Dolby Vision: Everything you need to know about streaming in Dolby Vision

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The first thing that might come to mind when you think “Dolby” is audio. The Dolby brand is easily associated with the sound-test presentation before movies in theaters across the country. Dolby Laboratories produces technology beyond sound, though, licensing both audio (Dolby Atmos) and video processing (Dolby Vision) to various brands of hardware like Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, devices, and smart TVs. 

Dolby Vision is a high-dynamic-range (HDR) format. That means that Dolby Vision is a form of HDR rather than being its own separate format. And when stacked up next to HDR10, HLG, and HDR10+, Dolby Vision seems to shine the brightest. Keep reading as we explore Dolby Vision, HDR, and go into further detail on what devices and streaming services support it.  

What is Dolby Vision and why would I want it? 

Well, let’s first start off with why you’d want Dolby Vision HDR. What makes HDR so significant to your movie routine is how it generates brighter and more accurate colors with deeper shadows and sharper contrast. So, it creates a more immersive, cinematic experience as opposed to previous video formats. 

Dolby Vision is a dynamic format that enhances your video content frame-by-frame, which is superior to static formats like HDR10 and HLG. But Dolby Vision isn’t the only dynamic format — there’s also HDR10+ and Advanced HDR by Technicolor. The way in which Dolby Vision adjusts image quality frame-by-frame and scene-by-scene heightens colors and shadows to add even greater dimension. By contrast, the standard HDR10’s format simply takes the static metadata from a movie or show, and that’s that — no upscaling or enhancing your visual quality. So, it can provide a huge difference in performance. 

How do I watch Dolby Vision? 

It’s not always so clear what devices, game consoles, and smart TV have Dolby Vision. In fact, certain brands may even vary HDR formats by model. So, you’ll need to consult with your specific TV and 4K Blu-ray model’s specifications. This also includes Android and iOS mobile devices. 

There are a number of devices that support Dolby Vision, like all of Amazon Fire TV’s models and Apple TV 4K. But support is a bit more limited for gaming consoles. It’s more common for newer and more premium models to have Dolby Vision. For instance, models older than the 2019 Nvidia Shield TV don’t support Dolby Vision. In a similar form, Xbox One doesn’t support Dolby Vision, but Xbox One S and Xbox One X models are compatible. 

Are there any brands with Dolby Vision limitations? 

The largest brand that sticks out like a sore thumb is Samsung. But there’s a good reason why Samsung doesn’t support Dolby Vision (at least for now). Samsung was one of the backing forces behind HDR10+, a dynamic HDR format similar to Dolby Vision. So, it makes sense. 

There are also varying Roku TV models that don’t support Dolby Vision. We mentioned above how Apple TV 4K is compatible with Dolby Vision, but bear in mind that isn’t the case for Apple TV HD.  And when it comes to game consoles, none of Sony’s PlayStation models work with Dolby Vision. 

Watching movies and TV shows in Dolby Vision 

Streaming services carry Dolby Vision content on a title by title basis, similar to 4K. For example, Amazon Prime Video has a few titles available in Dolby Vision, from movies (Elysium) to original programming (Jack Ryan). Netflix offers more by way of Dolby Vision compatible titles like Altered Carbon, Daredevil, Santa Clarita Diet, and Stranger Things. Just remember, compatible streaming services must be used with a device that also supports Dolby Vision. 

Here’s a closer look at streaming services that offer Dolby Vision and what to expect. 

Streaming serviceBest forStarting monthly priceFree trial length
Amazon Prime VideoMovies$8.99/mo.7 days
CBS All AccessCBS Broadcasting$5.99/mo.7 days
NetflixOriginal Content$8.99/mo.N/A

More on Dolby Vision 

Here are a few more features to help give you a more 3-dimensional view of Dolby Vision and what it has to offer. 

Dolby Vision specs 

Compared to HDR10, Dolby Vision puts up some impressive numbers. Take picture brightness alone. HDR10’s maximum brightness of 1,000 is dwarfed under Dolby Vision’s much larger capacity. There’s also a huge boost in color accuracy. For example, where Dolby Vision supports 12 bits of which translates to 68 billion colors, HDR10 only has 10 bits with only a billion colors. That’s a pretty vast dropoff. 

Recommended internet speeds for Dolby Vision

Since Dolby Vision generates quite a bit of power to improve things like brightness and color, it’s going to require some extra internet speeds. You’ll need at a minimum 25 Mbps downstream for 4K Dolby Vision streaming. 

The final cut 

As a powerful HDR dynamic format, Dolby Vision considerably enhances the visual capabilities of movies, TV shows, and video games. That’s because Dolby Vision is much brighter than standard HDR10 and has much better color accuracy and darker shadows, which creates a more vivid depth of field. 

Even though there’s a growing number of devices and smart TVs that are compatible with Dolby Vision, you should still make sure to check for specific models. That’s because brands vary their Dolby Vision support from model to model. So, you might end up with HDR10 if you overlook the finer details. 

Fortunately, streaming devices like Amazon’s Fire TV products support every HDR format. But if you have a PlayStation, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. But there seems to be a growing number of streaming services that work with Dolby Vision, particularly branded original series. 

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