HDR is a new feature of 4K Ultra HD sets and it stands for high dynamic range, a reference to its ability to deliver more colors, more contrast levels and increased brightness. HDR is essentially an upgrade of the 4K, or Ultra HD, format (it is not applicable to 1080p HD sets). For this new feature, TV makers are christening new monikers for the sets to distinguish them from standard 4K Ultra HD TVs.
Ultra HD Premium is the name being adopted by UHD Alliance, an industry trade group. Dozens of companies are supporting this basic minimum specification for HDR compatibility, so you will see “Ultra HD Premium” on a growing number of sets this year.
Dolby Vision is a more demanding version of HDR, created and licensed by the folks that brought us Dolby noise reduction and surround sound. In theory, a Dolby Vision set has to meet a stricter set of criteria to display HDR content, but until we’ve tested a number of sets this year, how that translates to visible performance differences remains to be seen.
There continues to be some HDR confusion. Some TVs are Ultra HD Premium-compatible (like Samsung), others are Dolby-Vision-compatible (like Vizio and Sony) and some are compatible with both standards (like LG). Technicolor has brought its own standard to the market, called Technicolor Advanced HDR, which is expected to compete with Dolby Vision in the premium HDR space.
There’s not much HDR programming available, but it’s starting to look a bit better. There are a few dozen movies in the new 4K Blu-ray disc format, with a growing number of HDR shows available via streaming services, like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Some new 4K Blu-ray players also promise to be upgradable to handle the new HDR discs, but check before you buy. Finally, some cable and satellite are getting their own form of HDR, called Hybrid-Log Gamma (HLG), so you should start seeing HDR pop up now and then for movies and even live TV.
Bottom Line: Don’t choose a set just for its HDR support because the standard has not yet been settled. However, if you want the best, buy an HDR set that is compatible with Dolby Vision, as that format seems to be gaining momentum.