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Should you care about having HDR on your laptop?

High Dynamic Range (HDR) is very awesome, that much isn't in doubt. But it's also still very much in the early stages when it comes to content, and importantly, the devices that support it.

There are a number of TVs that support HDR, but you're unlikely to be using one as a PC monitor. There are PC monitors starting to trickle out that support HDR, too, but what about laptops?

Again, there are a small number on the market, such as the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga, but this will grow as time goes on. But is it something you should care about? As far as laptops are concerned, for most people, no.

Why shouldn't I care about HDR?

Simply put, for most people it's not something worth investing extra money into when choosing a laptop. Even if you're a road warrior who binges on Netflix a lot, it's probably not worth hunting down a HDR laptop.

Netflix is just one of a small handful of content providers supplying HDR video right now, one of the other big ones is Amazon. Neither have an enormous selection of content right now, and you can't even watch Amazon Prime in HDR on your PC right now. Netflix at least supports this through its app and website in Microsoft Edge.

Gamers, too, may begin to care about HDR, but right now you're even more limited there on hardware to choose from. A very expensive laptop from MSI is about your only shot right now.

So, even if you're a gamer, or a hardcore TV/movie watcher, a laptop really isn't the device to turn to right now for HDR whether you like it or not. And honestly, the average laptop user that browses the web, works, hits up social media and such, those people really don't need to worry.

So who would like to have a HDR laptop?

I've touched on gamers already, and eventually this will no doubt become a big market for HDR laptops. But we're a way off that yet. So who would really benefit? That would be the content creators.

HDR is still in its infancy for both creating and consuming, but it's still a thing. Popular cameras like the Nikon D800, and the Canon 5D Mk3 both have excellent HDR modes. And if you're creating HDR content you'll sure want a HDR display to edit it on.

Those kind of people are still in the minority, but for creators moving into HDR, a laptop with a compatible display is going to be essential. Something like Lenovo's latest X1 Carbon might be a great choice.

The bottom line

For most of us, HDR isn't something we should worry about yet when choosing a new laptop. Even if you're going to hang onto it for a couple of years, the choice isn't there right now, those that do have it are very expensive and there's not really enough content to get excited about.

The space will grow and the market will change, and in a couple of years the answer to this question is potentially very different.

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

3 Comments
  • HDR on laptops is primarily high brightness. Obviously, good colour accuracy etc too but primarily a higher brightness. Hence, the new X1 Carbon is 500nits. I'm going to buy one of these with the HDR screen. Not for HDR but for outdoor use and because it has a glossy screen. The 500 nits screen will offset the glossy panel as well as make it far more usable outdoors.
  • So having a HDR display is all about having a display with higher nits! I suppose for a full fledged HDR system you need a display with 1000 nits?
  • Correct, in the TV world. HDR laptops aren't really HDR in my opinion. Colours just pop more due to the higher brightness.