Although – or maybe because – Microsoft has recently been doing a pretty impressive job of adding new features to its Xbox One X console, it seems that Xbox fans still want more.
A petition has been started at change.org asking Microsoft to add support for the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ high dynamic range formats to the Xbox One X – a move which the petitioners say would make it ‘the true media powerhouse MS is advertising it to be’.
Dolby Vision and HDR10+ are two advanced versions of the high dynamic range (HDR) technology already used by the Xbox One X and S consoles (as well as the standard and Pro PS4s). They differ from the industry standard HDR10 HDR format in the way they add an extra layer of data that carries scene by scene instructions compatible screens can use to deliver HDR pictures that contain more dynamism and color precision.
Dolby Vision is already used to enhance the viewing experience of Netflix, the US version of Amazon Prime Video, a couple of PC games, and a growing number of 4K Blu-rays (which the Xbox One S and X consoles can play via their built-in 4K Blu-ray drives).
HDR10+ is so far only found on Amazon Prime HDR video streams. However, 20th Century Fox is set to start releasing 4K Blu-rays in the format later this year.
When Dolby Vision was first developed, it required specific hardware to work. However, as I revealed here, last year Dolby developed a software version of Dolby Vision that could potentially be added to existing hardware – provided that hardware had powerful enough processing.
It’s this software implementation that’s enabled Sony to add Dolby Vision to some of its 2016 and 2017 TVs, for instance.
If a mere TV can handle the software Dolby Vision version, the argument goes, then surely it should be relatively straightforward for hardware as rich in processing power as the Xbox One X to deliver it (and HDR10+) too.
As the terms of the change.org petition point out, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President for Gaming, Mike Ybarra, stated in an interview with TechRadar last July that “We have always told the fans that if Dolby Vision is something that they’re interested in, then we’ll take a look at it.”
This suggests that Ybarra doesn’t see a technical issue with adding Dolby Vision to the Xbox One X (and, possibly, the S).
The petition, meanwhile, is clearly a concerted effort to accumulate the sufficient level of interest Ybarra refers to in his statement. At the time of writing, the petition has already racked up nearly 900 signatures, and this number will surely grow as the Xbox One X user base and awareness of the Dolby Vision and HDR10+ formats both increase.
It should be said that even if it is technically possible to add Dolby Vision and HDR10+ to the Xbox One X, there’s a potential financial stumbling block in that Dolby requires hardware brands to pay a licence fee to use Dolby Vision technology. So it’s not just a case of pumping new software into your Xbox One X console.
HDR10+ does not require a licence fee, and so may be easier/more cost effective to add. However, there’s currently less support for that platform from the content creation side, so arguably there’s less incentive for Microsoft to add it.
If Microsoft did manage to add both Dolby Vision and HDR10+ to the Xbox One X console, though, it would make it the only home entertainment source besides the upcoming Panasonic DP-UB820 (revealed here) 4K Blu-ray player that’s capable of playing both of the AV world’s key new dynamic HDR formats.
This would make it a very big deal among AV fans – especially as the Panasonic UB820 will likely cost more than the Xbox One X without also being a great games console!
I’ll ask Microsoft if there’s any new information they can share about HDR10+/Dolby Vision and the Xbox console family. In the mean time, if you feel like adding your signature to the change.org petition, it surely won’t harm the chances of one or both dynamic HDR formats coming to your console at some point in the future.