Xbox One is getting Dolby Vision HDR support, but only via streaming

Xbox Insiders will shortly be able to start beta testing Dolby Vision support for compatible HDR content on the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. At the moment the functionality is limited to streaming via Netflix, but it should provide a subtle boost to HDR viewing. 

Unfortunately the Xbox Wire post that made the announcement made no mention of the functionality coming to Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, which is a shame when the consoles are two of the most affordable ways to play the new format around.

Instead it will be a streaming-only technology, which is pretty handy when Netflix already has plenty of Dolby Vision content available to stream.

Why Dolby Vision?

The update means that the consoles now support both HDR10 and Dolby Vision HDR standards. Dolby Vision is best thought of as an upgraded form of HDR compared to HDR10. The big addition is dynamic metadata, which allows content to adjust peak and minimum brightness on a scene-by-scene basis.

This means that content which features very bright scenes and very dark scenes will be optimised for both rather than having to find an average that might omit brighter details in bright scenes and vice versa in dark scenes.

It sounds complicated, but when you look at content side by side it offers a subtle improvement.

HDR10+ is the only other standard that supports dynamic metadata of this kind, but the number of devices that supports it is currently even smaller.

The other big addition Dolby Vision brings to the table over HDR10 is support for 12-bit colour depth. However, for the time being at least, this isn’t going to lead to any perceptible difference. There just aren’t any TVs out there at the moment that feature 12-bit panels.

One day, when TVs are equipped with 12-bit panels that can get bright enough it might be a feature worth getting excited about, but for now it’s just extra data that’s ignored by the TV when it’s displaying the video.

Microsoft has been killing it with its console updates recently. Back in March it rolled out an update that brought Freesync variable refresh rate support to its hardware, and it was also quick to roll out fixes for Ultra HD Blu-ray problems that the console was experiencing at launch.

It’s a shame that there’s no support for the standard for fans of physical media, but we’ve got our fingers crossed that this might be a plan for further down the line.

Do you think Dolby Vision offers a noticable upgrade over HDR10? Let us know @TrustedReviews.