YouTube now supports HDR (high dynamic range) content.
With HDR-compatible televisions bursting onto the market, and several media companies such as Netflix and Amazon offering HDR content, many consumers are likely wondering what's going on with Google-owned YouTube and how they can start watching funny cat clips in HDR. Here's everything you need to know about YouTube's HDR plans.
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YouTube HDR: When will HDR be available on YouTube?
At CES 2016 in January, YouTube said it planned to support the latest innovation in video: HDR. Robery Kyncl, the company's chief business officer, quietly revealed the news during on-stage discussion about 360-degree video experiences, which YouTube also supports. It took YouTube nine months before it rolled out HDR for all. In November 2016, YouTube confirmed it finally supports HDR.
These videos are said have higher contrast, revealing precise, detailed shadows, and stunning highlights with great clarity. Simply put, HDR unlocks "the most spectacular image quality we've ever streamed", Google has bragged. Anyway, as of right now, you can officially watch YouTube videos in HDR on compatible devices, including select TVs, consoles, media players, and mobile devices.
YouTube HDR: What does HDR mean?
As we mentioned already, HDR stands for high dynamic range. The technology basically improves video image quality by expanding contrast ratio and colour palette. The result is a more realistic and natural image with richer colours, brighter whites, deeper blacks, and plenty of detail for dark, shadowy scenes. The format is informally considered the next step beyond HD TV.
There's a lot happening in HDR television right now, from streaming services, to gaming, to inclusion on the latest Ultra HD Blu-ray discs as well, so you'll have heard a lot about it. Pocket-lint has an in-depth guide that details everything you need to know about HDR and the different standards available, including their technical specs.
YouTube HDR: What types of HDR content can you watch?
You can watch HDR content from YouTube creators who made their own HDR videos using HDR-capable cameras (just like you can do now with 4K videos and 360-degree videos from YouTube creators), and you may be able to rent HDR movies from YouTube, although the company has not confirmed whether this type of offering will be included with HDR support.
From a YouTube point of view, this is going to be very much about the creators and the type of content that they choose to create, but HDR is especially useful for things like sunsets and and high colour scenes.
YouTube HDR: Who can upload HDR videos to YouTube?
Any creator can upload HDR videos to YouTube. To learn more about uploading HDR videos, go to Google's support page. Google said it's been working with the "DaVinci Resolve team" to make uploading HDR just as simple as SDR videos.
YouTube HDR: How do you find HDR videos on YouTube?
Google said viewers can confirm HDR playback when a video is played if they see an "HDR" badge along with player controls. For the time being, Google is promoting this playlist of HDR videos made by YouTube creators who worked with Google ahead of time.
YouTube HDR: What do you need to watch HDR on YouTube?
You can only watch YouTube in HDR on a HDR-compatible display.
Vizio, Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, LG, TCL, Hisense, and every other TV manufacturer you can think of sell HDR TV sets. Google has confirmed that Samsung's 2016 SUHD and UHD televisions are among the first to get YouTube HDR support. So, if you own one of Samsung's TVs, just fire up the YouTube app and find an HDR video to play.
Consoles and media players
If you are using Chromecast Ultra, you can find a YouTube video on your phone and cast it - viewing in HDR and 4K, if it's supported in the video. But you'll need an update to the YouTube player on an HDR-compatible device. If you're using a mobile device that doesn't support HDR, you will still see the YouTube video, but it will be a standard dynamic range (SDR) video.
First noticed by users on Reddit, the latest version of the YouTube app has added HDR support for Samsung's 2017 flagship phones. Google told Engadget that the Pixel, LG V30, Sony Xperia XZ Premium have received the update as well. So, after installing the latest version of the YouTube app, search for a video with HDR capabilities. Tap the menu button once it starts playing.
Then, tap quality and select your preferred HDR playback setting. You may need to adjust your display settings too.