Today's system update addresses PS5's video output issue. A new 'HDR: On When Supported' setting lets PS5 switch between SDR and HDR output to match the content. However, it is only a partial solution.
PS5: Dynamic range matching
As discussed in our in-depth PS5 review, Sony designed its console to convert and output all content as HDR (whenever a HDR-compatible TV was connected). Besides being a lazy approach, it affects how SDR games/video look especially on LCD TVs. It is not true to the creator's intent.
Today's major system update for PS5 introduces a new setting option to address the issue. The HDR/SDR match setting is off by default so you need to manually enable it as shown in the picture below.
- "We've added the option to switch the video output to non-HDR when using a game or app that doesn't support HDR. To change this setting, go to Settings -> Screen and Video -> Video Output -> HDR," the changelog reads.
PS5 now respects the format of the content. Photo: FlatpanelsHD
Only a partial solution
FlatpanelsHD has installed the update to check PS5's new HDR/SDR matching function. We have spent only a limited time testing it but here are our initial findings.
It appears to work well for games - at least during boot-up. PS5 automatically switches to SDR output when opening games like Crash Bandicoot or WRC9, and it automatically switches to HDR output when opening HDR compatible games like Astro's Playroom or Spider-Man. PS5 will remain in either SDR or HDR when you switch back to the homescreen.
Support is more inconsistent for apps. The Apple TV app and Netflix continue to run in forced HDR mode on PlayStation 5. In these apps, all content will be converted to HDR output, which is wrong. The Disney+ app did not work for us when the 'HDR: On When Supported' setting is activated. YouTube quickly switches to HDR, then SDR, upon start-up, forcing our TV to report 'No signal' for a few seconds. After the hiccup, YouTube remain in SDR output even for HDR compatible videos (app is requesting the SDR stream). With PS5's match function deactivated, the YouTube app will force everything into HDR. With PS5's match function activated, YouTube HDR support is broken.
Also read: PS5 consumes 12x more energy than Apple TV during video streaming
PS5 is not a good media player. Besides its very high power consumption during video streaming, it lacks a number of key apps as well as frame rate matching. Today's HDR/SDR match function is not working well for apps either and Sony should put more effort into fixing the mess.