What Does ‘IMAX Enhanced’ Mean and Does It Matter When Shopping for A TV?

What Does ‘IMAX Enhanced’ Mean and Does It Matter When Shopping for A TV?

TV makers absolutely love being confusing, whether it’s the type of display (OLED, ULED, QLED, LED, LCD, 4K UHD), or the type of streaming quality the particular brand is optimised for, or even the difference in user interfaces. We’ve reviewed a number of TVs over the years and aside from a few tid bits here and there, we’ve not actually explained what IMAX Enhanced means, so with CES 2023 pumping out a tonne of TV announcements, we thought we’d take a moment to dive in.

Back in late 2021, Disney+ announced it was streaming 13 of its blockbuster Marvel titles in IMAX’s Expanded Aspect Ratio via IMAX Enhanced. Since then, it’s added a few more titles, 16 in total at the time of publication. While there’s only 16 titles, and out of the major streaming services, it’s currently just Disney+ that offers the visual experience, it’s something TV manufacturers are investing in optimising for.

What is IMAX Enhanced?

If you’re shopping for a new TV, it’s likely you’ll hear one of two things: that it’s optimised for Dolby Vision or IMAX Enhanced. Dolby Vision, according to Dolby, “unlocks the full potential of HDR technology by dynamically optimising the image quality based on your service, device, and platform to deliver mesmerising visuals every time”. IMAX Enhanced, meanwhile “offers the most immersive viewing experience outside of a theatre by bringing together best-in-class certified devices, remastered content and elevated streaming”.

While traditional IMAX uses a 1.43:1 ratio, Expanded Aspect Ratio is 1.90:1 which is also closer to the 16:9 ratio for televisions. In effect, that means the film will display 26 per cent more of the screen image on home users’ screens in some sequences and reduce the size of the side black bars. This feature won’t suddenly balloon your screen the width of a semi-truck, but it will present a fuller, potentially richer visual experience thanks to its larger format.

One TV manufacturer that has gone to the effort of obtaining IMAX Enhanced certification is Hisense. While at CES 2023, Gizmodo Australia sat down with Hisense Australia national retail training manager Chris Mayer to ask, simply, why?

After explaining that certification requires a manufacturer to pass 900 tests (it’s not ‘pay to play’ like Dolby) spanning brightness, motion, colour accuracy and sound, Mayer said it’s an important investment to make.

Just the same as TV manufacturers like to offer different things, streaming services also offer different video types. So while Hisense spent a lot of its R&D dollars on IMAX Enhanced, it’s also made sure its range of TVs are optimised for Dolby Vision and HDR10 (and HDR10+).

“Every single type of content that can possibly be enhanced, we can do that,” Mayer explained. “And I would say many of our competitors, some that sell at higher price points, cannot make the same claim, which I think is pretty important.”

So, to answer the question, IMAX Enhanced is one of three kick-ass ways of viewing cinema quality content at home. It helps to have a TV that’s optimised for it so you can properly experience it, but it’s not as common as Dolby Vision is. Mayer would argue it’s still making the investment to make sure the company’s customers get the best viewing experience on every platform.

“What we’re trying to do at Hisense is be premium, but be attainable, and so investing into these certifications is really important for us … at the end of the day, what we’re getting is better content for our customers and that’s all they see,” he told Gizmodo Australia.

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