Xbox Series X and S roll with Auto HDR (by default)

Today a Microsoft representative confirmed that the Xbox Series X and the Xbox Series S consoles will work with Auto HDR. That's high dynamic range, turned on by default, for all titles, for both consoles. Per Peggy Lo, Compatibility Program Lead for Xbox, "this gives an extra sense of richness and depth to the image when compared to a standard dynamic range (SDR) image".

The first time the Xbox ecosystem worked with HDR in a significant way was with Xbox One S. Unfortunate for owners of the Xbox One, "thousands of Xbox games shipped before HDR was first introduced with Xbox One S."

Microsoft wants all the games to look as colorful, sharp, deep, and aesthetically amazing as possible, given the hardware capabilities of the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. But since implementing HDR compatibility with a game takes development resources and time, they've decided to go ahead and flip the switch for all the games, all the time.

Both Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S have Auto HDR "implemented by the system" and "enabled by the console's hardware." Because of the way in which Auto HDR was enabled, Lo says "there is absolutely no performance cost to the CPU, GPU, or memory, and there is no additional latency added."

Auto HDR automatically adds "HDR enhancements" to games that'd otherwise only appear with standard dynamic range. Apparently, as Peggy Lo suggested today, "Auto HDR enhances the visual quality of an SDR game without changing the original artistic intent of the game."

Apparently – and we'll see this all when we get our first Xbox Series console in for review – Auto HDR images are "brighter and more colorful only in the naturally expected areas." This SHOULD be different from the less-than-great HDR implementations enabled in early "Smart TV" sets released a decade ago (or even a half-decade ago). Cross your fingers this Auto HDR system works better than any we've seen before!

Sidenote: Once we figure out how to turn Auto HDR OFF, if that's possible, we'll let you know about that too!