What is HDR?


Hey Speccers! In this blog, we’re diving into the vibrant world of HDR – that’s High Dynamic Range if you’re new to the acronym party. If you’ve been shopping for a new TV or monitor, you’ve likely seen HDR splashed across the marketing materials. But what exactly is HDR, and how does it affect your binge-watching and gaming sessions? Let’s break it down in a way that’ll have you sounding like a tech guru at your next Netflix night or gaming marathon.


What is HDR?

In a nutshell, HDR (High Dynamic Range) refers to technology that improves the contrast and colour range of the display. Think of it as a supercharged version of your TV or monitor’s visual capabilities. While traditional displays (SDR - Standard Dynamic Range) have a limited range of brightness and colours, HDR expands this range, making the bright parts of the image brighter, the dark parts darker, and everything in between richer and more vibrant.


Different Types of HDR

So, you’re sold on the idea of HDR, but then you see terms like HDR10, Dolby Vision, and HLG. What do they mean? Let’s break down the main types you’ll encounter:

HDR10: The most common and widely adopted form of HDR. It’s open standard and supported by most HDR-capable devices. HDR10 offers a significant improvement over SDR with 10-bit colour depth and up to 1,000 nits of peak brightness.

Dolby Vision: This is like HDR10 on steroids. Dolby Vision supports 12-bit colour depth and can go up to 4,000 nits of peak brightness, though most current TVs max out around 1,000 nits. Dolby Vision also uses dynamic metadata, adjusting the HDR effect scene by scene for a more precise picture.

HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma): Developed by BBC and NHK, HLG is mainly used for broadcasting. It’s backward compatible with SDR, meaning the same broadcast can be viewed in HDR on a compatible TV and in SDR on older models.

HDR10+: Think of HDR10+ as an upgrade to HDR10. Like Dolby Vision, it uses dynamic metadata to enhance the viewing experience on a scene-by-scene basis. It’s not as widely adopted as HDR10 or Dolby Vision, but it’s gaining traction.


How HDR Affects Watching TV and Movies

Imagine watching your favourite movie, and suddenly, it feels like you’re looking through a window into another world. That’s HDR at work. With HDR, colours pop, details in the shadows are clearer, and bright scenes don’t look washed out. For instance, in a dark scene, you’ll be able to see the nuanced textures and details that would otherwise be lost in the shadows with SDR. Explosions, sunsets, and sci-fi effects look more realistic and awe-inspiring.

HDR also means that directors and cinematographers can create more dynamic visuals. They can play with light and shadow in ways that weren’t possible before, knowing that the technology can reproduce their vision accurately. So, when you’re watching an HDR movie, you’re seeing it as close as possible to how it was intended by its creators.


What about Gaming

Gamers, rejoice! HDR is not just a boon for movie buffs. In the gaming world, HDR makes your virtual adventures even more immersive. Imagine the sun setting in your favourite open-world game, casting a warm, golden hue over everything, or the neon lights of a futuristic city dazzling with life. That’s the magic of HDR.

With HDR, game developers can create more realistic and visually stunning environments. Shadows and highlights become more pronounced, adding depth and realism. Colours are more vibrant, making everything from lush forests to alien landscapes feel more alive. HDR can even improve gameplay by making it easier to spot enemies hiding in dark corners or to appreciate the fine details of your game world.


Choosing the Right HDR Display

So, you’re ready to jump into the HDR experience, but which TV or monitor should you pick? Here are a few tips:

  • Check the Brightness: Aim for a display with at least 500 nits of brightness to really benefit from HDR.
  • Look for the Right HDR Type: Make sure your display supports HDR10 at a minimum. If you can afford it, go for Dolby Vision or HDR10+ for the best experience.
  • Size and Resolution: Bigger is generally better for HDR. A 4K resolution is ideal, as it complements the enhanced colour and contrast of HDR.
  • Gaming Features: If you’re a gamer, look for features like low input lag and high refresh rates in addition to HDR support.



HDR is a game-changer in the world of visual media. Whether you’re watching the latest blockbuster or diving into an epic gaming session, HDR enhances the experience by making everything look more vivid and lifelike. By understanding the different types of HDR and how they impact your viewing and gaming, you can make an informed decision on the best display for your needs.

So, next time you’re shopping for a new TV or monitor, don’t just settle for any old screen. Go for one with HDR, and prepare to be blown away by the vibrant, dynamic world that awaits. Happy watching and gaming!

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