Talking tech since 2003

A post on the Verge offers up glowing reviews of one of the new technologies being shown to reporters and attendees at CES in Las Vegas this week: Dolby Vision, a new, ultra-detailed innovation in television display. According to the post, Dolby Vision tech creates displays that offer eye-popping colors and details, which could be the next big push in the television set marketplace.

The post explains that the current crop of television sets average somewhere between 400 and 500 nits—“nits” being the unit of measurement for brightness. But because the human eye is capable of seeing imagery with far, far higher brightness levels, TVs have yet to really approach the hyper-realism that’s long been the goal of those in the business of selling us boob tubes.

A side-by-side comparison of traditional HDTV imagery and that of Dolby Vision.
A side-by-side comparison of traditional HDTV imagery and that of Dolby Vision.

Making use of “a 1080p, liquid-cooled experimental display with a backlight made up of 18,000 RGB LEDs,” the company has been showing off the possibilities of Dolby Vision, which has a peak brightness of 4,000 nits—ten times the brightness capability enjoyed by today’s average TV set.

The post says that Dolby has teamed up with hardware manufacturers—so far Sharp, TCL, and Vizio—to start integrating Dolby Vision into future TV models. Meanwhile, the company has also worked out deals with Netflix, Amazon, Vudu, and Xbox Video in order to pipe content capable of achieving Dolby Vision-level quality to sets made by the aforementioned OEMs.

Overall, the post offers an enthusiastic—if possibly a bit hyperbolic—account of the magic that’s capable with Dolby Vision. And I don’t doubt that it looks great when viewed in optimal conditions. But I also remember years ago when a friend of mine got an HDTV, but had it hooked up to a regular cable box that had no HD programming. He was convinced that it looked great, even though anyone who hadn’t shelled out a fortune for the television would quickly realize that the picture looked like garbage, stretching out standard-def imagery. It was impossible to ignore the SD signal’s flaws, and by the time HD content started coming through content providers, I’m sure that the TV was already out of date in terms of its visual potential.

All of this is to say that Dolby Vision may be the next big thing, and, indeed, the post says that it’ll be coming to market in some TVs during the 2014 holiday season. But it’ll still probably be a long, long while before buying a Dolby Vision-equipped TV looks like a good idea.

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