Q: I have a Sony X930D LCD TV that decodes HDR10. If I buy an UHD Blu-ray player that decodes Dolby Vision high dynamic range, will my TV display Dolby Vision HDR?
– Paul Stubbs
A: Sadly, no. Both the player and display must implement Dolby Vision in order to see it in its full glory. Here’s how it works: A DV-encoded UHD Blu-ray disc contains two layers of video data. The base layer is the content encoded in HDR10. The enhancement layer contains the extra data to complete the Dolby Vision dataset, including all the extra metadata.
The player decodes both layers and combines them into a 12-bit datastream that DV-enabled displays can understand and render. The process of combining the two layers is performed by a module called the Dolby Vision Composer. When the datastream reaches the display, a module called the Dolby Vision Display Manager maps it to the specific capabilities of the display—bit depth (all consumer TVs are 10-bit at this point), peak brightness, color volume, and so on.
The player knows whether or not the display is DV-capable by virtue of the display’s EDID (Extended Display Identification Data) code, which informs the player about the display’s capabilities. If it’s not DV-capable, the player sends only the HDR10 base layer. If the TV is SDR-only, the player performs an HDR10-to-SDR conversion, but this is not a perfect process. In fact, people with SDR TVs should stick with Blu-rays for the best SDR performance. However, this doesn’t matter for you, since your Sony X930D can understand and render HDR10.
The Oppo UDP-203 and UDP-205, LG UP970, and Philips BDP7502 UHD Blu-ray players will offer Dolby Vision after a firmware update. All three will support UHD Blu-ray discs with DV content. In terms of streaming, the Oppo has no streaming apps, while the LG will have only two apps—Netflix and YouTube—and only Netflix will stream Dolby Vision. The Philips will be able to stream DV content from Netflix and Vudu.
Your Sony X930D cannot be firmware-upgraded to make the TV compatible with Dolby Vision. In Sony TVs, that requires Sony’s latest video processor, the X1 Extreme, which the X930D does not have. The only Sony TVs that have the X1 Extreme processor are the Z9D, X930E, X940E, and A1E OLED, and all of them can—and supposedly will—be firmware-upgraded to DV compatibility.
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