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HDR vs Non HDR TV

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Updated April 12, 2022

If you are trying to build the ultimate entertainment setup, you may wonder about the comparisons between HDR vs non-HDR TVs. Some of the best TVs, after all, are labeled as offering HDR features. So what is HDR, why would you want it, and how does it compare to televisions without these functions? Keep reading to find out.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • HDR stands for high dynamic range and refers to a wider spectrum of colors, black levels, and contrast options via dynamic metadata, such as Dolby Vision.
  • HDR does not refer to resolution, so you could have an HDR TV with a low resolution and a non-HDR TV with a higher resolution.
  • In other words, a cheap HDR TV is not better than a high-quality non-HDR TV, though most modern units boast the feature.

Differences Between HDR and Non-HDR Televisions

HDR stands for high dynamic range and typically allows televisions to offer a broader range of colors and contrast options for content that has been given the HDR optimization treatment. Non-HDR televisions lack this upscaled range of colors, but that doesn’t mean they should be relegated to the trash heap. There are a whole bunch of other metrics that go into a decent picture quality than just color and contrast, such as when you are comparing a TV vs a monitor for gaming.

Insider Tip

Make sure to check other stats before buying a TV besides HDR support, including the color gamut.

Resolution

Just because a TV supports HDR, doesn’t necessarily mean it has increased resolution over the competition. There are 1080p televisions that support HDR and there are 4K TVs that do not. As a reminder, HDR refers to only brightness and colors and all HDR TVs are not equal, as peak brightness, contrast ratio, and color gamut all determine just how well your TV can even display HDR content. In other words, the differences here are a wash like when you are comparing high vs low-pile microfiber for a TV. A cheap HDR TV will have a worse picture quality than an expensive non-HDR TV. Read all of the stats carefully before making a purchase.

Smart Features

Nearly every modern TV being manufactured today features HDR support, meaning that if you get a smart TV with access to a streaming service or two, it is likely you’ll have an HDR TV. With that said, HDR is only as good as the content itself. If the content, TV or film, has not been HDR-optimized, it’ll play in SDR (standard dynamic range) no matter how many bells and whistles your TV boasts.

Audio

Terms like HDR and SDR refer to video, and not audio. In other words, no matter the kind of television you have, the audio quality will not be dictated by the prevalence, or lack thereof, of HDR. Besides, most TVs benefit from being plugged into a sound system, such as a soundbar, to increase the audio quality signal.

F.A.Q.S

Which factors affect HDR?

All kinds of factors impact the efficacy of HDR, including what type (Dolby Vision and Dolby Vision IQ) and the wide color gamut on offer, the dynamic metadata available, and more.


Is HDR a good investment for the future?

Yeah. Most modern TVs support HDR, as do an expensive ultra HD Blu-Ray player and other modern appliances.


What do you need for HDR?

You just need an HDR-compliant TV and a content creator that makes HDR-enabled content with a wider range of colors and contrast options.



STAT: On a typical SDR display, for instance, images will have a dynamic range of about 6 stops. Conversely, HDR content is able to almost triple that dynamic range, with an average approximate total of 17.6 stops. (source)