Television sets have changed over the years and not just in what you can see by looking at them. The first big change was physical: replacing the cathode tube with a LCD flat panel that not only made the TV thinner and lighter, but also enabled it to convey a higher resolution for a more detailed picture. Since the advent of the , improvements in how the TV works have featured what couldn’t be seen until turned on — new and more exciting technologies in the electronics that powered the TV’s display being visible ever time it was turned on. The most recent is HDR, a.k.a. High Dynamic Range. These three simple words mean a lot when it comes time to watch.
What is HDR
To understand what HDR is, consider how it’s used in photography. When HDR is active, a picture is taken but in reality 3 pictures are actually shot: one underexposed, one overexposed and one that is “between” the two (or the “normal” shot as it were). The three images are then combined to form a single picture which allows for both the shadow areas and the highlights to be brilliantly displayed. With the TV picture, the normal contrast range can’t be used to increase detail, even if fiddled with to expand its view between light and dark. But HDR works at increasing the distance between light and dark while at the same time increasing the detail that contrast enhancing normally blurs. HDR obviates the old standards that “locked in” the picture to date
What is HDR’s Value
The advantages of watching a HDR TV’s picture can be immediately apparent. Thanks to being able to display a wider gamut of color and brightness, the HDR TV’s picture will be more vibrant and dynamic. Colors with be brighter and more rich and subtle (having more shades), while the level of detail will also have increased. This means that you aren’t getting inky dark pools where there are shadows but can “see” into them as you would in real life. The same goes for very bright areas which are no longer being “washed out.”
Content Must Have HDR Built-In
The video signal (i.e., the “content”) coming into the TV must be HDR-compliant if the TV with HDR can show off what it can do. There is the HDR10 standard which follows the baseline specifications for HDR content, and this standard will be found doing its thing in the upcoming Xbox One S game console. HDR-compliant discs are also available for watching through a 4K Blu-ray player (on a 4K HDR TV of course). There’s also Dolby Vision, which is being supported by some of the movie studios and some streaming services, for example Netflix and Vudu (since the can also handle HDR10, no fears there).
How to Get HDR
HDR can’t be gotten through a firmware update or by fiddling with settings — you need to get a built right into the electronics. Fortunately that’s easy, because there are many . All you need to do is look at the name (in some cases) or at the in order to see that HDR is part of what you’re getting.
Getting a new TV is always exciting, but being able to get a new TV that has HDR as part of it all means that you’re getting is a dynamic picture that is so much better than what has come before. That’s something you can see every time you sit back and watch.