How we tested HDR

High Dynamic Range (HDR) TVs.
High Dynamic Range (HDR) TVs.PHOTO: ST FILE

While it seems natural to test the HDR TV sets with the HDR titles from Netflix, the service's adaptive streaming nature makes it unreliable for testing.

Instead, I used the Panasonic DMP-UB900 Ultra HD Blu-ray player to play two Ultra HD Blu-ray movies - The Revenant and Mad Max: Fury Road - in order to test the TV set's HDR performance.

All Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, also known as 4K Blu-ray, support HDR.

The Panasonic Blu-ray player, which has yet to get a price and launch date in Singapore, is connected to the HDMI port of the HDR TV.

Most HDR TV sets do not have HDR enabled by default for their HDMI ports. This option is usually found in the Advanced Settings.

It is known variously as HDMI UHD Colour (Samsung), HDMI Ultra Deep Colour (LG) and HDMI Enhanced Mode (Sony). A restart is required to enable the feature.

I hooked up a second Blu-ray player to a different HDMI port of the TV set to play back the standard Blu-ray version of the movie.

By switching between the two HDMI inputs while the movie is being played by the two Blu-ray players, I can compare the visuals between the non-HDR and the HDR versions.

All the TV sets I tested have a special HDR mode that kicks in when an HDR video is being played.

THE HDR DIFFERENCE

The first thing you will probably notice in HDR movies is that the subtitles are searingly bright.

Generally, images look to have more depth - they are darker for night scenes and more lively in bright daylight. Movies feel more atmospheric.

The Revenant, with its numerous shots of the wilderness, looks fantastic with HDR. In comparison, the standard Blu-ray version looks more washed out and grey.

But not all movies benefit from HDR's wider range of colours. The explosions in Mad Max: Fury Road look garish in HDR.

Vincent Chang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2016, with the headline 'How we tested HDR'. Print Edition | Subscribe