SHCC WYSIWYG Article from June 2017

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This article was written by Don VanSyckel, the club president, as a part of "The President's Pen".  This article appeared in the June 2017 WYSIWYG newsletter.

TV Craziness HD, UHD, and HDR

by Don VanSyckel

While not computers and not exactly monitors, TVs have gone a little crazy. Flat screens, LED and plasma, High Definition (HD), curved screens, Ultra High Definition (UHD), and now High Dynamic Range (HDR). Then add to this quickly changing technical specifications every manufacturer lists there products specifications slightly differently making comparison tedious.

TVs are doing what I've seen computers do and certain other electronics as well. You see a product you decide you want to get but it's ridiculously expensive so you bide your time waiting for the price to fall to a reasonably amount. But when the price finally gets to your price range the new round of the product has been released and now you want that, so you start the wait for the price to drop all over again.

The prices of HD TVs have fallen to a reasonably range but why get HD when UHD is just that much better. I had almost made up my mind to get UHD and HDR became available. What is HDR and why is it better?

The TV industry uses a unit of measure called a "nit" when evaluating TV displays. A nit is approximately the amount of light from one candle. Contrast is the ratio of nits at peak brightness to the nits of black level. HDR TVs are not as bright as standard HD and UHD TVs but the nits for the black level are so much lower, the contrast ratio is better, bigger, giving you a better more true to life picture. HDR TVs can also produce more colors enabling the picture to have better color accuracy.

Then there's the matter of content, whether it's HD, UHD, or HDR. Obviously because of length of time available, HD has the most available and HDR has the least available. This means that if you spring for an HDR TV and watch HD content you're getting roughly what you would see on an HD TV viewing the same content. Over time more content will be available for HDR and less for HD and UHD.

The above is a general overview. Many manufacturers use their own "words" to label the technology of their TVs and their specifications. It seems the only standard is that everyone uses different terms. If shopping for a new TV consider viewing every candidate with the same content to make it a closer comparison.

The last thought is where does it end? The human eye can only "see" so much. At what point does a better picture not really appear any better to the eye? Sort of like DVDs versus Blu-Ray. Many people thought Blu-Ray would kill DVDs. It didn't happen, the "better" Blu-Ray technology didn't wipe out the "good enough" DVD technology. In fact there appears to be more DVDs for sale than Blu-Ray disks at the stores I frequent.

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