There’s a war brewing, and most gamers will never know it happened. While focus of the new generation of televisions is on the resolution jumping from 1080p to 4K, arguably the more noticeable feature is the inclusion of High-Dynamic Range (HDR) color on newer sets. The thing is, there’s not just one HDR color standard, and the Xbox One S has chosen sides.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with exactly what HDR color is, you’ve probably seen examples of it here and there – photos with ultra-vivid, wildly colorful imagery. That’s HDR for sure, but that’s not exactly how it shows up for you, the viewer, in reference to televisions.
HDR color, in short, brings more colors to your screen and more accurate color. Think of all the times you’ve been watching a movie or television show with a particularly dark scene, especially one with a lot of reds – the color banding you see in scenes like that is virtually gone in HDR.
There are two big formats, and Polygon has received word from Microsoft which it will support. There’s HDR10 and Dolby Vision. The former is an open standard that doesn’t require any special hardware. The latter standard is a bit better but requires better hardware (HDR video content works on either). Microsoft has chosen to stand by the open standard, HDR10.
What that means is that some TVs (mostly belonging to smaller manufacturers) won’t be able to take advantage of the Xbox One S’ HDR support when it releases later this summer. This is a trend that’s likely to continue, too, as Sony is one of the supporters of HDR10, making it unlikely they’d push Dolby Vision in the PlayStation 4 Neo, assuming it has HDR capability.
If you’re looking at making the jump to 4K this summer, you’ll want to take a look at which standard your chosen display supports and decide whether or not that’ll influence your decision.
The Xbox One S, including its 4K video playback and HDR support, releases in early August.
UPDATE: Added text to clarify story – Microsoft supports HDR10, but does not support Dolby Vision.