How Apple Devices Show HDR Brighter Than Pure White

Key Takeaways

  • Recent Macs, iPhones and iPads can “overdrive” white pixels to extend a display’s dynamic range.
  • HDR movie clips show up as brighter than the pure-white background around them.
  • You’ll need an Apple device with a built-in display to see the effect.


Apple

This is wild: When you look at an HDR video on the right Mac, or recent iPhones, the white is brighter than the brightest part of the screen. Apple calls it EDR, and it could become the standard for displays in the future. 

HDR, or , is when a TV or computer display shows a bigger range from dark to light, with blacker blacks and whiter whites, and an expanded range of colors. If you watch HDR-enabled movies, then you get to see this extended range.

That’s cool and all, but what if you’re viewing a thumbnail of an HDR clip on a non HDR display? That’s where EDR comes in. 

“It’s one thing to see HDR video on an HDR TV, where the entire image appears simply brighter and richer. It’s another thing to see this kind of imagery presented in the long-familiar context of a computer screen full of folder icons and file names,” writes on his prolost industry blog. “It’s like strolling through an art gallery and stumbling onto a painting with its own backlight.”


Lifewire / Charlie Sorrel

Apple’s EDR

Apple’s EDR, or , uses some clever tricks to show both HDR and SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) together on the same screen. It even works on older Macs that were never sold with HDR displays. It works like this: 

Normally, a brightness is coded across 256 steps, where zero is pure black, and 255 is pure white. When the Mac processes the HDR video, it assigns 0-255 to the regular windows and other stuff on screen, but also assigns numbers above 255 to the HDR video. 

The trick comes when the whole lot is displayed, and only works if your screen’s brightness is set below 100%. The Mac then boosts parts of the screen to show brighter pixels, while dimming the surrounding interface slightly. If you have a recent iPhone or iPad, you can check it out right now, by finding some HDR video. Or you can get a rough idea of it in this video from Maschwitz:

Who Cares?

Is EDR any more than a neat trick? Yes and no. For most of us, this is little more than a gimmick, but for video pros, it makes it easier to preview clips without having to open them in a special app. And one could also argue that color was a gimmick when the original Macintosh was perfectly capable of editing text on its black and white screen. Or that high-resolution, “Retina” displays were a gimmick. 

“It’s like strolling through an art gallery and stumbling onto a painting with its own backlight.”

The thing is, these gimmicks quickly get normalized, and become essential. That’s what’s happening here. Apple is normalizing HDR, which can be viewed on its devices, and even recorded using the iPhone 12.

Soon, we’ll be so used to it that if competitors don’t follow along, their devices will look plain in comparison. So no, we don’t need EDR on our phones and laptops, but—like retina resolution—once we’re used to it, it’s going to be hard to go back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related

COMPUTERS NEWS

What’s Next for the Mac in 2021?

Key Takeaways Apple plans to switch all its Macs to Apple Silicon chips within two years. The current iMac is due for an update—its design dates back to 2008. This year’s Pro Macs may get a hot-rodded version of the M1 chip. Apple With new chips, a new iMac, and new laptops, 2021 might be […]

Read More
COMPUTERS NEWS

Will CES 2021 Be the Battleground for New Computer Chips?

Key Takeaways Apple’s successful introduction of its custom, in-house Apple Silicon will challenge the fragmented PC market. The battle between Intel and AMD is intensifying, with AMD Ryzen processors coming to many mainstream laptops. Consumers buying a Windows laptop in 2021 will have the most choice in over two decades. Jeremy Laukkonen / Lifewire Apple […]

Read More
COMPUTERS NEWS

Dell’s New Monitors Are Made for Remote Work

Key Takeaways Dell’s new monitors have a button just to launch Microsoft Teams. They also feature a built-in camera, speakers, and microphone, and blue-light reduction. In the future, office tech might be more home-office friendly. Dell Dell’s just to launch Microsoft Teams, along with built-in microphones and pop-up webcams. In short, they’re the perfect monitors […]

Read More