When color TV supplanted black-and-white televisions, the change was seismic. No pun intended, but the difference was day and night.
After that, the industry made several efforts to modernize color TV displays. Some gimmicks, like three-dimensional viewing, were also thrown in.
However, none has significantly impacted the space like HDR (high dynamic range) has. The leap may not be as giant as B&W-to-color, but there’s no debating the fact that HDR is one of the best things that has happened to TVs in recent years.
HDR has its variants, with the most high-end version being Dolby Vision. But not all HDR-compatible TVs support the specific format.
If you like Samsung TVs, your question obviously would be, “Do Samsung 4K TVs support Dolby Vision?” If they don’t, what alternative do they provide?
And what about Dolby Atmos? How compatible is Atmos sound with Samsung and non-Samsung TVs?
Read on for answers to all the questions above and more.
- What are Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos?
- Are There Samsung TVs with Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos?
- What Is HDR10+?
- Comparing Dolby Vision and HDR10+
- Brands that Support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
What are Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos?
HDR (high dynamic range) has different formats—right at the top is Dolby Vision. Other well-known HDR formats include HDR10 and HDR10+.
Dolby Vision allows for richer colors, increased brightness, and better visuals than SDR (standard dynamic range). It’s designed to unlock HDR technology’s full potential.
Moreover, televisions with “Dolby Vision IQ” may employ brightness sensors that auto-calibrate image settings based on a room’s light levels.
The object-based technology moves audio in a way that floats around and above the listener.
If you’re listening to a song, for instance, Atmos immerses you into the music in an entirely spatial manner, bringing to the fore every detail with unprecedented depth and clarity.
Also, with traditional surround sound, sounds made by discrete objects in a scene will be played via the side-positioned speakers—even if it’s the sound of a flying helicopter.
Dolby Atmos’ upward or ceiling-mounted speakers play the sound from over the listener’s head instead, providing a 360° audio listening experience.
Dolby Atmos Hardware Requirements and Implementations
For an accurate and complete Vision and Atmos experience, the content and all devices in a setup must support Dolby video and audio technologies.
If your TV supports Dolby Vision, but the content you play doesn’t, the Dolby Vision experience won’t be full-fledged.
Despite Atmos technology requiring an extra set of speakers, some TVs and music apps have the Atmos branding on them.
That’s licensing play manufacturers resort to because Atmos has increased brand recognition and is usually identified with great audio.
If a product has Atmos branding, it’s normal to assume the device or service has solid audio chops.
But then there’s also scaled-down Atmos, which is Atmos sound reproduction with a relatively limited set of speakers—for instance, just a couple of speakers or through a soundbar.
The effect is virtual, or the speakers may employ psychoacoustics to reproduce Atmos sound. The implementation varies with the device, which could be excellent or sub-par.
But even the well-executed Atmos sound will sound nowhere as good as an Atmos setup with dedicated speakers.
Are There Samsung TVs with Dolby Vision & Dolby Atmos?
No, there aren’t Samsung TVs that support Dolby Vision and Atmos.
Samsung TVs do HDR10 and HDR10+ instead—technologies that Samsung created in partnership with other companies.
Samsung, however, supports Dolby Atmos in its soundbars. The lack of Atmos, therefore, doesn’t feel like a significant omission.
Most TVs do not support Dolby Atmos since the audio feature relies on an additional surround sound speaker that you can only add through external speakers.
The lone pair of TV speakers cannot do full justice to Atmos, but scaled-down Atmos may do the trick with the limited resources, as mentioned above.
Why Is There No Dolby Vision on Samsung TVs?
Samsung TVs have no Dolby Vision because Vision entails licensing fees, which Samsung is not keen to foot.
If it had been a one-time or year licensing fee, Samsung might have budged. But because the payment is per unit, which Samsung sells millions of each year, the world’s biggest TV manufacturer chose not to put up with it.
The Dolby Vision fee will undoubtedly increase the TV’s cost, which would get passed on to the buyer, making Samsung TVs more expensive and less price-competitive.
Moreover, Samsung incorporates its high-end flavor of HDR, called HDR10+. Incorporating Dolby Vision, therefore, won’t just be costly but redundant and killing its own product.
What Is HDR10+?
HDR10+ is an open-source HDR format built to improve upon the standard HDR10 specifications. It appends dynamic metadata to HDR10’s source files encoded in static metadata.
The dynamic metadata lets HDR10+ adjust the brightness, resolution, and color depth of a particular scene in a movie or TV show.
It allows up to 10-bit color depth, a maximum of 8K resolution, and a brightness of up to 10,000 nits. HDR10+ contents are usually mastered with a 1,000 to 4,000 peak brightness.
Samsung came up with HDR10+ in 2017 in partnership with other companies such as Amazon, Warner Bros, and 20th Century Fox, amongst others.
Although open source, the standard entails a yearly administration fee of $2,500 that brands incorporating the HDR format into their devices must remit.
What Samsung TVs Support HDR10+?
Pretty much all Samsung UHD televisions manufactured since 2016 support HDR10+ natively.
The Samsung QN900B Neo QLED 8K Smart TV is an excellent HDR10+ TV option. It also supports Dolby Atmos. The QN95B is the 4K version. If you fancy OLED, look at the Samsung S95B 4K TV.
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The older models, however, may not have HDR10+ Adaptive, a technology that adapts to the ambient light of a given space and provides improved HDR performance.
Comparing Dolby Vision and HDR10+
Dolby Vision is the epitome of what HDR offers or the most premium HDR experience. HDR10+ is playing catch-up and doing an excellent job of it.
Dolby Vision is a 12-bit color system, representing 68.7 billion colors compared to HDR10+’s 1.07 billion. That’s a massive gap that HDR10+ hasn’t been able to close or narrow down.
Dolby Vision’s 12-bit color palette, or close to 68 billion colors, means more gradual color changes. There’s no color banding, a potential concern with HDR10+ and HDR10.
Having said that, HDR10 and HDR10+ are perfectly fine if you don’t compare them directly to Dolby Vision.
The difference between HDR10+ and Vision is noticeable only on high-end TVs capable of tapping into HDR capabilities and showcasing it to its full potential.
If not implemented well, Dolby Vision’s HDR colors could look a tad off.
Both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ employ dynamic metadata, letting the tone mapping take place for each scene or enhancing the visuals in each scene or frame.
HDR10+ layers dynamic metadata over HDR10’s static metadata to achieve the effect. Vision’s dynamic metadata implementation is more integrated, on the other hand.
Below are some of the key differences between Dolby Vision and HDR10+ compared for quick assimilation:
|Date of release||January 2014||April 2017|
|Color System||12-bit color||10-bit color|
|Color count||68.7 billion||1.07 billion|
|Peak brightness||10,000 nits||10,000 nits|
|AI technology||Dolby Vision IQ||HDR10+ Adaptive|
|Fee||Around $3 per unit||$2,500 annual|
The following are some basic requirements for Dolby Vision and HDR10+:
- 4K as the minimum TV resolution.
- A “wide color gamut” display capable of scoring a minimum of 90 percent on the DCI-P3 color space.
- The panels should have 10-bit color depths at least.
Technically, both video formats stack up pretty equal, except for Vision’s massive lead with color depth and the sheer number of colors it can reproduce.
Another area HDR10+ lacks is content availability. Dolby Vision content hasn’t inundated the market, but its presence is better overall.
Ultimately, the end experience depends on the TV or the overall quality of the panel that matters. If it’s substandard, HDR10+ or Dolby Vision content won’t make it look markedly better.
Brands that Support Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos
LG, Sony, TCL, etc., are some of the top brands that support Dolby Vision. Their TVs do not support HDR10+, at least not in the U.S.
The LG C1 is one of the best LG or non-LG TVs with Dolby Vision capabilities.
The TCL 6-Series is an excellent choice for buyers on a budget and who want the best Dolby Vision TV for the price.
The Sony A90J is a solid Dolby Vision TV option if you’re a Sony fan and are okay with splurging a bit.
Since Dolby Vision entails a fee (under $3 per TV), most brands opt out of it for their mid-range and entry-level 4K TVs. They may use HDR10 or HDR10+ instead.
And because Vision requires 12-bit HDR and most TVs run on 10-bit panels, the Dolby Vision experience is seldom wholesome on mid-range televisions. Often, Dolby Vision is downsized to support 10-bit TV displays.
Other TV brands can or usually support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision—for instance, Panasonic, Philips, and Hisense, to name a few.
TVs Usually Don’t Support Dolby Atmos Natively
As mentioned earlier, TVs usually do not support Atmos natively due to hardware constraints. However, some high-end TVs may have integrated Atmos.
And some TVs, despite their hardware limitations, could use Atmos branding to make their TVs appeal to people who care about TV audio.
The branding isn’t without meaning, however. At the least, the TVs will perform better with Atmos-supporting external speakers and content.
How Expansive Is the HDR10+ Content Library?
Although HDR10+ is open source and free, there’s surprisingly not much content supporting the format, at least not when compared to Dolby Vision.
However, things will improve, particularly with names like Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox backing HDR10+.
Amazon Prime Video has the maximum HDR10+ content among streaming services, and the catalog is only increasing.
YouTube, Paramount+, Rakuten, etc., are other names putting in the effort to ensure more HDR10+-compatible content.
Netflix is conspicuously not on board yet, but that could change in the future, particularly since it already supports HDR10.
Apple started supporting HDR10+ in October 2022 on its Apple TV+ app, with all of its HDR content modernized with HDR10+ metadata.
How Do Samsung TVs Play Dolby Vision Content?
If a Samsung TV has to play content encoded in the Dolby Vision format, it will stream it in HDR10, not HDR10+.
On the other hand, if you play Dolby Vision content on a TV that doesn’t even support HDR10, the content will play in SDR.
How is HDR10+ Different from HDR10?
HDR10+ incorporates dynamic metadata, whereas HDR10 does static metadata. That is the significant difference between the two, which is quite evident in real-world use.
If you are a Samsung fan and appreciate Dolby Vision’s visual splendor, you are unfortunately out of luck.
However, Samsung’s alternative to Dolby Vision is not too shabby. HDR10+ is particularly serviceable if you’re not highly particular about the quality of the visuals.
The tale with Dolby Atmos in Samsung TVs is quite similar to Vision, but this time it’s less to do with the licensing fee and more about hardware restrictions (the lack of an extra set of speakers).
Finding a Samsung TV that supports Dolby Atmos is not tricky, and that’s because Samsung doesn’t have proprietary technology like Atmos to incorporate into its TVs.
If you want Dolby Vision on your TV, look at other brands. The TVs mentioned above should serve your needs well.
But don’t just buy a Samsung TV hoping things will change in the future, or Samsung will roll out a software update and enable Vision on its sets.
If there was no HDR10+, that might have been possible.
Catherine Tramell has been covering technology as a freelance writer for over a decade. She has been writing for Pointer Clicker for over a year, further expanding her expertise as a tech columnist. Catherine likes spending time with her family and friends and her pastimes are reading books and news articles.