Got yourself a shiny new HDR (High Dynamic Range) TV but lacking the content to really show it off? Relax. YouTube’s got you covered. Today, the Google subsidiary went live with its long-awaited support for HDR streaming, taking its place alongside the myriad formats YouTube has added in recent years like 360 degree video, 3D, live streaming and 4K. Put simply, HDR means that videos can contain greater extremes of contrast than previously possible, showing immense detail in both dark and bright areas of the screen simultaneously. YouTube reckon this adds up to an overall enhanced vibrancy of color, claiming that “…HDR unlocks the most spectacular image quality we've ever streamed.”
HDR is the latest ‘must-have’ feature fielded by TV manufacturers in order to stimulate sales since the 4K market began to settle. In this initial roll-out of their HDR service, YouTube claim that, as of today, supported devices (specifically HDR TVs attached to one of Google’s own Chromecast Ultras) can enjoy streaming some seriously impressive content. This is soon due to expand out to all Samsung Ultra High Definition (UHD) and SUHD TVs made this year, with presumably, wider device support to follow. Not only can you stream HDR content from today, but you can upload it too, should you be the lucky owner of a device capable of capturing such video.
This will be welcome news for content-starved HDR TV customers who might otherwise be awaiting the arrival of the newest iterations of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, both boasting HDR as a key new selling point. Frustratingly though, HDR appearing as standard in games looks a long way off and it may take some time before many games supporting the new feature arrive. Similarly, only a handful of HDR-ready Netflix titles currently exist, although this will no doubt expand significantly over time. YouTube are quick to point out that those of us without these cutting-edge screens need not feel too left out since HDR videos will default to playing in standard dynamic range on unsupported devices. However, for today at least, early adopters have reason to be cheerful: thanks to YouTube, they can once again gawp at their screen like they did the first time, when watching the in-store demo reel.