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gkarris
Mar 23, 2007, 09:38 AM
Here's the cnet review (I know):

http://reviews.cnet.com/4505-6739_7-32306442.html


Video quality
Unfortunately, the excellent streaming performance is offset by a drawback that's more the fault of iTunes than Apple TV: generally disappointing video quality. Movies and TV shows in iTunes are currently available in what Apple calls "near-DVD quality"--a maximum of 640x480. Perhaps "bad analog cable quality" would be more descriptive--all of the videos were quite soft, lacking the sort of fine detail we've come to expect from well-mastered DVDs.

But the resolution isn't the full story: we found the quality to be very uneven across our cross-section of sample videos. The "Phyllis' Wedding" episode of The Office looked pretty good--no complaints for a 247MB file that cost us a mere $2. But Lost looked pretty chunky--square MPEG artifacts were clearly visible in the lush jungle scenes. Galactica looked even worse--the dark corridors and exterior space battles found in "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" were muddy to the point of distraction. The movies were somewhat better, but even nonvideophiles could pick out a litany of problems: Wes Anderson's repeated panning shots in The Royal Tenenbaums showed considerably more frame judder than you'd see on DVD, and the various details of the family house--crowded bookcases and wood paneling--were often submerged in splotches of black and brown with no detail. Similarly, false contouring artifacts were in evidence on the brick walls of the rooftop scene in the first chapter of The Incredibles, as well as on Jack-Jack's head during the family dinner scene. The streaming movie trailers were worst of all: 300, Grindhouse, and Zodiac were all a mess--but they were freebies and streaming straight off the Web, so we were far more forgiving.

In other words, the video quality on the Apple TV wasn't that different from what we found on products such as the MovieBeam and the RCA Akimbo Player. Likewise, especially when blown up on a big-screen (42 inches or larger) television, Apple TV videos were a step down from what you'd see on a $50 DVD player.



I have a front projector with a 55" diagonal in 16:9 mode. I've purchased both iTunes shows in 320x240 and 640x480. I've been encoding my shows slightly better (in the hopes for a widescreen iPod).

So according to this article, :apple:TV is not for me?

I did cancel my order for it, and I spent the money for a PS3 for a Mac Mini so I can encode video faster. I always end up with the DVD anyways.

I'm still waiting for that widescreen iPod...:mad:



PixelFactory
Mar 23, 2007, 09:55 AM
I don't think the review is harping on the quality of the video coming from the ?TV as the quality of the content purchased from the iTunes store. I have the ?TV hooked up to a 37" 1080p LCD and the quality of the video is great. Of course I am playing rips from DVDs I own. Hopefully Apple will take the criticism and up the quality of the content they are selling, better encoding and HD.

sbanders
Mar 23, 2007, 09:58 AM
I think cnet's review is a little misleading. IMO most people on this forum will be using a lot of their own non-iTunes video, and the DVDs I ripped at ~1500-1600 kbps h.264 (with Handbrake) look spectacular on my 42" Sony LCD with the aTV set to 1080i, in fact, much better than my up-converting DVD player. I suspect many other aTV owners would agree that it's surprising how good the video looks. On the other hand, I also agree that the video quality of content on iTunes varies dramatically and a lot of it is pretty bad.

aristobrat
Mar 23, 2007, 09:59 AM
I had the exact opposite experience watching the trailer for 300 on my 50" Panasonic plasma -- it looked (and sounded) great.

I'm wondering when they purchased the iTS episodes they used in their review.

My roommate streamed an episode of Heros he purchased last week, and it looked very nice. When he streamed an episode of Battlestar Galactica that he purchased BEFORE the iTunes store reencoded all of their TV shows in the better format (sometime last year??), it looked pretty bad. The episode of BSG they mention was from last season, so I wish they would have clarified that.

the DVDs I ripped at ~1500-1600 kbps h.264 (with Handbrake) look spectacular on my 42" Sony LCD with the aTV set to 1080i, in fact, much better than my up-converting DVD player.
I'm new to HDTV (just got my set this week and don't have an upconverting DVD player yet), but I was very impressed with a DVD I HandBraked using Multimedia's tutorial posted somewhere on here...

mattscott306
Mar 23, 2007, 10:03 AM
True, handbrake ripped videos look great, but lets be honest iTunes video's are **not** the best quality. They had to find a balance between filesize and quality, and I think they ended up a little more on the filesize side then on the quality side.

mark-itguy
Mar 23, 2007, 10:05 AM
So according to this article, :apple:TV is not for me?


This is a tough call, and I do not want to [re]hash the debate about the viability of the Apple TV. Like you, I have some TV Shows I bought back when they were at 320x240. On my iPod 5.xG they were fine, but with the A/V cable they were so\so on my TV. Then they started selling their shows in the new 640x480 format. Big improvment. 80% of the time, I use my iPod 5.xG for VIDEO, [airplane, bus, lunch, etc...]. So when I first heard about the Apple TV I got real excited. But...

Of all of the video I watch on my iPod, 90% of it is ripped DVD's I personally own. I only have one season pass from iTunes, and have not [yet] even bought any movies.

So, after I started thinking about it, I had to ask myself if I was so lazy I'd buy this thing all just to have my DVD's in like an electronic jukebox. I often playback iPod video on my TV, which with the newer format, looks good. So what else does the Apple TV give me? All in all, just the ability to stay planted on the couch and to not be required to sync videos to my iPod. But I want to keep my iPod in sync for videos, so I can watch them on my iPod.

Bottom line, I think many users of the Apple TV have more downloaded content than I have, plan to buy more than I do, do not watch videos on their iPod as much as I do, and do not use their iPod to watch videos on their TV. Assuming this is correct, I am not a good candidate either, financially, to go buy an Apple TV.

Will I anyway? Probably! It still has a major appeal, I just don't think I can justify it nearly as much as many others can.

gkarris
Mar 23, 2007, 10:10 AM
Great posts - thanks!

Rumblings elsewhere on the net say that :apple:TV is the best of the "streaming media unit from a PC" so far...

And this is just STARTERS for Apple! :)

roland.g
Mar 23, 2007, 10:12 AM
I currently have an upconverting DVD player that I just got, a Sony. I have that hooked up to my Samsung 42" DLP (3 yrs old, 1 DVI in, 3 component in), and have my Dish DVR-rec'r hooked up via component. The audio on my DVD runs optical straight to my audio rec'r since I am going HDMI -> DVI on the DVD. Would I want to hook up an :apple:tv via that HDMI - > DVI or with one of the remaining component inputs? (I would use optical audio to the rec'r either way).

Is there any advantage to the HDMI/DVI in vs. component?

One reason I ask is that I noticed that using the new Sony upconverting DVD player I don't have the P.Size options I do with component, but it smart sets the aspect ratio etc. It's a bit different from my old DVD player where I would set every DVD playing on Zoom-1 to stretch the vertical picture to match the widescreen, thus eliminating the black bars on 1.85:1 and reducing them on any anamorphic 2.xx:1. I think I would rather keep the DVD player on the DVI and use component for the :apple:tv, as long as quality doesn't suffer. The TV is a 720p/1080i HDTV monitor (no built in tuner).

gkarris
Mar 23, 2007, 10:17 AM
I currently have an upconverting DVD player that I just got, a Sony. I have that hooked up to my Samsung 42" DLP (3 yrs old, 1 DVI in, 3 component in), and have my Dish DVR-rec'r hooked up via component. The audio on my DVD runs optical straight to my audio rec'r since I am going HDMI -> DVI on the DVD. Would I want to hook up an :apple:tv via that HDMI - > DVI or with one of the remaining component inputs? (I would use optical audio to the rec'r either way).

Is there any advantage to the HDMI/DVI in vs. component?

One reason I ask is that I noticed that using the new Sony upconverting DVD player I don't have the P.Size options I do with component, but it smart sets the aspect ratio etc. It's a bit different from my old DVD player where I would set every DVD playing on Zoom-1 to stretch the vertical picture to match the widescreen, thus eliminating the black bars on 1.85:1 and reducing them on any anamorphic 2.xx:1. I think I would rather keep the DVD player on the DVI and use component for the :apple:tv, as long as quality doesn't suffer. The TV is a 720p/1080i HDTV monitor (no built in tuner).


HDMI is used for Video and Audio, and to transfer 1080i/p protected content (upscaled DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD).

For the stuff off of :apple:TV, unless it's HD, component is fine. I use component on my projector for DVD all the way up to 1080i for XB360 and it's fine for 1080i and below.

innhitman
Mar 23, 2007, 10:17 AM
The video part of the appl tv is just plain sad.

Sorry, if I offend people, but this is NOT state of the art..... yet!

They better update the video quality soon or this will be bad....

Sales of itunes movies must include hi rez... at least 720p.... and conversion software for home dvd's or ALL dvd's must include at least 720p...

and the unit must allow you to store more than 40gb... perhaps it should allow external storage via ethernet drive....

gkarris
Mar 23, 2007, 10:29 AM
The video part of the appl tv is just plain sad.

Sorry, if I offend people, but this is NOT state of the art..... yet!

They better update the video quality soon or this will be bad....

Sales of itunes movies must include hi rez... at least 720p.... and conversion software for home dvd's or ALL dvd's must include at least 720p...

and the unit must allow you to store more than 40gb... perhaps it should allow external storage via ethernet drive....

YES! Like on XBox live - you can pick between the regular version or the HD (larger files, but nice quality). I download an episode of "Enterprise" in 720p and the quality is nice!

killmoms
Mar 23, 2007, 10:35 AM
True, handbrake ripped videos look great, but lets be honest iTunes video's are **not** the best quality. They had to find a balance between filesize and quality, and I think they ended up a little more on the filesize side then on the quality side.

To be fair, the compromise isn't quite "file-size" so much as the Baseline Profile - Low Complexity setting for the encoder they had to use to reduce the decompression processing required so that they'd be playable on an iPod. An H.264 file encoded with Main Profile at 640 x 480 from the original source at the same file sizes seen on the iTunes Store will look much better than Baseline Profile - LC.

sbanders
Mar 23, 2007, 10:36 AM
The video part of the appl tv is just plain sad.

Again...this is misleading. The video capabilities of the AppleTV are surprisingly good in my experience. The video sold on iTunes could conceivably be called "sad," but it certainly doesn't represent what the AppleTV is capable of.

Sorry, if I offend people, but this is NOT state of the art..... yet!

No offense taken ;-) I don't think anyone paying $299 for the AppleTV expected it to be state of the art. But again, it's surprisingly good--gorgeous even--when watching ripped DVDs, upscaled from DVD resolution to 1080i by the AppleTV.

They better update the video quality soon or this will be bad....

I hope so too!

Jim Campbell
Mar 23, 2007, 11:04 AM
Here's the cnet review (I know):

"Galactica looked even worse--the dark corridors and exterior space battles found in "Resurrection Ship, Part 2" were muddy to the point of distraction."


I think it's worth mentioning, though, that BSG has -- for some reason -- always looked like crap. It showed distinct pixillation artefacts when I used to watch it directly on Sky One with no computer involved at all (digital cable box plugged straight into the TV), it did the same when I started recording it from Sky One via EyeTV and, after NTL's little spat with Sky saw Sky's channels axed from my cable service, I saw the exact same problem with episodes D/Led from BitTorrent.

I'm seeing a certain amount of pixillation in most digital video content, but it's pretty much ignorable in most instances. For some reason, it seems to be much worse on BSG. Or I'm going mad. Not sure which.

Cheers!

Jim

madmaxmedia
Mar 23, 2007, 11:34 AM
HDMI is used for Video and Audio, and to transfer 1080i/p protected content (upscaled DVD, Blu-ray and HD DVD).

For the stuff off of :apple:TV, unless it's HD, component is fine. I use component on my projector for DVD all the way up to 1080i for XB360 and it's fine for 1080i and below.

IIRC, component is fine for up to 1080i (there seems to be a lot of debate over this, but older HDTV's and cable boxes have been using component for 1080i and I bet most people couldn't tell the difference between component and HDMI/DVI anyway.) The limitations of component video cables are beyond what people are generally watching with ATV.

Multimedia
Mar 23, 2007, 11:58 AM
Here's the cnet review (http://reviews.cnet.com/4505-6739_7-32306442.html) (I know): I have a front projector with a 55" diagonal in 16:9 mode. I've purchased both iTunes shows in 320x240 and 640x480. I've been encoding my shows slightly better (in the hopes for a widescreen iPod).

So according to this article, :apple:TV is not for me?

I did cancel my order for it, and I spent the money for a PS3 for a Mac Mini so I can encode video faster. I always end up with the DVD anyways.

I'm still waiting for that widescreen iPod...:mad:Me too. Maybe we'll have to wait 'til Fall. :(

Yeah I think :apple:TV is not ready for prime time this time 'round. Maybe next year. But I'm not holding my breath.

I don't want to harsh your buzz and/or hiJack this thread, but would you mind explaining how a PS3 and a Mac mini go together? You lost me at "PS3 for a Mac Mini". How on God's green earth is a PS3 for a Mac Mini? :confused: :eek: I mean if there is a way they go together, I want one. But I don't understand how they do. Can I make a PS3 belong with a Quad G5 too?

killmoms
Mar 23, 2007, 12:01 PM
I think it's worth mentioning, though, that BSG has -- for some reason -- always looked like crap. It showed distinct pixillation artefacts when I used to watch it directly on Sky One with no computer involved at all (digital cable box plugged straight into the TV), it did the same when I started recording it from Sky One via EyeTV and, after NTL's little spat with Sky saw Sky's channels axed from my cable service, I saw the exact same problem with episodes D/Led from BitTorrent.

I'm seeing a certain amount of pixillation in most digital video content, but it's pretty much ignorable in most instances. For some reason, it seems to be much worse on BSG. Or I'm going mad. Not sure which.

Cheers!

Jim

I can guarantee you it looks great when it leaves the post production house—I work at the company where it's onlined. I think Sci-Fi just tends to look **** on any provider. I do know that all the digital cable/satellite providers squeeze the everloving crap out of their signals though. I can barely watch digital TV anymore, it all looks terrible.

savar
Mar 23, 2007, 12:08 PM
I think cnet's review is a little misleading. IMO most people on this forum will be using a lot of their own non-iTunes video, and the DVDs I ripped at ~1500-1600 kbps h.264 (with Handbrake) look spectacular on my 42" Sony LCD with the aTV set to 1080i, in fact, much better than my up-converting DVD player. I suspect many other aTV owners would agree that it's surprising how good the video looks. On the other hand, I also agree that the video quality of content on iTunes varies dramatically and a lot of it is pretty bad.

If you've watching 720p movie trailers on your xbox 360, though, you'll definitely notice the difference. Apple has no choice but to offer some HD content, especially since the ATV only has HD outputs.

gkarris
Mar 23, 2007, 12:22 PM
Me too. Maybe we'll have to wait 'til Fall. :(

Yeah I think :apple:TV is not ready for prime time this time 'round. Maybe next year. But I'm not holding my breath.

I don't want to harsh your buzz and/or hiJack this thread, but would you mind explaining how a PS3 and a Mac mini go together? You lost me at "PS3 for a Mac Mini". How on God's green earth is a PS3 for a Mac Mini? :confused: :eek: I mean if there is a way they go together, I want one. But I don't understand how they do. Can I make a PS3 belong with a Quad G5 too?

Had saved $600 to spend on a PS3. Was interested in only 1 game. Meanwhile, encoding video on my iBook G4 took 1 hour for a 30 min video. Decided to spend the $600 on a C2D mini, so now it takes 15 minutes to encode a 30 min video (for iPod that is), not to mention I have disk space for some small video editing projects (I was using my iBook, but disk space became less and less as I filled it up with other stuff).

I use my mini almost every day. I doubt that would've been the case for the PS3...

On my new low-paying IT job (I earn less than half of what I used to), I can only afford this or that, not both...

Multimedia
Mar 23, 2007, 03:21 PM
Had saved $600 to spend on a PS3. Was interested in only 1 game. Meanwhile, encoding video on my iBook G4 took 1 hour for a 30 min video. Decided to spend the $600 on a C2D mini, so now it takes 15 minutes to encode a 30 min video (for iPod that is), not to mention I have disk space for some small video editing projects (I was using my iBook, but disk space became less and less as I filled it up with other stuff).

I use my mini almost every day. I doubt that would've been the case for the PS3...

On my new low-paying IT job (I earn less than half of what I used to), I can only afford this or that, not both...I think you're saying that INSTEAD of the money you had saved for a PS3 INSTEAD you bought a Mac Mini. But Mac mini is not C2D you know unless you put your own C2D processor in there. Did you do that? Am I reading you right now?

Jim Campbell
Mar 23, 2007, 07:20 PM
I can guarantee you it looks great when it leaves the post production house—I work at the company where it's onlined. I think Sci-Fi just tends to look **** on any provider.

Well, that's fair enough! As long as it's not just some bizarre thing that's happening in my head ...

Cheers!

Jim