Originally Posted by nathanddrews
It's pretty simple to grasp if you apply some math. The only caveats come down to loose technical definitions and marketing hype. Hopefully I can avoid both:
In additive RGB color (combining primary color channels to create white light), red, green, and blue channels are used to create all other colors rendered by each and every pixel on the screen. Bits are represented as 1s and 0s and with 8 bits you can have up to 256 (2^8) variations ("00000000", "01010101", "11111111", etc.). 3 additive primary color channels, 8 bits per additive primary color channel, 24 total bits to be expressed per pixel (24bpp). Thus, each pixel can display up to 16.7 million (2^24) color variations. This is the conventional 24-bit "true color" environment.Deep Color
simply moves beyond the 8-bit color channel to include 10-bit, 12-bit, and 16-bit color channels. The move to 10-bit color channels would allow for 1024 (2^10) variations per additive primary color channel, resulting in 30bpp, which amounts to just over 1 billion (2^30) color variations. 12-bit and 16-bit color channels would result in 36bpp and 48bpp, respectively. Allowing for 68 billion and 281 trillion colors, respectively. You can see how adding just 2 extra bits per color channel allows for insane gains in color reproduction.
The problem right now is that the industry plays things really fast and loose with the terminology. Deep Color stickers are slapped onto everything. No Blu-ray comes with anything more than 8-bit color channels. Most HDTVs, monitors, projectors, phones, and laptop screens are 6-bit or 8-bit displays. 10-bit displays are available, but carry a premium.
*When you select 32-bit color on your computer, it is a misnomer. This is actually still 24bpp color, but adds another 8-bit "alpha" channel for opacity or translucency flags to be composite processing. It doesn't add more colors. These alpha channels can be added to any color space, allowing up to 64bpp processing when applied to a 16-bit/channel 48bpp color scheme. However, if you have a 10-bit display and the necessary hardware on your computer, then you can enable 10-bit (30bpp) color for games or graphic design, etc.