Towards the end of 2020, Samsung announced that for 2021 its new TVs – which were launched a few days later at CES 2021 – would include a technology called HDR 10 + Adaptive. If it sounds familiar, it’s probably built on top of the HDR 10+, the high-speed range (HDR) format that Samsung has been championing for several years. But there are more HDR 10+ adaptations than the HDR 10, so let’s dig into all the details.
First, a quick primer of HDR as a technology. Although there are a number of competitive HDR formats – some that are creating increasing confusion for buyers – they all fight for the same goal, which makes the film look better with increased brightness, increased color, and image accuracy. It can look stunning.
Image quality, however, can be an ongoing goal. The quality of your TV plays an integral role as the quality of the content you watch, and – if you stream your video – even the quality of your internet connection can affect what you watch. But there is one more thing that most people ignore: the condition of lighting the house
It may seem obvious that a bright room affects your movies as a dark room (movie theaters must have a reason to turn on the lights) and yet a lot of people don’t change the settings on their TVs and the lights in their rooms change in a day. The HDR 10+ adapts to compensate for that trend by automatically calibrating your TV image in response to changing conditions in your home.
It does this by taking advantage of the light sensors made in the TV. As the room light changes, the sensor returns this information to the TV’s image processor, which changes the screen brightness based on the scene.
Critically, HDR uses the dynamic metadata of 10+ elements as its criteria to make these adjustments intelligently. Samsung claims to have better quality results without any loss of detail or contrast.
The HDR10 + Adaptive is effectively the same concept as Dolby Labs’ Dolby Vision IQ, which performs house light-based adjustments in a similar way to the Dolby Vision component. Samsung never licenses Dolby Vision or Dolby Vision IQ technology, so the HDR 10+ adaptive was a logical move for the company.
The HDR10 + adaptive only works when you have a suitable computer that displays HDR10 + content. In the past, HDR 10+ content was very difficult to come by but this is changing as more studios and streaming services are adopted. Amazon Prime Video is a major supporter of HDR10 + and is available in every HDR movie or show HDR10 + on the streaming service. It is also gaining steam in UHD Blu-ray headlines like Parasite Release from Universal Picture Home Entertainment.
For now, the HDR10 + adaptive is only available on Samsung’s new QLD TVs, but Panasonic has also promised to support the format. Due to Panasonic’s small TV footprint in the United States, our options may be limited to Samsung for the foreseeable future.