> Sorry if this is a foolish question or if it has already been answered.
> I have been reading about the new HDR computer monitors being announced at CES 2017.
> (which sound pretty damn amazing)
> Does anyone have a sense of whether HDR would improve the picture in MAME ? In other
> words, would Donkey Kong look any better on a HDR monitor than a non-HDR monitor ?
> Again, sorry if this is a foolish question.
> Thanks for your input!
> Old Wolf
> Austin, TX
I'm not a developer so take the following with a grain of salt.
AFAIK MAME lacks color management, so I'm pretty sure the emulators just sends colors to the graphics card which gets sent straight to the monitor.
So the color values from the graphics hardware on the emulated system get sent straight to the monitor (obviously in a form that is understood by modern hardware). The consequence is that a color value of (1, 0, 0) will look different depending on the monitor used. For example, if you connect an old CRT from the 50s, the red will be more red than a current monitor, because the old TVs used a different color standard. The current standard is called sRGB. There are other standards, which can give you more saturated colors, but we really only care about that in digital darkroom stuff. At the end of the day, pretty much everything gets turned into sRGB. There are some proposals for new HDTV formats to use a better color space.
Now 'HDR monitor' means a lot of different things. First of all, the colors and contrast is going to be much better (and when configured properly, more accurate) than your typical monitor just within the sRGB color space. MAME benefits from this automatically. Now another thing is the bit-depdth. Note that there are no monitors that can actually show all sRGB colors perfectly, because they are digital. There is a finite number of colors that can be shown. Any color space, regardless of the size of the gamut, has infinite colors (think of it like an old-fashioned volume knob; there are an infinite amount of volume levels). Crappy old LCDs only had six bits per pixel, which can't even give you so-called 'True color' or over sixteen million colors. Modern LCDs are usually eight or ten bits per pixel. Colors that are specified with floating point values will take advantage of the extra colors. I think MAME specifies everything in the 0-255 format (it does use floating point for effects), so it won't benefit from this. Obviously, this doesn't matter for RGB games, because RGB hardware for these games wasn't even 8 bpp capable until like the N64 era. But it does sort of matter for YIQ (YUV) games I guess, because these games used analogue color values, and having more bits could theoretically allow MAME to better approximate these color values in digital form. The thing is, the approximation is already good enough. It would hardly make a difference. The actual color accuracy and contrast of the monitor is far more important.
Another thing 'HDR' probably refers to is a wider gamut. Now a wider gamut monitor can show more saturated colors, but unless it has a sufficiently high bit depth (I think 16bpp is the best these days), it will actually show sRGB worse than just a plain old sRGB monitor. Also they are a real pain in the ass to get working properly, because you actually have to understand color management and unfortunately it seems like Adobe software is the only software that actually does color management properly. MAME won't benefit at all from a wider gamut, even if it were implemented properly, because 99% of all (color) games were designed for sRGB or a very similar de facto standard that was around before sRGB existed. What would benefit from a wider gamut is monochrome games, because the color of these monitors is outside sRGB.
My opinion: good quality monitors with more accurate colors and better contrast are awesome and MAME will benefit from this with no additional work required. Monitors with more than 8 bits per pixel are cool, but I think MAME would have to be modified to take advantage of it. Wide gamut monitors, however, are IMO pointless for consumers and should really only be used for photographic work. AFAIK Mame has no support for wide gamuts right now. Wide gamut monitors usually do have an sRGB 'emulation' mode which is fine, but then why spend more for a wider gamut in the first place?
That's a lot of info and it might not be wholly accurate, but I hope that gives you a better idea what this stuff actually means.
Oh and to answer your question, Donkey Kong will look better, but still not as good as on a CRT