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Is Nvidia Faking HDR? I don’t think it’s that Simple

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Posted June 7, 2017 by Josh Jackson in Displays

News stories are popping up about Nvidia deliberately worsening an SDR monitor that was being compared to an HDR one to make the new technology stand out better. Has Nvidia really stooped to faking a showcase just to push new technology on consumers? If that’s the case, then maybe HDR isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be and we can pull out our torches, our pitchforks and begin hunting down team green for trying to mislead us. On the other hand, I really think there’s way more going on than what meets the eye and even though wild speculation will ensue, I have solid experience leading me to believe that Nvidia was genuinely trying to give a realistic representation, even if their methods were questionable.

Let’s start out with how this Computex display from Nvidia was found out in the first place. Hardware Canucks was granted access to the monitor settings and upon restoring factory settings on the SDR monitor, it looked much better than before, even looking better than the HDR display. One thing that makes total sense is that a reviewer would look at the SDR monitor and pick up on something being wrong right away. After restoring better settings, the SDR panel looked significantly better than HDR and it could easily be concluded that the new technology is being over-hyped. Hardware Canucks released a video and the story began spreading across the tech sites. That said, they do plan to have a follow up on the subject when they review an LG HDR panel, so no doubt they will make a final opinion after that.

So is HDR crap and is Nvidia being shady on this? I actually don’t think so. In order to know this, you have to go back with me to CES 2016. It was at AMD’s booth that I first experienced an HDR television and as soon as I saw the 1440p panel, I knew it was love at first sight. The 4k panel beside it paled in comparison. Moving on, I managed to make it to CES 2017 and not only see Nvidia’s display, but I also saw a couple of HDR displays throughout the show as well. For starters, on a random walk through of LG’s booth trying to get to Intel, I saw one display I thought looked better than the rest and after walking up close to it, found out it was HDR. While that began solidifying in my mind that HDR was the real deal, it was seeing the Infiltrator demo at Nvidia’s booth that easily secured it’s supremacy in my mind. Even after returning from CES, I set up my own Infiltrator demo at the hospital I work at to realize that with my own hardware, HDR still stood out as such a huge improvement.

If you see the display that was covered at Computex, you should instantly realize that something is wrong with that HDR panel. Even though recording it is worse than seeing it in person, the difference between it and a similarly recorded Infiltrator demo from CES is extremely different. This is where the wild speculation comes in. For starters, it could be that even though Mass Effect: Andromeda was made with HDR in mind, it doesn’t mean it was made well. We could find out about a game patch a month or two down the road that fixes HDR clarity in game play. The other more likely possibility is that Acer hasn’t mastered their HDR technology quite yet. Why? Because the display that was running at CES was almost guaranteed to be the Asus model, as can be seen by the red ROG circle shining beneath the base. The idea that Asus would have a more polished sample at CES than Acer had at Computex is not a stretch at all and it’s possible that Acer has some work left to do on their HDR displays before they release final products to the consumer.

Whether you think Nvidia should have tweaked settings or not is up to you, but I do want to give them one huge benefit of the doubt. They’ve no doubt had numerous HDR displays in their offices over the past several months. My guess is that they were completely taken aback at the display when they saw it, but knew it was too late to change products or agreements with Acer. Under what would be a controversial choice, they decided to tweak the settings because they felt confident that it would more accurately represent the true nature of HDR, rather than risk hurting the potential experience for consumers and potential sales for Acer, especially if simple firmware updates solves the issue before release. Considering what I’ve seen of HDR, I’m convinced this display is the exception here, not the rule.

Btw, if you’ve pretty much felt that I was a pure AMD fanboy at this point, hopefully you get a glimpse into how I’m truly a pure computer hardware fanboy, regardless of flavor. =D

Hardware Canucks Video

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