Did you know that it’s possible for your TV to indicate that you’re watching HDR10 or Dolby Vision video but your Fire TV is actually streaming plain old standard dynamic range SDR content? This is due to how most streaming services ramp up and down the type of content that you’re receiving based on available bandwidth and connection speed. If you ever find yourself questioning whether what you’re watching is actually in HDR or Dolby Vision, here is how to tell on a Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Fire TV Cube, or Fire TV Smart TV.
The way to check if you’re streaming HDR10, Dolby Vision, or regular SDR video on a Fire TV is to use hidden the Developer Tools Menu built into your Fire TV. This will display information about the video that is currently being played on your Fire TV. There is an unreliable remote button sequence you can press to open the hidden menu, but it is by far easier to simply use the Developer Tools Menu Shortcut App to access the setting. If you have a remote with app buttons, I suggest you use the Remapper app to remap one of your remote’s app buttons to launch the Developer Tools Menu Shortcut app. Doing so will allow you to instantly enable and disable the extra info without even leaving the video that is being played.
Once you have the Developer Tools Menu open, turn on the “Advanced Options” toggle. You can leave all the other options turned off. Later, when you’re done checking things, you can re-open the Developer Tools Menu and disable the “Advanced Options” to return everything back to normal. Alternatively, you can also just restart your Fire TV, since it always boots with all of these options off.
With “Advanced Options” turned on, start playing any video from any app on your Fire TV and pay attention to the info being displayed in the upper right corner of the screen. The first thing you want to look for is the “Color Standard” value. For HDR10 or Dolby Vision video, this value needs to be BT2020. If it is any other value, like BT709 or BT601, then you’re definitely not watching high dynamic range video, regardless of what your TV info says it is displaying. If the color standard of the video being played is BT2020, then the video being played is at least an HDR10 video.
Next, look at the value listed for “Codec.” That value can be used to determine if you’re viewing HDR10 or Dolby Vision. If you know anything about video codecs, this is counter-intuitive because the codec of a video doesn’t actually have anything to do with the dynamic range of the video. The “Codec” value just happens to be where the Fire TV indicates if the video being played is Dolby Vision or not. So, if the “Codec” value is listed as “dolby-vision” and the “Color Standard” value is listed as “BT2020” then you know the video being played is a Dolby Vision video. If the “Color Standard” value is listed as “BT2020” but the “Codec” value lists anything other than “dolby-vision,” then the video being played is an HDR10 video. Unfortunately, there is no way to differentiate between HDR10 and HDR10+ videos.
One final tip, if you’re having trouble getting the right video format to stream and you’re on a newer Fire TV model, is to use the newly added Audio and Video Diagnostic tool. It will tell you what the Fire TV thinks the TV you are connected to is capable of and how things are currently configured. From that tool, you can also play a sample HDR or Dolby Vision video, which, if done while the extra info mentioned above is visible, will give you values to compare to the video coming from streaming services.
If your TV is listing that HDR or Dolby Vision is being used and the streaming service indicates that HDR or Dolby Vision is available, but you’re not getting HDR or Dolby Vision listed in the video details mentioned above, then the most likely issue is your internet connection. Streaming services will usually start playing video in lower resolutions and in standard dynamic range until the app is certain your internet connection can handle the better video formats without buffering. The app will then upgrade the stream to its full resolution and to high dynamic range video. Some TVs don’t detect the switch correctly and indicate that you are viewing one type of video when you’re really streaming a different type of video. If your streaming app isn’t making the switch to a better video version, and you’re sure all other Fire TV and TV settings are configured correctly, try to improve your internet connection, since it’s the most likely issue preventing the best video formats from being used.