Is Dolby Vision better than HDR? Let’s find out which is better.
These two formats are the most popular ones when you want to watch high-quality video content. They both expand the colors and brightness on compatible displays to enhance your viewing experience.
Yes, Dolby Vision is better than HDR in terms of brightness, contrast, color, detail, and consistency. You do need compatible devices and content that support it, otherwise, you will notice little difference between Dolby Vision and other HDR formats.
Alright, let’s compare and contrast!
Is Dolby Vision Better than HDR? – We Have the Answers
Before we dive into the details, let’s get one thing clear: Dolby Vision and HDR are not mutually exclusive.
Understanding Dolby Vision and HDR
HDR is a term that encompasses several formats, including Dolby Vision. This technology enables a wider range of contrast and brightness than SDR content.
Images become lifelike as they capture a scene’s darkest and brightest elements providing that contrast.
Below are common HDR formats:
|HDR Format||Description||Metadata||Color Depth|
|HDR10||The most widely used and supported HDR format||Static||10-bit or 1.07 billion colors|
|HDR10+||Enhanced version of HDR, mainly backed by Samsung and Amazon||Dynamic||10-bit or 1.07 billion colors|
|HLG||Developed for broadcasting live TV content in HDR||None||10-bit or 1.07 billion colors|
|Dolby Vision||The most advanced and premium HDR||Dynamic||12-bit or 68 billion colors|
Is Dolby Vision better than HDR 10? Although Dolby Vision is a top-tier HDR, it is not so different from other HDR formats. It only outperforms HDR 10 when you have both compatible devices and content.
Differences Between Dolby Vision and HDR
Now that you have a basic idea of Dolby Vision and HDR, let’s compare them using the key aspects affecting picture quality.
Enhanced Brightness and Contrast
Not all HDR formats have the same peak brightness levels. These differences affect the overall visual quality of the content you’re watching.
HDR is meant to display brighter whites and deeper blacks, so having this range should provide that contrast.
Here is a table to illustrate that.
|HDR Format||Maximum Brightness (nits)|
As you see, Dolby Vision offers the highest peak brightness among HDR formats, creating stunning visuals. However, the impact depends on your display, as not all devices reach such levels.
Note: Dolby Vision’s dynamic metadata adjusts image settings for each scene to ensure consistent quality across all devices. In contrast, HDR10 uses static metadata with a risk of overexposure or color loss.
Wider Color Range
Not all HDR formats have the same color depth. This difference in color depth, combined with varying metadata, contributes to distinct visual experiences across the HDR formats.
Here is a table to show that.
|HDR Format||Maximum Color Depth (bits)|
As you see, Dolby Vision boasts the widest color range, but its full potential depends on your device’s capabilities. Many TVs and devices are limited to 10 bits or less, unable to showcase Dolby Vision’s color spectrum.
Note: The varying color depth and other technical details contribute significantly to the unique visual experiences offered by different HDR formats.
Color Gamut Coverage
Both these formats are capable of showing vivid colors, and the factor that affects this is the color gamut.
It refers to a range of colors your screen displays, but it’s influenced by the spectrum supported by Dolby Vision and other HDR formats.
Info: HDR uses Rec.2020, which covers about 75%, allowing for more colors, especially red and green.
Here is a table for a quick overview:
|HDR Format||Color Gamut Coverage (%)|
As you see, Dolby Vision has the highest color gamut coverage among all HDR formats. This means it reproduces more colors or shades than them.
Note: Not all devices fully support Rec.2020 due to its demanding color depth and brightness requirements.
One of the main challenges of watching in any HDR format is finding compatible content that uses it.
Not all videos are available in HDR, so content creators and publishers have to select which one to use.
Most of them will opt for Dolby Vision, and here are some of the top reasons why they do:
Here is a table showing HDR formats and their supported platforms:
|HDR Format||Supported Platforms|
|HDR10||YouTube, Google Play Movies, Vudu, Roku, Xbox, PlayStation, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs|
|HDR10+||Amazon Prime Video, Samsung TV Plus, Rakuten TV, Fire TV Stick 4K, some Ultra HD Blu-ray discs|
|HLG||BBC iPlayer, NHK World, DirecTV, Dish Network|
|Dolby Vision||Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Disney+, Warner Bros, Universal, Sony, Paramount, Disney, Marvel|
Pro Tip: Choose the compatibility and availability of the content you want to watch before selecting a device or platform.
Device and Hardware Compatibility
In order for you to watch Dolby Vision or any HDR format, you’re going to need to use compatible equipment.
This includes your TV, mobile device, source, and cable. Having all these ensures you get the best experience possible while watching content.
TV or Device
- Requirement: Dolby Vision chip or software
- Example: LG OLED TV, Sony Bravia TV, Apple TV 4K
- Requirement: Dolby Vision format support
- Example: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- Requirement: High bandwidth and data rate
- Example: HDMI 2.0 or higher, optical cable
If you do not have all these components in place, you will experience issues like no HDR signal or poor HDR quality.
Dolby Vision vs HDR: Real World Examples
Is 4K Dolby Vision better than 4K HDR? There are a lot of real-world examples of content that are available in both Dolby Vision and other HDR formats.
So you have an idea of how these are different, let’s look at them in detail:
The popular Sci-Fi series from Disney+ follows the adventures of a bounty hunter and his companion, Grogu.
- Dolby Vision: Stunning and realistic with preserved details and colors
- HDR10: Good but not as impressive as Dolby, with some loss of details and colors
Planet Earth II
The popular docuseries from BBC explore the natural wonders and wildlife of the planet.
- HLG: Amazing and natural with accurate brightness and color variation
- HDR10: Good but not as true to life as HLG, with some loss of realism and detail
The popular Warner Bros movie tells the origin story of the iconic Batman villain.
- Dolby Vision: Dark and gritty, preserving details and colors in dark and bright elements
- HDR10: Good but not as impressive as Dolby, with some loss of details and colors
Note: The quality of the content you’re watching will ultimately depend on your device’s display and personal preferences.
Pro Tip: Explore all HDR formats to determine which suits your viewing preferences best.
User Experience and Preferences
As you see from the above examples, Dolby Vision provides superior picture quality in terms of brightness, contrast, color, detail, depth, and consistency. However, it’s not always the best choice for everyone.
Here are other factors that influence your HDR content experience:
- Viewing environment: Room lighting affects how you perceive HDR content.
- Viewing distance: Your proximity to the screen impacts image detail and clarity.
- Personal preference: Everyone has their own taste for brightness, color, and detail.
Pro Tip: Adjust your settings and viewing distance for a better HDR experience.
Choosing the Right Technology
Choose the right technology that suits your needs and preferences to enjoy HDR content at its best quality and performance.
If you want to make the right decision about whether you want HDR10 vs Dolby Vision, here’s what you need to consider:
- Ensure compatibility by checking your device’s supported HDR formats.
- Verify content availability by reviewing descriptions and checking platform support.
- Assess content quality through user reviews or ratings.
- Optimize performance by configuring settings for output and resolution.
Conclusion: Which One is Better
Is Dolby Vision better than HDR? Yes, Dolby Vision is superior to other HDR formats if you have the right equipment and content. However, it will still depend on your preference if you want to continue using it or go with a different format.
Although Dolby Vision is advanced, other HDR formats deliver excellent picture quality and performance.
Finn Wheatley holds a Master’s Degree in Computer Science from UCL, London. He helped small data science consultancy firms, helping large corporations to grow their data capabilities, deploy advanced machine learning-based analytics and troubleshoot tech-related issues.