HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: How Do They Compare?

hdr10+ vs dolby vision

HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: How Do They Compare?

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.

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

HDR10+Dolby Vision
First IntroducedApril 2017January 2014
DeveloperSamsung and Amazon VideoDolby Laboratories
Peak Brightness10,000 nits10,000 nits
Max Color Depth10-bit12-bit
Max Resolution8K8K

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.

hdr10+ vs dolby vision
HDR10+ is a high-dynamic range video technology that adds dynamic metadata to HDR10 source files.

#1: Branding

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+.

#2: Usage

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.

#3: Future

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

hdr10+ vs dolby vision
Dolby Vision is a set of technologies developed by Dolby Laboratories for high dynamic range video.

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 sourceSupports fewer color shades than Dolby Vision
Widely accepted under the HDR10+ AllianceNot as future-proof as Dolby Vision
Identical brightness and resolution to Dolby VisionLacks the brand recognition of Dolby Vision
Newer than Dolby VisionA little late to the HDR game
Pros of Dolby VisionCons of Dolby Vision
First HDR format optimized for the consumer marketRequires a $2,500 annual license in order to qualify
Supports up to 68 billion color shadesUse is more restrictive than HDR10+
Considered to be future proofHDR colors can sometimes look a little off when done poorly
Pairs well with other Dolby tech like Dolby AtmosNot all technology supports HDR

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.

Up Next…

Interested in similar articles? Click on the links below:

  • SDR vs. HDR: What’s the Difference, and Which is Better? One form of technology is almost a century old while the other was released four decades ago. One is also capable of providing an improved viewing experience compared to the other. Find out which one it is and what sets it apart from the other, here.
  • HDR vs. Non-HDR: Does It Make a Difference? Which is the brighter option? Which of them comes with a greater color range and depth? What else sets them apart? The answers are all provided in this article. 
  • IPS vs. LED Monitors: Which is Best for You? One offers wider viewing angles and enhanced screen consistency, while the other uses less energy, responds faster and offers better image quality. Find out which is which and what other differences set them apart.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between HDR10 and HDR10+?

HDR10 and HDR10+ are both high-quality HDR formats, but HDR10+ incorporates dynamic metadata for even better video quality.

What's the difference between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision?

Dolby Atmos pertains to audio, while Dolby Vision pertains to video. Both hail from Dolby Laboratories.

Are Dolby Vision and HDR10+ the same thing?

Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are both HDR formats with a peak brightness of 10,000 nits and a peak resolution of 8K, but Dolby Vision and HDR10+ have different peak color shades and different dynamic metadata specifications.

Is HDR10+ free to use?

While HDR10+ is royalty-free and open source, there is still a fee content creators must pay for logo use and certification.

How much does it cost to use Dolby Vision?

Dolby Vision costs $2,500 or more in annual licensing fees.

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