Ultimate Guide to High Dynamic Range (HDR) in 4K TVs – Contrast, Wide Color Gamut, HDR Display and the Latest HDR Content

by on April 7, 2016


So what does HDR display quality in 2016 really depend on? Well, we think it revolves around several key things: high dynamic range, Color, contrast and the standards that are being developed for all of these by different companies. This is the technology that’s now garnering even more attention from both consumers and manufacturers than even 4K resolution itself, and we’re going to cover it in detail below.

Now, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what all these technologies mean and how you can select for their best features in your 4K UHD TV.

What is High Dynamic Range?

HDR is markedly superior to SDR in any TV of any size

HDR is markedly superior to SDR in any TV of any size

In very basic terms, HDR is the ability to expand the different stops of both bright and dark levels in a 4K TV for a wider, richer range of colors, much brighter, more realistic whites and much deeper, richer darks, all being manifested at the same time on the same display as needed. With this, a TV display takes on a more “dynamic” look and ultimately gives the content a viewer is looking at a far more vibrant and realistic appearance.

HDR furthermore also preserves detail in content in ways that SDR (standard dynamic range) can’t, with finer visual and color characteristics in both the brightest and darkest area of a picture being kept while colors in general look more natural and displayed scenes closer to how they’d appear when viewed directly by the naked eye.

What this means is that contrast and color are the two pillars of HDR technology and the new development in 4K TVs is aimed squarely at enhancing both to the maximum possible degree. Of course, there are many standards and mechanisms for how this should be done, and we’ll get to their finer points shortly but for now, a fundamental search for high quality HDR means expanding the quantity of nits (a unit of brightness) in bright content while decreasing them to the minimum possible degree in the darkest content. At the same time, color in 4K TVs should be expanded dramatically for the sake of enhancing HDR display still further.

Currently, the “ideal” HDR standard that key players are pushing for would involve a dynamic range of 0 to 10,000 nits, which would really bring 4K TVs close to what real life looks like (the sky on a sunny day offers about 30,000 nits of brightness to the naked eye). However, in practical reality, even the latest HDR standards for premium 4K ultra HD TVs cover only 0.05 to 1100 nits, with a standard of 0.0005 nits to 540 nits of brightness in the dimmer technology of OLED 4K TVs.

the High Dynamic Range display ´process for OLED 4K TVs

the High Dynamic Range display ´process for OLED 4K TVs

Thus, as you can see, this technology has plenty of room for improvement left in it, even if it’s already starting to look very good in the latest 4K HDR TV models on sale from 2015 and for 2016.

Does HDR have more importance than 4K resolution in Display?

The answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. You’ll note that all discussions of HDR technology today revolve around the technology working in 4K TVs. The reason for this is simple enough –high dynamic range is currently only offered and being developed commercially in the cutting edge of TV display and that lies strictly in the 4K and ultra HD resolution end of the television spectrum. Furthermore, all those extra pixels of 4K ultra HD display certainly help in creating a generally sharper, crisper image quality in a TV.

However, between the two display technologies, HDR is definitely the more visible and immediately notable spec with much more room for development and refinement left in it. A 4K TV can only ever have a maximum of 8.29 to 9 million pixels in it (depending on how you specifically define 4K resolution) and larger resolution technologies will likely take a while to develop due to their massive data requirements and will in any case not go beyond 8K resolution for the foreseeable future. High dynamic range on the other hand is still just in its infancy and even for the short term –the next couple of years—has a vast amount of development left to it as specific brightness levels are incrementally raised until they emulate reality and colors are also enhanced to a much greater degree of precision.

brightness and color are enhanced greatly by HDR, even in OLED TVs

brightness and color are enhanced greatly by HDR, even in OLED TVs

Furthermore, within the ranges of specific technologies that surround and make up the color and contrast specs in HDR, there are enormous variations of specs and functionality which can be tweaked.

Most importantly however, high quality HDR is simply so much more notable in any TV display when activated. While many viewers might have a hard time distinguishing an HD resolution from a 4K UHD resolution in a small to mid-sized 4K TV at normal viewing distances, high dynamic range in a 4K TV looks much more obviously better than standard dynamic range in any side-by-side comparison.

What makes a TV into an HDR display?

A 4K TV can’t just be an HDR television because it has a bright picture. There are actually highly specific specs behind the technology and there are also even different “levels” of HDR technology that can be applied to genuinely HDR-capable 4K TVs.

This slight confusion alone has actually caused some companies, like Samsung in particular in our experience, to claim that HDR exists in certain models without those TVs actually having more than very good SDR brightness and dark tone capacity or more than the basic hardware connectivity for the technology built into them. In 2015 it was not so loosely implied by Samsung that their JU-Series 4K televisions like the JU7100 and JU7500 were HDR models when in fact they are not. Only Samsung’s SUHD TVs offered genuine HDR of some type or another.


  • Shifting HDR Standards

Furthermore, since “levels” of high dynamic range power even among genuinely HDR TVs on the market exist, not all HDR labels are created equal. Thus, several 4K UHD TVs from 2015 had the necessary brightness, dark levels and other technologies to be called HDR TVs by their manufacturers. These included Sony’s 2015 X850C, X900C, X930C and X940C 4K Bravia TVs. They also included Samsung’s SUHD JS9500, JS9000 and JS8500 4K models. However, in 2016 a whole new HDR standard called “UHD Premium”  (more on this below) emerged from the UHD Alliance (of which all of these companies are binding members) and according to its exacting specs, HDR as it had been known in virtually all of these 2015 TVs was no longer good enough.

Thus, in 2016, “UHD Premium” HDR 4K TVs only consist of the 2015 Samsung and Sony flagship televisions, the SUHD JS9500 and the Sony XBR-X940C, and in the entire 2016 lines of SUHD and top-shelf 4K TVs from both companies. These would be the Samsung KS-Series SUHD models and Sony’s XBR-XD Series 2016 Bravia 4K TVs like the X850D, X900D and X940D.

  • HDR in OLED 4K TVs

Then there are LG’s OLED 4K TV models. The “UHD Premium” specs apply slightly differently to them, with much lower standards for peak brightness due to the inherent dimness of OLED technology and with these models, maybe only one, the late 2015 EF9500 could be considered an HDR OLED model, with only the 2016 OLED Signature G6 4K TV being a truly HDR OLED model.

Furthermore, we have other brands that produced no HDR 4K models in 2015 but are now following the “UHD Premium” or Dolby Vision standards for high dynamic range to create what they call real HDR 4K televisions for 2016. These brands include Hisense, TCL, Panasonic and others. Finally, there are also Vizio’s 4K UHD televisions, of which only two from 2015, the Reference Series, offered real HDR.

  • HDR Battles

Vizio however is in active dispute with the standards of the UHD Alliance and instead claims that the Dolby Vision specs for high dynamic range in its Reference Series 4K TVs are what provides superior HDR technology. The company’s 2016 P-Series 4K TVs all claim to have HDR but of the Dolby Vision kind, which does not depend on the new connectivity spec of HDMI 2.0a to move 4K UHD content with HDR encoding into a 4K TV.  LG’s OLED 4K TVs, TCL’s 4K TVs and content sources from companies like Roku and TCL will all also support Dolby Vision HDR, without the need for HDMI 2.0a.


The Ultra HD Premium certification logo

In contrast, all of the other 4K HDR TV models above do offer HDMI 2.0a as a key connectivity spec for the sake of their HDR capabilities.

So in summary, while the situation is confusing as far as which type of HDR goes for which 4K TV and how good the different HDR specs are. The bottom line is that 2016 4K TVs will for the most part all come with high dynamic range of some type or another.

The Two Pillars of High Dynamic Range

Aside from the confusion described above for the HDR landscape in TV display, we can definitely say that there are two core pillars of this technology which will be carefully implemented in all HDR standards. They are the following:

  • Contrast

Though HDR is about more than just contrast, this is one of the most important components of and HDR display system and refers to the difference between light and dark scenes in terms of brightness and its opposite. The greater the range of contrast, the greater the quality of high dynamic range as well.

With contrast, the ideal development is one in which an extremely bright bit of imagery can be placed next to an extremely dark piece of display space without any bleeding through of light occurring in the dark spots. OLED 4K TVs master this almost perfectly but can maintain only limited maximum brightness levels, normally no more than 600 nits, while LCD TVs can manage very high brightness of 1000 nits or more but also fail to completely eliminate minor amounts of light bleed-through in the dark sections of a screen.

In either case above, TV makers are faced with a dilemma if they want to call their TV an HDR model because the maximum brightness of a TV in nits has to be matched by a certain simultaneous level of darkness in lowest possible nit count for dark scenes. Getting both to happen isn’t easy. By the UHD Premium standards of the UHD Alliance, a 4K LCD TV can be considered an HDR model if it can manage at least 1100 nits of brightness while at the same time pulling off dark scenes with only 0.05 nits of light emission. For OLED 4K TVs, the blacks are perfect and much deeper than anything found in an LCD model, at only 0.0005 nits (barely detectable) in dark areas but with low levels of peak brightness, with the UHD Alliance standard requiring at least 540 nits.

Contrast technology at work in HDR

Contrast technology at work in HDR

Contrast of course also figures heavily in non-HDR 4K TVs with SDR display but the variations are much smaller. Your typical SDR TV might offer only 400 to 500 nits of peak brightness while managing just 0.5 nits of black level. Even many HDR TVs from 2015, before the advent of the UHD Premium and other major high dynamic range standards, usually offered no more than 600 or 700 nits of peak brightness.

  • Color Enhancements

The next key component of HDR is color enhancement. This is encoded into all major HDR standards and all new 4K UHD TVs with high dynamic range must offer up processing of what is known as 10-bit color. This is considered deep color and instead of offering 256 RGB (Red, Green, Blu) values, it offers 1024 of them. This amounts to a total of 1.06 billion colors instead of the 16 million offered by older 8-bit color TVs. Thus, the gradations between shades and different tones in onscreen content present a far greater degree of realism to the viewer.

With HDR TV standards, things also get a bit more complicated than the above. For starters, 4K HDR TVs don’t actually need to be able to display all of the colors in a 10-bit signal, they just need to be capable of processing them for the sake of delivering an image based on that information. This is a sort of indirect “10-bit color capacity”.

Furthermore, in HDR TV standards, a given television has to also manage what’s called P3 color, or at least 90% of it. P3 refers to the P3 part of the total color spectrum, which is quite a bit larger than the older Rec.709 color spectrum used in previous 4K TV models.

All of the above amounts to what is also called the “Wide Color Gamut” ideal among 4K TV makers, which means wider coverage of color spectrum and much smoother gradation between all possible shades in that covered spectrum space. It’s an extended part of developing highly realistic display quality and high quality HDR.

The difference in color quality created by Wide Color Gamut for HDR standards

The difference in color quality created by Wide Color Gamut for HDR standards

HDR Standards Overviewed

We have already briefly mentioned several different 4K high Dynamic Range standards above, so here is more detail on those. Currently, the two dominant versions, which are actually being used in consumer market 4K TVs of one kind or another, are Ultra HD Premium, from the UHD Alliance and Dolby Vision, from Dolby Labs. Beyond them, there are also several other major HDR definitions being developed without commercial use in consumer TVs. Here are the key specs and characteristics of the two main standards today:

  • Ultra HD Premium from the UHD Alliance:
The companies that make up the UHD Alliance

The companies that make up the UHD Alliance

These are the standards for 4K Display devices of any kind, and mainly 4K UHD TVS. For the wider UHD Alliance standards for content and content distributors, see here.

  • Display resolution: minimum of 3840 x 2160 pixels
  • Color bit depth: 10-bit signal
  • Color Palette: (Wide Color Gamut)
  • Signal Input: BT.2020 color representation
  • Display Reproduction: More than 93% of the DCI P3 color spectrum
  • High Dynamic Range
  • Both Peak Brightness and deep black levels of either more than 1000 nits and less than 0.05 nits of black, OR more than 540 nits of peak brightness and less than 0.0005 nits of black level. (This dual contrast standard is likely a direct sop to LG’s OLED technology, which can’t match the high nit levels of LCD/LED displays but can completely outmatch them in terms of how dark their blacks go, thus re-bracketing the range which constitutes HDR and deep contrast.

TVs which match the above high dynamic range and color standards during certification testing will get an “Ultra HD Premium” label, except for Sony 4K TVs, which will get Sony’s own “4K HDR” logo for matching these same standards above.

The Sony 4K HDR logo for UHD Premium certification

The Sony 4K HDR logo for UHD Premium certification

  • Dolby Vision HDR and color standards

Dolby Vision’s color and HDR standards are both a bit looser and also somewhat stricter than those of the UHD Alliance. For details on the Dolby Vision standard, you can check out the company’s white paper here.

However, these are the essentials of Dolby Vision, which are found in Netflix and Vudu 4K streaming HDR content and which are also used in TCL, Vizio and LG OLED 4K HDR TVs.

Dolby Vision HDR

Dolby Vision HDR

  • Dolby specifies a goal of 12-bit color and a whopping 10,000 nits of brightness for the cinematic master of a piece of content. No displays can currently handle 10K bits and 12-bt color is still not quite developed, so for content that’s currently being mastered for Dolby Vision, 4K nits and 10-bit color are allowed, particularly for broadcast content.
  • Variants of the 4000 nit peak brightness can also be created for HDR displays that can’t manage this but use Dolby Vision. Thus, even 4K HDR TVs that do 1000 nits of brightness or slightly more (like most of the 2016 consumer HDR TVs using the Dolby standard) can be considered certified by Dolby Vision
  • Dolby Vision requires dedicated silicon inside the TV. This means it can’t be added in via firmware updates but has to actually be physically built in.
  • Dolby Vision HDR does not require HDMI 2.0a and HDR TVs with Dolby like the Vizio Reference-Series models don’t have the technology.
  • Dolby Vision is also now being used by streaming HDR content from Netflix and VUDU, though both companies only offer limited HDR selections for now.
  • Dolby Vision is currently being applied in Vizio’s 2016 4K TVs, the LG OLED TVs for 2016 and in all TCL 4K UHD TVs with HDR for 2016.

As we’d said, other HDR standards are also being developed. These include the open source HDR10 standard and Technicolor’s own version of HDR, which is unique in that it will have the ability to turn SDR content into HDR content inside a 4K TV or other display device. However, these other standards aren’t yet found in any consumer market 4K UHD displays.

Dolby Vision is found in 4K TVs like the Vizio premium Reference Series models

Dolby Vision is found in 4K TVs like the Vizio premium Reference Series models

What about HDR Content?

Unfortunately, HDR televisions can’t quite yet simply take any piece of video entertainment and give it to you in high dynamic range. The content itself has to also be mastered for one type of HDR standard or another. Fortunately, this is now being done for all major sources of content from streaming to 4K Blu-ray discs in particular, which are all being put on sale with high dynamic range. The standards used vary among content providers but the majority of current 4K HDR video uses the UHD Premium specs for its mastering.

Your 4K HDR TV will of course deliver exceptional brightness and color to any content it displays, even non-ultra HD video but for the real 10-bit color coverage and wide range of peak brightness it’s capable of, the content displayed also has to be encoded with information that gives the TV instructions for greater dynamic range.

As for sources of 4K ultra HD video in HDR. There are quite a few now arriving on the market or already here. As we’d said above, all 4K ultra HD Blu-ray discs going on sale this year and for the foreseeable future are coming out with HDR encoded into them, though they can also be viewed on SDR 4K TVs without the HDR enhancements appearing. Furthermore, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Netflix and other streaming providers like Sony’s new Ultra service are all now providing high dynamic range selections. The content from Netflix and Vudu however uses the Dolby Vision HDR format and thus can only be viewed on Vizio and LG OLED 4K TVs in that format.

For the moment, your best source of high Dynamic Range content, if you have an UHD Alliance certified 4K TV or a 2015 HDR TV is to simply buy a 4K UHD Blu-ray player for the ability to watch what are already dozens of 4K movies that include HDR.

For an even larger guide on all the types of 4K content in general and HDR 4K content in particular available today, you can also check out our “Movies” page, which is updated regularly.

All 4K Blu-ray content now comes with HDR encoding

All 4K Blu-ray content now comes with HDR encoding

Which TVs support HDR?

4K ultra HD TVs which support high Dynamic Range are becoming the default for the UHD TV industry in 2016 and from here on out. That is to say that all major models from all major 4K TV brands released in 2016 now offer HDR. This includes all 2016 Sony 4K TVs, all 2016 Samsung 4K models and most of the 4K TVs from Vizio, LG, Panasonic, Hisense, TCL and Philips coming out or on sale this year.

For 2015 4K models, Sony’s 2015 X850C, X900C, X930C and X940C 4K Bravia TVs offered  HDR, and the selection for last year also included Samsung’s SUHD JS9500, JS9000 and JS8500 4K models. However, among these televisions, only the Samsung JS9500 and the Sony X940C offer high dynamic range and color that are good enough for the certification standards of 2016.

LG's G6 Signature OLED TV is one of the 2016 HDR models now on sale

LG’s G6 Signature OLED TV is one of the 2016 HDR models now on sale

Conclusion and Key Points to Keep in Mind

HDR is here to stay. That’s beyond a doubt at this point, especially given how much the technology improves the quality of the 4K home entertainment experience, possibly even more so than 4K UHD resolution itself. With that, yes, at some point, you’ll have to get a 4K TV with high dynamic range if you want the best in home entertainment and with that said, if you really want to get started on this now, you already can now that high dynamic range standards have settled quite a bit in 2016. Furthermore, if you’re planning on buying any kind of name brand 2016 4K TV in this year, then you’ll be getting an HDR model in any case, since virtually all new releases now come with the specs.

However, there is no need to rush out and buy a 4K HDR TV quite yet, especially not if you own a perfectly decent 2014 or 2015 4K UHD TV with an earlier version of HDR or even none at all. 4K content as a whole is still well away from really growing and most of your content viewing will be in upscaled SD and HD, both of which aren’t available in HDR anyhow. Furthermore, HDR standards are going to go a few more shifts anyhow, so you can easily wait for the dust to settle still further while you enjoy what is still a superb SDR 4K content viewing experience. HDR 4K video may be spectacular but that doesn’t mean normal 4K content is anything less than superb as it stands.

Leave a reply »

  • prop
    April 7, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Do not buy Panasonic TVs, they refuse to share discrete input codes to support third party remotes.


  • Sam
    April 7, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    I think this is a pretty good summary of HDR. Given that HDR still needs to shake out in the industry, I think it’s prudent to only buy a TV that supports both Dolby Vision and HDR 10. This year, that’s pretty much just LG’s OLEDs and Vizio’s P-Series (and maybe M-Series). It sounds like LG’s B6 will be amazing, but then again, a few years down the road the UHD standard that is widely adopted might be different than today, we just can’t know. So I think the wise move would be to buy the Vizio P-Series, and wait for two (well three in my case) things: 1. OLED prices to drop and the quality to be further refined 2. HDR to standardize across the entire industry and 3. someone to offer OLED with Google Cast. That last one is important to me, and yet another reason I would have trouble buying the LG OLED. I’m just hooked on casting, and right now for UHD casting, the Vizio P-Series is the only game in town. So my plan is to buy one this summer, and wait a few years before buying a more mature and refined OLED.


    • Martin Reynolds
      October 6, 2016 at 8:42 pm

      Make sure you buy the extra warranty on the Vizio P series. I bought the 50 inch thinking I would not need the extra warranty since this was Vizio’s most expensive set. It died 15 months after purchase, the panel seperated. Vizio told me sorry for your luck.


  • John Lawton
    May 4, 2016 at 10:52 pm

    I think that in the second photo the labels are the wrong way around. The screen on the left has bleached highlights and dense shadows, the one on the right has more detail in the light areas, for example the mountain and sky and shadows also show more gradation, for example the side of the van.


    • Daniel
      June 16, 2016 at 11:17 am

      It’s not really possible to compare HDR through pictures because the image we see in our monitors are not HDR. It’s one of those things that “you have to be there” to really see the difference.


      • Stephen
        June 16, 2016 at 11:12 pm

        This is an extremely important point to keep in mind with all HDR-SDR comparisons. They may convey differences of vibrancy and brightness in video and photo on your PC monitor or TV at a basic level but they’re still likely being viewed from an SDR display and it will in no way do justice to how rich live HDR looks when compared to ordinary SDR display. This applies particularly to some of the premium HDR video feeds we’ve seen in 2016.


        • Asad
          June 18, 2016 at 9:01 am

          Your trying to say that the difference between hdr and sdr is minor…a person who wont deeply take the analysis won’t see the difference between sdr and hdr…is that what your saying??


          • Stephen
            June 20, 2016 at 3:40 pm

            I don’t believe so Asad. We have stated here and in other pieces throughout this site that HDR, especially high-end HDR such as that which fits the standards set out for 2016 4K TVs, is much better than SDR in a 4K TV.

        • j
          January 9, 2017 at 8:19 am

          You may be right that one needs to see it in real life first, but just look at the picture of the birds, the colors from the non HDR tv is much more accurate to how the birds and the wood looks in real life the HDR looks bizarre.
          Looking at the picture of the city (Dolby vision), the old standard looks like you actually would be there, while the other looks like a long exposure heavily photoshoped picture that is far away from how it would actually look in real life if one would be there.

          But then, what can one expect from oled manufacturers, great contrast but totally bizarre colors.

          Maybe they just use bad examples, but if not then I would not want it for my TV that I’m about to buy. This article was viewed from a calibrated monitor. I guess I need to see this in real life to make a decision. But the examples here in this article really made me think that HDR is something to avoid.


  • mindmenglish
    May 28, 2016 at 7:59 am

    wow so should i get Panasonic 40cx600 4K or LG 43UH6100 4K tv with hdr pro? the panasonic has
    dropped its price from usd800 to usd600 after a year. while the LG just launched 2 mths ago for usd700. should i wait for other models for hdr compatible or wait few months for LG to reduce its price?


  • Mikala
    May 30, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I think that in the second photo the labels are the wrong way around. The screen on the left has bleached highlights and dense shadows, the one on the right has more detail in the light areas, for example the mountain and sky and shadows also show more gradation, for example the side of the van.


  • Jason
    July 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I have a Samsung 4K Smart TV without HDR capability. Is there anyway I can get HDR content without having to buy a new TV?



    • Stephen
      July 8, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Hello there Jason. I’m sorry but no. While you can of course view any 4K HDR content on your non-HDR 4K TV (as long as it has HDCP 2.2, H.265 and possibly VP9, all of which are part of nearly every late 2014, 2015 and 2016 4K TV) the HDR quality of this HDR content won’t display on a 4K TV without a display that’s capable of high dynamic range. HDR applies to both the content and display side of the 4K video experience. It requires an HDR TV to be visible in any content source.


  • Michael Gentry
    July 12, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Is it worth getting a 4K HDR TV with Dolby Vision?

    What is the difference between a 4K HDR TV with and without Dolby vision?


    • Stephen
      July 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      Hey there Michael, First of all yes, it’s definitely worth the extra expense to get a 4K HDR TV in general. However, for now, HDR10 standards dominate more than Dolby Vision so I’d lean for a model with HDR10 or both standards. LG’s 4K OLED TVs for 2016 are on the pricey side (some of them very much so) but they all support both standards. We expect this trend to expand down the road.

      As for your second question, Dolby Vision and HDR10 (Ultra HD Premium as it’s also known as) are different in the metrics by which they measure high dynamic range specs like peak brightness, color space coverage and deepest black level for both LCD and OLED TVs. HDR10 standards are quite specific, as our guide to HDR covers clearly here, while Dolby Vision’s standards are still a bit ambiguous in the difference between what they claim to aim for and what they accept in the 4K TVs they certify.

      Some great HDR models which support Dolby Vision are the already-mentioned LG OLED TVs of 2016 (the C6 and B6 or the more expensive E6 and G6) and Vizio’s 2016 P-Series TV models.


  • AS
    July 24, 2016 at 11:38 am

    From what I’ve read, the JS9500 wouldn’t meet the necessary specs to be UHD Premium certified either since it’s peak brightness is less than 1000 nits. Also the 2015 LG 4k OLEDs also didn’t get to 500 nits so they would also fall short.


    • Stephen
      July 25, 2016 at 2:39 pm

      Hey there AS, you are correct on the specific spec of peak brightness. In terms of this, the JS9500, the 2015 flagship SUHD TV didn’t reach even 800 nits for peak brightness and its black level was also just a tad too high for UHD Alliance certification. However, these are not major visual deficiencies and most users would barely notice them without a side-by-side comparison against a 2016 SUHD TV like the KS9000. On the other hand, the color performance of the JS9500 was easily good enough for UHD Alliance approval.

      As for the 2015 OLED models, no, none matched the minimum brightness requirements of Ultra HD Premium, though they all easily match the black level requirements and the color performance metrics. The EF9500 from the end of 2015 was the TV which came closest to being bright enough for high level OLED HDR display.


  • patricia
    August 7, 2016 at 9:05 am

    is there big difference hdr vs Dolby vision as i hear Samsung as hdr only but lg has hdr and Dolby vision but the lcd in the lg has bad color and Dolby vision does not work well as Samsung has better color and lcd has more color and it more colorful so do you lose anything not having a Dolby vision only having hdr will your lose color or will you still have all color effects with hdr


  • Mr. T
    August 14, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    Looking to purchase 75,78, unit in the next 12 months. Comparing specs, tending to Samsung. However, ( without your review) I cannot view the type of HDR standard utilized by the manufacturer. Ideally is to have both standards as per the LG units. How can a consumer get this info?


    • Stephen
      August 17, 2016 at 11:39 am

      Hello Mr. T, the Samsung 4K TVs all support HDR10 and Ultra HD Premium standards certification from the UHD Alliance. They do not support Dolby Vsion HDR. If you want both, your only full option is LG’s OLED 4K TVs for 2016 or Vizio’s 2016 P-Series 4K HDR TVs to a slightly lesser extent (they can read the HDR10 format via their HDMI ports but don’t match UHD Alliance brightness level specs).


  • Patrick
    August 26, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Hi Stephen! Thank you for the article. Very helpful.

    I have the late 2015 lg ef9500 which I believe is hdr compliant. What Is the difference between hdr compliant and hdr10? Does this mean my tv can’t handle the hdr 10 from my Xbox one s? And if it can’t, does that mean my Xbox one s isn’t utilizing my tv’s hdr capacity at all?


  • ariel s w martins
    September 1, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    One of the best explanations of HDR. It even corrects a lot of misconceptions.


  • Robert
    September 8, 2016 at 7:56 am

    So you are saying that Samsung lied in their anouncement about SUHD and especialy UHD models of 2015 getting the update to display HDR content?


  • Hugo martinez
    September 27, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Cual es mejor televisor una panasonic tc-55cx640 SDR o una sony xbr-55x700d HDR no se cual comprar quiero la mejor si me pueden ayudar me seria muy util la informacion gracias.


    • Stephen
      September 27, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      Hola Hugo como que los modelos de Panasonic no salen mucho al mercado en los Estados Unidos, los revisamos poco pero si hemos revisado el X700D y te puedo decir que es una muy buena television de “bajo” costo (comparado con el promedio de televisors 4K de 2016). El X700D ofrece exelente control de movimiento (motion control), color de 10-bit y es bueno en su capacidad para presentar negro y alto contraste. Considerando que el Panasonic es una television SDR, te recomiendo mas el X700D que si conocemos como buena television.


  • Martin Reynolds
    October 6, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    So the 8 bit color you speak of has to do with the 8 bit led panels? I was looking into the purchase of a Hisense 55 inch (55h8c)
    HDR compatible. In talking to Hisense they tell me the set is capable of reading HDR content and then displaying in SDR . I have a feeling this is true with a bunch of 2016 4k tv’s. Can you comment on this?


    • Brine
      December 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      I just bought this TV and it only displays HDR through a secondary device hooked up through your HDMI ports, such as the xbox one s or some other HDR player. The TV itself does not display HDR through it’s built in apps. It also does not use wide color gamut which is what really makes HDR notably better. And lastly you also cannot download new apps with the TV. Your limited to the ones it comes with which aren’t many. I think they false advertise saying it displays HDR when in fact it does not without going through a secondary device which are not inexpensive. And for it to be called a smart tv but unable to download apps is also ridiculous. I just boxed mine back up and I’m returning it for those reasons. I couldn’t tell the difference playing movies with HDR from the xbox from regular 4k either.


  • Gomzy
    October 10, 2016 at 10:24 am

    Very informative article. Does the Vizio P65-C1 support both HDR10 and Dolby VIsion?


  • Sampson
    October 15, 2016 at 6:20 am

    So I’m confused is the TLC 4k just SDR? It looks great and looked better than some in stores but with a UHD Blu-ray player I can get the HDR look? Or does TLC use dolby or UHD instead of hdr? I got a good price so I wouldn’t be surprised if I got the junk model


  • Greg
    November 17, 2016 at 9:00 am

    Hi everyone I am new to the 4K TV a few week ago I bought this model LG – 65″ Model: 65UH5500SKU. It has HDR and I have been playing around with the picture settings trying to find what works best for me. So I was wondering if some of you all would have any recommendations.



    • Stephen
      November 18, 2016 at 12:25 am

      Hey there Greg. For some basic settings, I’d suggest the following, (this will apply nicely to a majority of movies and TV shows):

      For starters, if you want some real control of HDR settings, brightness and other key specs in this model, shut off its energy savings mode right away in the “Picture” menu. Then going into finer detail, you should set the TV to ‘Expert (Dark Room)’ picture mode. With this enabled you can finely adjust the TV’s Backlight, contrast, brightness and Sharpness (V and H) settings as you like in the “Picture Mode Settings”. We recommend settings as follows, but you can change these depending on your own preferences or room lighting:

      Contrast: 100
      Brightness: 60
      Backlight: 40
      Sharpness (V and H levels): set them to zero unless you’re watching badly formatted content or sportscasts, then up them a bit but beware of the weird oversharpened look they can produce.

      I’d recommend leaving color to its default setting in the same menu. Start with these settings and see what you think, from there play around with more complex stuff like Ultra HD Deep Color for HDR color. You should also activate the “noise reduction” setting for low-quality content like some DVDs, but turn it off for high quality Blu-ray or streaming 4K video watching.


  • Max
    November 29, 2016 at 8:54 am

    I have a 6 year old LG 50PX950-UA Plasma that offers a Wide Color Gamut, High Dynamic Color, and High Dynamic Contrast. I’ve looked at the current 4K HDR TVs and I will tell you, with the exception of LG OLEDs, my plasma out performs what I’ve seen on the market hands down. My plasma has better blacks, fuller color, and a natural film like picture which looks awesome when viewing tv shows and movies.

    On the other hand, I think the 4k HDR TVs will out perform my plasma when sports and other live events are broadcast in 4K but that’s way down the road.


  • Gianni G
    December 6, 2016 at 12:49 am

    Hello, Can someone help me, please. I recently bought the sony 49x800d at best buy. I do notice that TV and Streaming content looks great!! but cable movies look very very dark. I was wondering which TV would be better in the $650 price range. Before I bought this tv I was considering the Samsung 50KU6300. Would you keep the sony or go for the 6300? I have 4 more days to return the Sony. Thank yoU!


  • Luke Turner
    April 3, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I have a 2015 Samsung 40″ 4ktv and it didnt have HDR. But in 2016 I got a software update that gave my tv the ability to display HDR from my devices. It looks great.


    • Stephen
      April 4, 2017 at 10:54 pm

      Hi there Luke, have you actually noticed a visual difference? HDR is mostly not a firmware technology unless a TV is already physically designed to display HDR to some degree, with the capacity for specific color and contrast delivery levels. HDR10 reading capacity via HDMI 2.0a updates and such is certainly possible but this does not ensure actual HDR content representation on a screen.


  • Mark
    November 21, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Hi, I assume if a TV has Dolby vision then it must have HDR10 as well right?


    • Stephen
      November 22, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Hi there Mark. this is correct. HDR10 is automatically supported in Dolby Vision 4K HDR TVs across the board. This is why we prefer models with the DV format. You instantly get the best of both worlds.


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