Dolby Vision and HDR10 – What It Means For TV Viewers

Ultra HD – More Than Just Resolution

The number of TV’s boasting 4K display resolution has exploded, and for good reason, who doesn’t want a more detailed TV image?

However, 4K resolution is just one part of what is now referred to now as Ultra HD.

In addition to increased resolution, to make the video look better – improved color is one extra factor that helps, but the other factor that improves picture quality significantly is HDR.

What HDR Is

HDR stands for High Dynamic Range.

The way HDR works is that in the mastering process for selected content destined for theatrical or home video presentation, the full brightness/contrast data captured during the filming/shooting process is encoded into the video signal.

When encoded the signal is sent to an HDR-enabled TV, the information is decoded, and the High Dynamic Range information is displayed, based on the brightness/contrast capability of the TV. If a TV is not HDR-enabled, it will simply display the images without the High Dynamic Range information.

Added to 4K resolution and wide color gamut, an HDR-enabled TV (combined with properly-encoded content), can display brightness and contrast levels close to you would see in the real world. This means bright whites without blooming or washout, and deep blacks without muddiness or crushing.

For example, if you have a scene that both very bright elements and darker elements in the same frame, such as a sunset, you will see both the bright light of Sun and the darker portions of the rest of the image with equal clarity. The result: A better TV viewing experience.

For more details on HDR, check out the following report from About.com TV/Video: HDR Explained.

How HDR Implementation Is Affecting Consumers

There are currently two HDR formats in use, HDR10 and Dolby Vision. HDR10 is an open royalty-free standard, while the use of Dolby Vision requires a licensing fee.

Of course, what makes things confusing for consumers, is that neither format is compatible with the other as they apply HDR in slightly different ways. HDR10 is considered more generic as its parameters are applied equally throughout a specific piece of content, and the TV decides how to display the information, while Dolby Vision is considered more precise in that it can adjust HDR parameters on a frame-by-frame basis, based on .

This state of affairs means that some HDR-enabled TVs or video projectors are compatible with content using the HDR10 format, while other TVs or video projectors may be compatible with Dolby Vision – and to make things even more confusing, as of 2016, the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format has only implemented HDR10, although there is no technical limitation that wouldn’t enable Dolby Vision to also be used. However, streaming providers, such as Netflix and Amazon, which have been offering content in HDR10, have both added the Dolby Vision option to some of their offerings. On the other hand, Vudu only offers HDR content encoded with Dolby Vision.

On the TV end, LG’s 2016 Super UHD LED/LCD and Ultra HD OLED TVs are compatible with both Dolby Vision and HDR10, and Vizio’s 2016 and newer P,M, and R Series TVs, although starting off with Dolby Vision compatibility only, will be adding HDR10 compatibility via firmware update later in 2016.

It is also important to point out that while Vizio’s P, M, and R series TVs are all Dolby Vision compatible,  as of the publication date of this article, only the Vizio R Series has access to the Amazon Instant Video app. This means, that for the time being, the Vizio P and M series TVs will only be able to access Dolby Vision content from Netflix and Vudu.

However, that still leaves select TVs from Hisense, Samsung, and Sony, which are only compatible with HDR10.

So, What is available to watch in HDR10 and Dolby Vision?

As of 2016, HDR10 content can be accessed (provided you have an HDR10 compatible TV from one of the brands mentioned above) via some content offered by Netflix and Amazon, as well as the Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc format. There will be a total of four Ultra HD Blu-ray disc playersavailable (one each from Samsung, Philips, and Panasonic, plus the Xbox One S) by the end of 2016.

Of course, in addition to the player, consumers will also need access to disc content. For details on available Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc titles, read my report: First Wave Of True Ultra HD Blu-ray Discs Announced, as well as a running list posted on Blu-ray.com (click on the month).

However, for Dolby Vision, you don’t need a special player yet, but what you do need is a 4K Ultra HD Smart TV from either LG or Vizio that has the internal hardware and software support to decode Dolby Vision content via streaming from services such as Netflix, Vudu, and the most recent to join in, Amazon. Also, with regards to streaming, take note of broadband speed requirements and monthly data caps.

Amazon HDR10 and Dolby Vision Titles Include: The Smurfs 2, After Earth, Men in Black 3, Hancock, Salt, Pineapple Express, Fury, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Chappie and Elysium – Minimum broadband speed required: 15 Mbps.

Netflix HDR10/Dolby Vision Titles Include: Marco Polo: Season 1 is currently available in Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10, with more to come (refer to list) – Broadband speed required: 15-to-25 Mbps

Vudu (Dolby Vision-Only) Titles Include: Mad Max: Fury Road, San Andreas, Jupiter Ascending, Man of Steel, The Lego Movie, and more – Minimum broadband speed required: 11 Mbps

Note: If an Amazon title is offered in both Dolby Vision and HDR10, and your TV is only compatible with HDR10, the HDR10 version will be provided. If the TV is Dolby Vision, or Dolby Vision and HDR10 compatible, the Dolby Vision version will be provided.

With the steady pace of both Dolby Vision and HDR10-encoded content releases – all we need is more TVs that offer both options.

Note: If you have a 4K Smart TV that allows access to 4K streaming content, but is not HDR compatible, or you have an external 4K media streamer, such as the Roku 4 or the 4K version of the Amazon Fire TV, which are also not HDR compatible, you will still be able to access the 4K resolution portion of the stream, without the HDR enhancement information.

Examples of TVs 4K Ultra HD TVs With HDR

LG C6P Series OLED TVs (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) – Buy From Amazon

LG UH7700 Series Super UHD TVs (HDR10 and Dolby Vision) – Buy From Amazon

Vizio P-Series Home Theater Displays (Dolby Vision – HDR10 via Firmware Update) Available at Best Buy

Samsung KS8000 Series SUHD TVs (HDR10 Only) – Buy from Amazon

Sony XBR-X850D Series TVs (HDR10 Only) – Buy From Amazon

More Info:

Official Dolby Vision Page For Consumers and Official Dolby Vision Technical White Paper

HDR10 Specifications

Does HDR Have Limits? – 4K Blu-ray vs Blu-ray Reveals HDR Is Too Dim for Daytime (HDTV Test)

Color Perception and Your TV

The LG Experience Gives Consumers The Opportunity To Get Hands-On Demos of 4K Ultra HD, Dolby Vision, and HDR10-enabled TVs.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

What Does the .1 Mean in Surround Sound

One of the concepts that confuses consumers is what the terms 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1 mean with regards to surround sound and home theater receiver specifications.

It Is All About The Subwoofer

In the terms 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1, the first number refers to the number of channels that are present in a soundtrack or the number of channels that a Home Theater Receiver can provide. These channels reproduce a full range of audio frequencies, from high frequencies to normal bass response. This number is usually 5, 6, or 7 you may also find on some home theater receivers, it can be as high a 9 or 11.

In addition to 5,6,7 or more channels, another channel is also present, which only reproduces the extreme low frequencies. This extra channel is referred to as the Low Frequency Effects (LFE) channel.

This channel is designated with the term .1, due to the fact that only a portion of the audio frequency spectrum is reproduced. In addition, this LFE channel requires the use of specialized speaker, called a Subwoofer.

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Quick Tip: Proper Speaker Placement For A 6.1 Home Theater

A Subwoofer is designed only to reproduce extreme low frequencies, and cuts-off all other frequencies above a certain point, usually in the range of  100HZ to 200HZ.

So, next time you see the terms Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Digital EX (6.1), Dolby TrueHD 5.1 or 7.1,DTS 5.1, DTS-ES (6.1), DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 or 7.1, or PCM 5.1 or 7.1, you will know what the terms are referring to.

The .2 Exception

You will also run into some home theater receivers that are labeled as having 7.2, 9.2, 10.2, or even 11.2 channels. In these cases, the .2 designation means that these receivers have two subwoofer outputs. You don’t have to use both, but it may come in handy if you have a very large room, or are using a subwoofer with lower power output that you desire.

The Dolby Atmos Factor

To complicate things a little more, if you have a Dolby Atmos-enabled home theater receiver and surround sound setup, the speaker designations are labeled a little differently. In Dolby Atmos, you will encounter channel/speaker setups that are labeled as 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.2, or 7.1.4.

In the Dolby Atmos nomenclature, the first number refers to the traditional 5 or 7 channel horizontal speaker layout, the second number is the subwoofer (if you are using 2 subwoofers, the middle number can be a 1 or a 2), and the third number refers to number of vertical, or height, channels, which are represented by either ceiling mounted or vertically firing speakers. For more details, read my article: Dolby Reveals More Details On Dolby Atmos For Home Theater.

For a more detailed explanation of Surround Sound and what the terms Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, and DTS mean, check out my resource article: The History and Basics of Surround Sound.

In addition, for more information on Subwoofers, check out my resource article: Subwoofers – What You Need To Know

The Logitech Harmony Elite and Pro Remote Control Systems Profiled

It seems that everything in the home these days, from home theater and multi-room audio systems, as well as some security systems, and even some window shade and lighting products can be remotely controlled.

However, this can also make it more complicated as you can end up with a table or drawer full of remotes. Of course, you can always opt for an expensive custom-installed home theater/home control system which requires a lot of in-wall wiring, but Logitech is offering up a simpler solution, the Harmony Elite Remote Control System.

The Harmony Elite consists of the three elements: A single handheld Harmony remote control, the Harmony Hub, and a Smartphone App.

The Remote Control

The Harmony Elite is a full featured remote control that incorporates a 2.4-inch color touchscreen, in addition to keypad controls, and can control up to 15 devices. The remote is also backlit, so the buttons are easily accessible in a darkened room.

For TV and home theater use, you can change channels, adjust volume, fast-forward, or rewind using gestures on the easily viewable 2.4-inch touchscreen.

Also, just was it most universal remotes, you can program in your favorite channels (up to 50) for direct access without scrolling all available channels, as programming activities, such as Play a Blu-ray Disc, which will turn all of the needed components (Blu-ray Disc player, Home Theater Receiver, TV) as well as switching to the proper input settings) to enjoy your home theater experience.

Vibration feedback adds another control convenience, so you don’t have to take your eyes off the TV screen when using some of the remote’s functions.

The Harmony Elite provides specific control options for digital media players, cable/satellite, andDVR components.

In addition to your theater components, you can also control compatible smart home devices, such as security and lighting systems.

The Harmony Elite provides a long lasting rechargeable battery, and a charging station is provided.

The Harmony Hub

To complement the remote control part of the Harmony Elite system, one Harmony Hub is also provided in the package. The remote sends commands to the Hub, which, in turn, relays the control commands to home theater and other compatible devices using IR, Wifi, or Bluetooth – whichever is required. With Wifi and Bluetooth capability, the Hub can communicate with devices through cabinets and walls, as long they are in range.

Also, two mini-IR blasters are included in the package for easier communication with IR control-based components, if needed.

Note: For multiple rooms you may need more hubs depending on your setup, which can be purchased separately.

Harmony Smart Phone App

You not always have harmony remote handy (or it may be charging), so, for added convenience, Logitech also provides a free downloadable app that allows users to use their iOS or Andriod smart phone as a basic remote control.

Once the app is downloaded, you can either enter brands and model numbers of the devices you want to control, or you can scan your home network for devices and it will automatically download the appropriate remote control codes from the Logitech Harmony online database.

Additional Requirements and Support

To set up the Harmony Elite Remote Control system, you need to have the system connected to the internet via Wifi or physical connection to a PC via USB cable.

Logitech’s online remote control database contains over over 270,000 devices from 6000 product brands, ranging from TVs, Blu-ray Disc players, and home theater receivers, to multi-room audio, security, lighting, and other related products. However, if you can’t find your device, Logitech provides an additional method that may be able you to find it for you.

Here are the Harmony Elite setup system requirements:

Online setup:

PC: Windows 10, Windows 8, or Windows 7

Mac: OS X 10.7, or higher

Smartphone/Tablet setup and control:

iOS: iPhone® 4S or later, iPad® (3rd generation or later), iPad Mini™, iPod touch® (5th generation or later) device with iOS 8.0 or higher

Android™: Wi-Fi enabled smartphone with Android 4.2 or later Bluetooth® Smart technology-enabled iOS or Android device

Harmony App via App Store or Google Play.

More Info

For more specifics on the setup and operation of the Harmony Elite remote control system, visit theLogitech Harmony Elite Getting Started Page.

Official Product PageBuy From Amazon

UPDATE 06/08/2016 – Logitech Adds Harmony Pro For Installers

Building on the foundation of the Harmony Elite (including the same physical appearance, interface, and capabilities), Logitech has released a “Pro” version that is specifically targeted to the custom home theater install market, and is only available via authorized dealers. The Harmony Pro includes additional IR Blasters for control of to 15 devices (plus control of additional wireless Smart Devices), and also comes with double the warranty (2-years).

Official Product Page – Suggested Price: $399.99.