Dolby Vision vs HDR10+ vs HDR 10: High dynamic range formats explained

Don’t let the HDR format terminology confuse you

Pretty much every big-screen television around today is an Ultra-HD option with support for high dynamic range content. What’s more, the price of these televisions is a lot more varied, giving you options in various budgets ranging from affordable to very high-end. While most big-screen TVs do support HDR content, there’s a bit to decipher when it comes to the various HDR formats on offer, and it makes sense to put a bit of thought and effort into your choice of TV based on this.

There are three major HDR formats for televisions in India - Dolby Vision, HDR10+, and HDR10. Different televisions support different formats, so you will have to base your choice on not only the TV brand you like, but also on the content you expect to watch on your new TV. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the various high dynamic range formats for Ultra-HD TVs.

What is HDR10?

The most basic of the three HDR formats on comparison here, HDR10 is an open standard that can not only be adopted by television makers directly, but is also the backwards-compatibility format for other formats. HDR10 supports a maximum 10-bit colour depth, supporting a little over 1 billion colours across the spectrum - considerably higher than the 16.7 million colours supported by the 8-bit standard dynamic range format.

HDR10 content can be mastered at anywhere between 400 to 4000 nits, which also means that the minimum brightness level is a lot lower than that of HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. It’s also locked to static metadata - this means that the brightness and tone mapping remains the same across the content (such as a movie or series episode). 

It’s also the most widely available format, and the fact that it works as the default backwards compatibility format for other formats makes it widely used across devices. Practically all modern Ultra-HD televisions support HDR10, and popular content - both streaming and on physical media - works with the format.

What is HDR10+?


One of the two specialised high dynamic range formats, HDR10+ takes it up a notch from HDR10 in a number of ways. HDR10+ supports a theoretical bit depth of higher than 10 bits, which means that it can work with more colours than the HDR10 standard - potentially up to 68.7 billion colours. Naturally, this makes for more accurate colour reproduction, as well as more room for subtle colour variations that make scenes look cleaner and more composed.

HDR10+ content can be mastered between 1000 and 4000 nits, giving it a higher minimum brightness level that makes it better suited to televisions and displays with bright panels. You also get dynamic metadata, so different scenes can have different levels of brightness and tone mapping, depending on how the content has been mastered. You’ll see the differences where bright scenes appear brighter, while dark scenes showcase detail without a whitewash effect.

Where HDR10+ falls behind, to some extent, is in compatibility. Samsung is among the major brands to support the format for its televisions, and some televisions from brands such such as Xiaomi and OnePlus also support the format. Even streaming devices in the Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV range support the format, but you’ll also need a compatible display to make it work.

Streaming services and physical media do support HDR10+ to some extent; Amazon Prime Video is among the major services which deliver a wide selection of streaming content in the HDR10+ format. For content from other streaming services such as Netflix, your HDR10+ display will use backwards compatibility with HDR10 to display the content.

What is Dolby Vision?

As the name suggests, Dolby Vision is a proprietary high dynamic range format and standard developed by Dolby. It supports a bit-depth of up to 12 bits, and can thus theoretically handle up to 68.7 billion colours. However, most HDR content today is available in 10-bit encoding, but the format is capable of higher bit-depth content as and when it might be available.

Dolby Vision content is mastered between 1000 to 4000 nits (although the format supports up to a theoretical 10,000 nits), so you get a higher minimum brightness level than standard HDR10 content. There is also support for dynamic metadata, and Dolby Vision thus matches up to the capabilities of HDR10+ in these regards - you’ll get similar levels of brightness and quality of tone mapping on Dolby Vision, as with HDR10+.

Compatibility is where Dolby Vision stands out, not only when it comes to devices such as televisions, streaming devices, and smartphones, but also with regards to which streaming services support it. Televisions from various brands and across all price segments come with support for Dolby Vision, including popular brands such as Sony, LG, Xiaomi, and Hisense. 

There is also wide support for Dolby Vision on both physical media as well as on streaming services. In India, Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, and Apple TV+ (along with Apple TV for library titles) all support Dolby Vision.

Which one should you pick? HDR formats compared

HDR10 Plus

HDR10 is obviously the most widely used of the three, particularly when you consider that it’s the fall-back format for when your content and display formats don’t match. However it’s also a fact that you’ll get HDR10 capabilities even if you get a TV with support for either Dolby Vision or HDR10+. That leaves the two superior options to realistically choose from.

On technical capabilities, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ match up fairly evenly, and offer similar levels of performance when used with the right hardware and content. That said, Dolby Vision has a bit of an edge in terms of availability and utility; more TV brands support Dolby Vision than HDR10+, as do more streaming services.

HDR10+ can still make sense in some situations - if you tend to watch a lot on Amazon Prime Video, you might be inclined to get a TV with HDR10+ support. If you prefer Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar, or Apple TV+ (or have subscriptions to all three) then try to get a TV with Dolby Vision instead. 

Your brand preferences will also have some role here, since brands have tended to align with one or the other format. Of course, the ideal scenario would be to get a TV with support for both HDR10+ and Dolby Vision, and there are a few options that have this. Whatever you go for, pick wisely.