Another victory was achieved in (now mostly silent, actually) battles in HDR format – Amazon Prime Video began to support Dolby Vision HDR. Previously, Prime Video used the competitive HDR10 + format, while Dolby Vision is used by … basically every other streaming service, including Netflix and Disney Plus.
However, there are two big hooks here. For one thing, it only seems to be on in three (3) shows: The Rings of Power, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan, and The Wheel of Time.
Secondly, Dolby Vision only works on televisions so far – at the moment I don’t see it as an option on my iPhone 13 Pro which if supports Dolby Vision.
I confirmed it works on TVs by running Prime Video for playback through my Philips OLED806 OLED TV that supports Dolby Vision, and it certainly showed up as an option when selecting The Rings of Power.
I double-checked it was Actually works – my TV source detail screen told me it definitely was picking up Dolby Vision signal so everything seems fine.
I turned to Amazon Prime Video to ask if the company would extend Dolby Vision support to more shows, and if it would roll it out to phones as well, and update this article if I get a reply.
Why does Dolby Vision handle such a big cause?
There are three types of HDR used in movie streaming apps: HDR10, HDR10 +, and Dolby Vision.
HDR10 is the most basic version – this is what can be called “standard” HDR. It adds a wider color gamut and dynamic range than SDR content, but needs to “tone-map” the light and dark levels in a single setting for the entire movie, so if the movie has both very bright and very dark scenes, they can lose detail in the darkest areas and brightest lights.
HDR10 + is, as you’d expect, a better version of HDR10. It contains “dynamic metadata” which means that “tone mapping” is done on a per-scene basis, so dark scenes tell the TV to react in a completely different way to bright scenes. This brings back nuances and details when things become extremely light and dark.
Dolby Vision does the same as HDR10 + but is more widely supported in content (and has a few other gimmicks like 12-bit color support, but no TV can display it yet, so it’s not such a real benefit).
All HDR TVs support HDR10, but many TVs only support Dolby Vision or HDR10 + – most brands support Dolby, but Samsung is a huge brand that sticks to HDR10 +. If your TV doesn’t support one of the two more advanced formats, the video is simply displayed in HDR10, so you can still enjoy the benefits of HDR.
Amazon Prime Video was the only major streaming service to use HDR10 +, and now it has taken its first steps towards Dolby Vision support, which largely prompts Dolby Vision to be the de facto winner of the HDR fight.
So the next question is, will Samsung follow suit and give up its Dolby Vision support boycott – will Samsung’s best 2023 TVs bring the feature we asked for the most? The brand finally added Dolby Atmos support to its TVs in 2022, so Dolby ice seems to be melting there. We’ll probably find out at CES 2023.