vision|
|First HDR format optimized for the consumer market||Requires a $2,500 annual license in order to qualify|
|Supports up to 68 billion color shades||Use is more restrictive than HDR10+|
|Considered to be future proof||HDR colors can sometimes look a little off when done poorly|
|Pairs well with other Dolby tech like Dolby Atmos||Not all technology supports HDR|
HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: 5 Must-Know Facts
- HDR10+ supports up to a billion different color shades. Dolby Vision, on the other hand, supports up to 68 billion color shades.
- Dolby Vision is a proprietary HDR format exclusive to Dolby Laboratories. Alternatively, HDR10+ is open-source and royalty-free.
- HDR first hit the consumer market with the release of Dolby Vision in 2014.
- Other competing HDR formats include HLG, PQ10, and SL-HDR1, 2, and 3.
- While both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision rely on dynamic metadata, they use different dynamic metadata configurations.
HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: Which Is Best?
So, when it comes down to it, who deserves the honor of being the best? HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision? Considering what we’ve discussed, the winner seems clear. It’s unquestionably Dolby Vision. First of all Dolby Vision has a greater maximum color depth. Its 12 bits obviously triumph over HDR10+’s 10 bits. Secondly, Dolby Vision boasts a more notable brand name. Thirdly, Dolby Vision is more future-proof than HDR10+.
Finally, Dolby Vision was the first to the punch. This gives them an air of superiority and a position of leadership among other HDR formats. Even if you took away the branding, the future-proofing, and all other competitive advantages, Dolby Vision would still deserve the honor based on its color depth alone. 68 billion is undeniably better than 1 billion. They’re unlike any other format in the game.