VESA is adding more DisplayHDR certification tiers for OLED panels and laptops

A little over a year ago, the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) introduced a certification for HDR displays, based on an fully open standard. Called DisplayHDR, it consisted of three levels: DisplayHDR 400, DisplayHDR 600, and DisplayHDR 1000. Now there are three more levels to account for the benefits of OLED panels, and the power requirements of slim laptops.

The new tiers include DisplayHDR 500, which VESA says is optimized for better thermal control in super-thin notebook displays, and two DisplayHDR True Black levels: DisplayHDR True Black 400 and DisplayHDR True Black 500.

VESA says its DisplayHDR True Black standard allows for up to 100X deeper black levels, and also a greater dynamic range and a 4X improvement in rise time compared to its DisplayHDR 1000 performance tier.

"On LCD displays, what is considered 'black' is actually a dark grey tone, which is a result of minor light leakage common with these displays. VESA defined the new DisplayHDR True Black specification with emissive displays in mind to bring the permissible black level down to 0.0005 cd/m2—the lowest level that can be effectively measured with industry-standard colorimeters," VESA explains.

"For gamers and movie watchers in subdued lighting environments, displays adhering to the DisplayHDR True Black specification can provide incredibly accurate shadow detail and dramatic increases in dynamic range (up to 50X depending on lighting condition) for a truly remarkable visual experience," VESA continues.

There's nothing inherently wrong with VESA's reasoning, though I'd argue that almost doubling the number of certification levels could create some confusion for consumers, particularly when the new tiers are aimed at different product segments.

This potentially applies more so to the new DisplayHDR 500 tier. VESA says the small decrease in luminance compared to the DisplayHDR 600 level is to allow for better thermal control in thin laptops and is optimized for very small displays, but "it actually applies to all resolutions and screen sizes, including those used in monitors."

The whole situation surrounding HDR is sort of a mess at the moment. You have different types of HDR, like Dolby Vision and HDR10, and monitor and TV makers claiming support on a wide range of models with wildly different peak brightness capabilities.

VESA is on the right track with its DisplayHDR labeling, which can help identify at a glance what kind of display you're really looking at. Hopefully, though, it doesn't muddy the waters with a bunch of additional certifications for various different product types, or else what's the point?