Dolby Vision is Dolby's very own end to end HDR solution for movies and TV. We've been able to see it in action on numerous occasions and have always been blown away by the image quality it serves up.
- What is Dolby Vision?: Dolby's very own HDR TV tech explained
- What is HDR, what TVs support HDR, and what HDR content can I watch?
The current drawback of the technology is that it requires specific hardware inside TVs, games consoles and other AV kit for it to work. But that could all be set to change as Dolby has announced it's now available as a complete software update for current equipment.
While it doesn't mean you can get an update for your four year old HD TV to support the technology, it does mean that if you have a TV, Ultra HD Blu ray player, set top box or any other AV device with enough processing power, you could theoretically update it.
Forbes writer John Archer quotes Dolby as saying “There are implementations that can run Dolby Vision in software, certainly in the console space but also in the TV SoC space."
"Specifics vary on a case-by-case basis depending on the hardware capability of the silicon in question, but we have development kits for various types of implementations, depending on the application: full hardware, hybrid of software and hardware or [and this is the crucial bit] full software.”
Two such products that have been confirmed by Dolby to be upgradeable include the Sony ZD9 4K HDR TV and the Oppo UDP-203 Ultra HD Blu-ray player. The Sony TV will get the software update later this year while Oppo should release an update next month. Google
The real benefit of Dolby Vision is that it doesn't need the new HDMI 2.0 standard to work. 'Regular' HDR10 signals do need HDMI 2.0, a standard that only the latest kit has. Because Dolby Vision can operate with HDMI 1.4, its potential applications are much greater, which is very good news.
However, Archer points out there are three main obstacles in the way, first and foremost being cost. Manufacturers still need to pay Dolby a license fee to use the software, and some manufacturers may not actually want to add Dolby Vision to their product lineups.
Samsung and Panasonic for example are quite happy using the much wider-used HDR10 standard and applying their own picture processing know how over the top.
And as we mentioned earlier, if you want to update your current kit, it will need to have enough processing power. Fortunately, the majority of kit being produced now will have enough, meaning Dolby Vision could be coming to a living room near you very soon.