CES 2018 – HDR10+ Update
Warner Bros. has announced that it is joining the HDR 10+ Alliance, together with the existing members: Samsung, Panasonic, 20th Century Fox, and Amazon. It will be interesting to see if Disney, who now owns 20th Century Fox, will also ‘join the party’. This new open standard uses dynamic video metadata, in the video stream, to control the brightness and chrominance of each scene or frame. It is a direct competitor to Dolby Vision. Content producers only need pay a small annual fee in order to produce media feeds encoded in HDR 10+, unlike Dolby Vision that requires a royalty fee for every use,
Amazon has already started streaming HDR10+ encoded films in late December 2017.
Also noted was that Scenarist, producer of the Hollywood-standard Ultra HD Blu-ray authoring systems, is adding HDR 10+ to the workflow of its Scenarist UHD authoring system. It was demonstrated at the Blu-ray Disc Association press suite located in the Westgate Hotel Suite 2993 at CES2018 on January 9– 10 in Las Vegas.
HDR 10+ Enabled products
Panasonic unveiled their new flagship 4K player, the DP-UB820, which supports both Dolby Vision and HDR10+, which is also Ultra HD Premium certified.
The DP-UB820 includes HDR to SDR conversion for those with 4K TVs that don’t support HDR, and includes an HDR Optimizer that improves the appearance of HDR on displays that cannot handle the HDR gamma (EOTF). It also comes with 7.1 channel analog out, twin HDMI outputs, and support for most high resolution audio formats including DSD, ALAC, FLAC, WAV, and AIFF, no support for HQA unfortunately. To top off the players features it can sync with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, and it offers streaming support for Amazon, Netflix and YouTube.
In addition, Panasonic also unveiled two new 4K OLED displays with HDR10+ support, the FZ800 and FZ950.
Other High Tech Display Developments
Samsung showed two of its latest display developments, the MicroLED “Wall” and the 8K Q9S displays. The Wall is a large bezel-free display technology built from modules that feature micrometer-scale LEDs that can be configured into huge displays, like the 146″ diagonal 4K Wall display shown on their stand. They are also showing the new Q9S, which is an 85-inch 8K display, pity that there is no 8K material in the foreseeable future!
Blu-ray Disc Association – Update – 1/12/2018
With the continued growth of HDR technologies, the Blue-ray Disc Association (BDA) has released a new spec (V3.2) to accommodate the HDR developments of Dolby Vision, HDR10+ and Philips/Technicolor’s SL-HDR2. Note that supporting any of these HDR technologies is optional for both hardware manufactures and media producers.
In an attempt not to frighten and confuse users about this growing standard, and in order to educate consumers about HDR, which is one of the key benefits of UHD, not 4K. The BDA has created a brochure, website and educational videos, that can be used by consumers, manufacturers and retailers alike.
Although there is a growing number of streaming services and devices that support 4K HDR, including Amazon Video, Netflix, GooglePlay, Vudu, FandangoNow and iTunes. With 4K streaming devices including Roku 4, Amazon Fire, NVIDIA Shield, Chromecast Ultra and Apple TV. Blu-ray discs are still the best and most convenient way to experience HDR. Why? streaming 4K UHD with high dynamic range (HDR), requires a consistent minimum download speed of typically 25 megabits per second. Currently in the U.S., only about 20% of users connections can support such a quality of service, and this ignores drops in speed due to multiple users and your Internet Service Providers (ISP) user loading.
So, is there to be a HDR format war with HDR10 (the compulsory base default level), HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Philips/Technicolor HDR standards? Hopefully not, and they will all happily co-exist with vendors providing firmware and/or hardware upgrades to support all these standards. Remember the concerns over DTS and and Dolby sound formats? Well, that was eventually resolved to give the consumer more choices. The best thing a consumer can do is to find displays, players and receivers that can support all these new formats or at least those you prefer to use.
It will be very interesting to see how much of the existing 4K hardware can be upgraded via just firmware updates to support Dolby Vision and/or HDR 10+.
Time to go buy that next 4K UHD Blu-ray disc and enjoy.
See more on 4K UHD video standards here.