Incidentally, our HDR (high dynamic range) demo on the Samsung 65JS9500 involved serving a few brief clips of Life of Pi (specially remastered by 20th Century Fox) from a USB stick – there’s just no consumer-friendly HDR content in the wild at this time of writing, even though the forthcoming Ultra HD Blu-ray format has embraced HDR into its standard.
Nonetheless, we’re incredibly excited by what we saw on the UE65JS9500, and would go so far as to say that HDR offers the single most appreciable leap in picture quality among various UHD parameters, more so than 4K resolution or wider colour space. After all, didn’t the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) rank contrast ratio/ dynamic range as the most important factor of picture quality, before colour saturation, colour accuracy and resolution?
What HDR does is to expand the available scope from the darkest blacks to the brightest whites, so data that would have been lost (especially at the low and high ends) in a video system handicapped by lessened dynamic range are retained instead. In other words, the contrast difference is higher, yet shadow and highlight detail can co-exist simultaneously on screen without one or the other being clipped, contributing to a picture that’s super-rich in depth and detail.
In one HDR Life of Pi scene played on the Samsung JS9500, we could actually see the outline of the sun, as well as the individual waves inside the reflections on the ocean. Such detail was missing from the corresponding Blu-ray version when we checked it out, making the visual experience just that bit less immersive.
When 10-bit panel and wide gamut colours were added into the mix, the result was nothing short of dazzling. Higher gradation quality allowed for smoother and more nuanced detailing, delivering a positive knock-on effect on the colour palette which – in combination with the purer colours afforded by nano crystals – could now be painted with greater precision and finesse. What you get is a more convincing image that’s bursting with dynamism and detail… just like in real life.