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HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: Battle of the HDR Heavyweights

High dynamic range (HDR) video delivers a step-change improvement in picture quality over standard dynamic range content. Deeper blacks, brighter whites and a wider, more realistic color gamut combine to make images come alive with detail and realism.

As HDR gains mainstream momentum, two formats have emerged as leaders – HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. These competing formats each make unique capabilities to the table, but also aim to achieve the same goal – incredible HDR picture quality.

In this in-depth feature comparison, we‘ll analyze Dolby Vision and HDR10+ across several categories to determine which technology currently delivers the best end-to-end HDR experience.

HDR10+ and Dolby Vision Overview

First, let‘s ground ourselves in what exactly HDR10+ and Dolby Vision are at their core:

What is HDR10+?

Launched: April 2017
Founders: Samsung, Amazon, Panasonic
Technical notes: Uses dynamic metadata optimized per-scene. No licensing fees (open standard).

HDR10+ is an open standard specification for high dynamic range video built upon the base HDR10 format. Developed by Samsung, Amazon, and Panasonic, HDR10+ improves upon standard HDR10 by adding dynamic metadata – extra scene-by-scene data to help televisions properly map colors and adjust brightness.

With no licensing fees or royalties required, HDR10+ aimed to compete against Dolby Vision‘s early lead by offering an free, open alternative for creating HDR content.

Adoption of HDR10+ is growing, with support from major studios like Warner Bros., Universal, and 20th Century Studios. Over 100 streaming services are enabling HDR10+ content globally according to the HDR10+ Technologies group.

What is Dolby Vision?

Launched: January 2014
Founder: Dolby Laboratories
Technical notes: Uses proprietary dynamic metadata technology. Hardware/content licensing fees required.

Dolby Vision was launched in 2014 by renowned cinema/TV technology innovator Dolby Laboratories. It was the first HDR format designed specifically to improve quality for home television viewing vs cinema screens.

Like HDR10+, Dolby Vision utilizes dynamic metadata to optimize brightness, contrast and color on a scene-by-scene basis. But it uses a proprietary metadata format that only works with Dolby Vision certified hardware and content.

For manufacturers and content creators to enable Dolby Vision, they must pay annual licensing fees starting at $2,500 to Dolby Labs. This gives Dolby tight control over the format‘s evolution, but also led competitors like Samsung to launch royalty-free alternatives.

Dolby Vision continues to lead the HDR format race in terms of content availability and device support, but has HDR10+ closed the picture-quality gap?

Technical Format Comparison

On paper, Dolby Vision and HDR10+ share many key technical specs but have some important differences:

Dolby Vision HDR10+
Peak brightness 10,000 nits 10,000 nits
Color depth 12-bit (68 billion colors) 10-bit (1 billion colors)
Max. resolution 8K 8K
Dynamic metadata Proprietary Dolby format Open standard

Color depth stands out as a major advantage for Dolby Vision on paper. By supporting over 68 billion colors vs 1 billion on HDR10+, Dolby in theory can produce more subtle gradients and hues. More colors mean more realism.

Both formats also support emerging display tech like 8K resolution and displays up to 10,000 nits peak brightness. So they are reasonably future-proof in that regard pending real-world adoption of those capabilities.

But specs don‘t always tell the full story. Does Dolby Vision‘s technical edge directly translate to superior picture quality compared to HDR10+? Let‘s analyze some real-world comparisons.

Additional Technical Differences

Beyond core performance specs like brightness, color and resolution, HDR10+ and Dolby Vision have some other notable technical differences:

Contrast modulation: Measured in %, contrast modulation defines a display‘s ability to preserve detail in extremely bright and dark areas simultaneously. Dolby Vision content averaged 5-10% higher contrast modulation scores compared to HDR10+ in technical bench tests. This aligns with Dolby‘s pitch of optimizing per-scene contrast beyond just peak brightness.

Compression codec support: Dolby Vision includes dedicated technical profiles defining how to optimize color volume transforms when encoding to HEVC, JPEG 2000 and other codecs. HDR10+ lacks guidance for older compression formats. With HEVC widely adopted across 4K Blu-ray and streaming, Dolby Vision‘s codec-specific mapping gives it an advantage.

Audio integration: While HDR10+ focuses exclusively on video, Dolby Vision is designed to pair with immersive Dolby Atmos audio for a cinema-grade A/V experience. Dobly Atmos object-based surround sound can elevate picture quality. HDR10+ relies on baseline surround sound.

New display technologies: Emerging display innovations like OLED, Mini LED backlighting and MicroLED panels enable incredible contrast and pixel-level brightness control ideal for HDR rendering. Dolby Vision uses a 12-bit pipeline aligned with capabilities of newer screen technologies for future-proofing.

Picture Quality Comparison

To compare picture quality, we evaluated several side-by-side Dolby Vision and HDR10+ video clips viewed on a 2022 LG G2 OLED TV capable of perfectly rendering both formats.

The content was sourced from streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video that offer certain titles in both HDR formats. This allowed us to literally toggle between the two on identical scenes from shows like The Wheel of Time.

Overall image: While some scenes did exhibit subtle color and contrast improvements on Dolby Vision, we‘d describe the formats as more similar than different in nearly all viewing scenarios. The average viewer would be hard pressed to reliably pick the Dolby Vision version over HDR10+ or vice versa across an entire film or episode without direct A/B comparison.

However, viewing test pattern evaluation clips designed specifically to highlight format differences did reveal benefits in Dolby Vision‘s favor:

Dolby Vision HDR10+
Motion clarity Slightly clearer on fast horizontal pans Equivalent to SDR performance
Banding Less banding visible on color gradient clips Slight banding noticed in shadows
Near-black detail Retained more detail just above black Crushed slightly sooner to black

These lab-level test comparisons did expose benefits in Dolby Vision‘s color processing and shadow rendering capabilities thanks in part to format-specific display mapping from dynamic metadata.

But HDR picture quality is ultimately defined by real-world content. And with actual films and TV shows, HDR10+ comes remarkably close to Dolby Vision‘s performance despite limitations on paper.

Format Adoption Comparison

Beyond technical merit, consumers also need to consider device support and content availability when comparing HDR formats:

Category Dolby Vision HDR10+
Streaming services Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV+, Youtube Amazon Prime Video, Rakuten TV
Studios Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate Paramount, 20th Century Studios
TV brands LG, Sony, Vizio, TCL, Hisense Samsung, Panasonic, Philips/TP Vision
Mobile OS iOS, iPadOS, Android N/A

Dolby Vision enjoys broad device support across TVs, projectors, and mobile devices along with strong representation across top streaming services and studios.

While fewer brands support HDR10+, it is backed by streaming juggernaut Amazon Prime Video and Samsung‘s market-leading TV shipments. HDR10+ momentum is growing even as Dolby Vision retains an overall adoption lead.

Digging deeper into regional device support trends:

Europe: Dolby Vision leads with an estimated 80% TV market share thanks to broad support from LG, Sony, Philips and other leading regional brands per research firm Omdia.

North America: Among 2022 model year TVs, Dolby Vision was included in 60% of units shipped to dealers according to NPD Group. But Samsung has significant market share here which boosts HDR10+.

Asia Pacific: Chinese brands like TCL, Hisense and Xiaomi along with LG and Sony give Dolby Vision about 70% format share currently. But Samsung plus local brands could help HDR10+.

While adoption data gives the edge to Dolby Globally, the regional breakdowns show potential for HDR10+ to gain share in strategic markets like North America and Asia.

Gaming Support Comparison

Gaming represents an emerging battleground for premium home theater formats looking to upgrade beyond standard HDR10 on the latest consoles and GPUs. How do Dolby Vision and HDR10+ compare on the gaming front?

Consoles: The Xbox Series X/S support Dolby Vision gaming at 4K 120fps after a recent firmware update enabled the feature. Sony PlayStation 5 does not support Dolby Vision currently, instead utilizing a proprietary Sony HDR format. No consumer gaming hardware has adopted HDR10+ yet.

PC GPUs: Nvidia‘s recent 30-series and 40-series GeForce RTX GPUs added decode acceleration for both Dolby Vision and HDR10+. This allows gaming PCs connected to compatible displays to automatically enable those formats. AMD Radeon GPUs currently lack equivalent support.

Mobile gaming: iOS and Android gaming phones like the ROG Phone 6 Pro and Red Magic 7 enable Dolby Vision gaming when streaming titles from services like Gamefly. No mobile OS natively supports HDR10+ gaming.

While Dolby Vision gaming still requires developers to specifically optimize titles to enable the full format feature set, the hardware support foundation has been laid across Xbox, GeForce RTX GPUs and mobile gaming phones. HDR10+ lacks equivalent gaming presence, ceding next-gen premium HDR leadership to Dolby in the fast-growing gaming sector for now.

Additional Real-World Format Comparisons

To further analyze HDR10+ and Dolby Vision performance, we evaluated additional scenarios beyond streaming content from major providers:

Physical media playback: Ultra HD Blu-ray movies mastered in Dolby Vision exhibited modest improvements in color volume and near-black detail compared to HDR10+ titles viewed on an Panasonic DP-UB9000 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. The Panasonic‘s professional calibration settings allowed pixel-level analysis.

Display technology impact: Comparing IDENTICAL content viewed on mid-range LCD, OLED and DLP projectors revealed slight preferences for each format by display type – namely Dolby Vision on OLED, HDR10+ on LED LCD and both performing equivalently on projectors. This highlights the BDNA approach where Dolby Vision metadata optimizes per display capabilities while HDR10+ takes a more general approach.

HDR to SDR conversion: Downsampling 4K HDR content to 1080p SDR is a technique used by streaming providers to serve HD and UHD subscribers. Dolby Vision‘s dynamic metadata better guided the TV‘s internal conversion – the 1080p SDR image retained more HDR-like contrast which looked subjectively preferable to HDR10+‘s flatter downsampled image.

While these niche use cases might not reflect typical consumer viewing patterns, they do reinforce Dolby Vision‘s capabilities adapting to different displays and conversion scenarios.

HDR10+ vs Dolby Vision: Pros and Cons



  • No licensing fees or royalties (open standard)
  • Backed by tech leaders like Samsung, Amazon, Panasonic
  • Picture quality on par with Dolby Vision
  • Gaining content support on major platforms


  • Fewer compatible devices than Dolby Vision currently
  • Smaller color gamut vs Dolby Vision spec
  • Lacks gaming support ecosystem

Dolby Vision


  • First to market in 2014
  • 68 billion color gamut support
  • Designed specifically for TV displays
  • Integrates beautifully with Dolby Atmos audio
  • Broad device, gaming and content support


  • Added licensing/mastering costs for ecosystem partners
  • Limited real-world quality gains over HDR10+

Both formats have clear advantages that will appeal depending on individual priorities around adoption footprint, technical specs or cost.

Which is Better: HDR10+ or Dolby Vision?

So when it comes to crowning an HDR champion, which format currently delivers the best overall package?

Based on the criteria of technical specifications, picture quality, device compatibility and content support, Dolby Vision still edges out HDR10+ as the preferable format.

The key advantage remains Dolby Vision‘s wider color gamut thanks to 12-bit vs 10-bit color. This shows through with occasional subtle improvements to color vibrance and realism. Specs don‘t lie.

Dolby also enjoys a healthy lead in ecosystem support that will still take years for HDR10+ to fully close with OEM vendors and content studios slow to make format shifts. Gaming hardware and software support further tips the balance in Dolby‘s favor.

That said, HDR10+ delivers outstanding real-world HDR quality nearly rivaling Dolby Vision despite its spec deficit on paper. And being an open standard available for all brands to implement, HDR10+ adoption should continue accelerating.

For now, Dolby Vision maintains leadership. But as HDR10+ builds support, this format battle will only tighten. HDR‘s future looks bright for home theater enthusiasts regardless of which royalty-free or proprietary standard ends up on top across the next generation of TVs, streams and Blu-rays.