What is Dolby Vision?
Dolby Vision is the brand name for a high dynamic range (HDR) 4K video format developed and promoted by the folks that brought us Dolby Surround and all its subsequent permutations. To use the Dolby Vision logo on a TV or Blu-ray player, manufacturers must pay to certify their products and license the name. The Dolby HDR format is also used in video production, making it a professional as well as a consumer brand.
As a refresher, HDR was introduced as a way for TVs to display a greater number of colors (by increasing the color gamut) and more-intense colors (by boosting specific brightness levels). Before HDR, sets were limited by an old video specification for HDTV known as Rec. 709, which was based on technical limitations going back to the ’90s.
Today’s LCD and OLED sets have the capacity to display many more colors than older sets, but they didn’t have a way to reach their full potential until HDR came along.
What’s the difference between HDR10 and Dolby Vision?
HDR10 can be thought of as the open standard for high dynamic range content and TVs. All HDR-labeled sets (or Ultra HD Premium sets) should be able to handle HDR10. This standard lays out the basics of the format so that an HDR TV can read and properly play HDR material. Specific instructions or metadata included in HDR programs tell the display or disc player how to map colors and set brightness levels. Those instructions are essentially fixed for the entire program. HDR10 is also open in the sense that it doesn’t dictate how, for example, movies should be encoded or compressed.
Conversely, Dolby Vision lays out many more specific instructions for compatibility with its format. In fact, Dolby’s specification has instructions for how movie production, broadcast TV and TV displays should encode and decode Dolby Vision HDR material. In terms of TVs, Dolby Vision is more technically demanding than HDR10 — with some important provisos.