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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:45 AM   #1
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iTunes 1080p Content Comes Close to Blu-ray Quality, But Can't Quite Match




Last week, we took a look at the compression being employed by Apple with its new 1080p content on the iTunes Store, a feature that has allowed Apple to increase file sizes by only 15-25% compared to 720p even as the number of pixels have more than doubled. A number of commenters were interested in seeing how 1080p iTunes content compares to Blu-ray, and Ars Technica has now returned with a new analysis looking at the relative quality of those two sources.




Comparison of color and detail in iTunes 1080p (left) and Blu-ray (right) formats
The report offers a number of blown-up comparison shots, finding that the iTunes Store content generally compares fairly well to Blu-ray content, although it does struggle a bit more with bright highlights, scenes with high detail and noise levels, and dark gradients.
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I was surprised to see how close the iTunes 1080p download comes to Blu-ray, considering that it's only a fraction of the file size. And let's be honest: there are lots of Blu-ray titles that look much worse than this iTunes download. But despite an impressive effort by Apple, Blu-ray still reigns king when it comes to image quality. And unlike iTunes titles, BRDs can have uncompressed multi-channel audio, multiple audio language options, and special features.



Comparison of dark gradient handling in iTunes 1080p (top) and Blu-ray (bottom)
(Brightness enhanced for clearer demonstration)
Apple's move to 1080p video content in the iTunes Store is part of a significant shift to higher-resolution offerings, pairing the new new content with movie support for iTunes in the Cloud and new 1080p hardware in the new iPad and Apple TV set to debut on Friday.

Article Link: iTunes 1080p Content Comes Close to Blu-ray Quality, But Can't Quite Match
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:46 AM   #2
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Apple response: "Watch it from farther away."
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:47 AM   #3
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This isn't surprising. It's a matter of balancing download size and screen quality. I think they have done a decent job of that.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:47 AM   #4
nickn
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Bull... I'll admit the iTMS videos look nice, but there is no way they can be compared to blu ray quality. What are the files encoded at? 3-5 Mbps? Blu rays get up to about 40Mbps! That's a huge reduction of data.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:47 AM   #5
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For the vast majority of people out there this will not be an issue.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:48 AM   #6
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Considering I gain 'get it right now' and lose 'annoying menus/trailers/FBI warnings' I consider this very slight loss of quality a very fair trade.


I tend to rent movies instead of owning anyway...but IF I ever buy, this seems like a fair trade-off.


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Originally Posted by nickn View Post
Bull... I'll admit the iTMS videos look nice, but there is no way they can be compared to blu ray quality.
The article full of screen shots seems to indicate that yes, they CAN be compared. Blu-Ray wins, sure. But the comparison is not ridiculous.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:48 AM   #7
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At 8 feet and a 50" screen I doubt most people will notice.

Did they mention renting 1080P content?
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:49 AM   #8
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So, so close.

And who knows? With improvements with encoding and codec handling, may get closer?

My verdict: Close enough for my 35 year-old eyes.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:52 AM   #9
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For me I would actually rank audio quality slightly more important than video quality. Lack of HD audio on itunes means i'll never get movies from them. Of course DRM has something to do with that as well.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:53 AM   #10
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The other question is how does iTunes 1080P compare to VUDU 1080P HDX? I've been using VUDU instead of Apple / iTunes because it's 1080P HDX was close enough to Blu-Ray. If Apple / iTunes is no better than VUDU that's not a lot of reason to move. Not to mention VUDU / Wal-Mart allowing you to pay $5 to convert your existing Blu-Ray (even those without digital copy included) to a 1080P version that can be used with VUDU / Ultraviolet. Apple needs to offer a match service for movies.

Likewise Apple should take the opportunity to increase the quality (and sound options) be it streaming or perhaps download only of their 1080P offerings to rival not only VUDU but Blu-Ray itself so as to lure more people away from physical media and their competitors. Now if Hollywood would even allow it that's another story.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:53 AM   #11
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In darker scenes it is very obvious. Period.

Most might not care because renting for 3.99 vs buying a blu-ray or renting one/netflixing to their house is a better option.

But the quality is definitely obvious to those that demand the best on both video and audio fronts.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:54 AM   #12
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but you don't get to download a Blu-Ray movie! sync it to your devices etc
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:54 AM   #13
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While the video might be close to Blu-ray quality, no mention about only having DD 5.1. Having a moderately good sound system that can handle DTS-MA sounds quite a bitter better than standard DD 5.1 (in my opinion). This is why I'll still prefer buy/Redbox blu-rays.

On the flip side, if it's a movie that I don't care so much about the sound/audio quality, I'll stick with a convenient iTunes rental on my already outdated AppleTV 2nd Gen.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:54 AM   #14
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this is amazing considering that the iTunes files are about 8-10 times smaller than the Blu-Rays. My guess is that from a standard viewing distance most people would not be able to distinguish. Audio could be a different story depending on how nice your speakers are.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by archer75 View Post
For me I would actually rank audio quality slightly more important than video quality. Lack of HD audio on itunes means i'll never get movies from them. Of course DRM has something to do with that as well.
as if Blu-ray wasn't content protected...
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:55 AM   #16
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I'll take mobility, streaming and the ability to play 10 hours of movies on a plane with 90 percent quality anyday
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jontech View Post
I'll take mobility, streaming and the ability to play 10 hours of movies on a plane with 90 percent quality anyday
I think most people would
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:57 AM   #18
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Also depends on the Blu-Ray, some look much better than others.

Are they saying that iTunes 1080p does not match the best Blu-Ray or the worst? Or the average?

Like someone said before, most people would not see the difference. I could not see much difference in the examples in the article: http://arstechnica.com/apple/guides/...y-shootout.ars even
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:57 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samcraig View Post
In darker scenes it is very obvious. Period
how often do you stare at a dark corner though?
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:57 AM   #20
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I don't think anyone should really be complaining. I'm VERY impressed. The title alone praises the quality, to be honest. "Close to bluray quality"... While in digital format and in an impressively compressed file size? I feel it's a win on Apple's part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nickn View Post
Bull... I'll admit the iTMS videos look nice, but there is no way they can be compared to blu ray quality. What are the files encoded at? 3-5 Mbps? Blu rays get up to about 40Mbps! That's a huge reduction of data.
EXACTLY. Which is why you should be praising the quality given the reduction of data. (IMO)
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:58 AM   #21
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Last week I bought some movies off iTunes that were 720p. Will Apple be offering 1080p versions of everything now, or just new stuff?
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:59 AM   #22
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I like Apple, but their video technology has been dancing to an ever-more-eccentric drummer since BluRay appeared on the scene. At least they took a large step closer to 2006 with this.

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Originally Posted by slapple View Post
Last week I bought some movies off iTunes that were 720p. Will Apple be offering 1080p versions of everything now, or just new stuff?
I wish they'd offer upgrades for already-owned videos from their store.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:59 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slapple View Post
Last week I bought some movies off iTunes that were 720p. Will Apple be offering 1080p versions of everything now, or just new stuff?
its hit and miss


Most of the Disney Titles are 1080p and I was able to download them, but title like the Lion King and Winnie the Pooh are 720p, I would guess they will all be 1080p, just takes time
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 11:59 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slapple View Post
Last week I bought some movies off iTunes that were 720p. Will Apple be offering 1080p versions of everything now, or just new stuff?
some older material might get updated, however for now I think it will mainly be new content.
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Old Mar 14, 2012, 12:00 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slapple View Post
Last week I bought some movies off iTunes that were 720p. Will Apple be offering 1080p versions of everything now, or just new stuff?
It's probably a 'rollout' process. I didn't hear that anywhere, but I think it's a pretty good assumption.
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