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Old Mar 28, 2010, 11:21 PM   #1
Whackintosh
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Is there a chance of a firmware upgrade making ATV capable of 1080P?

Or can this only be done in the hardware domain? I'm fence-sitting in a big way on getting one of these, but I worry that I would eventually need a new unit once Apple finally enter the world of 1080P (which is quite inevitable, I hope).
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 04:56 AM   #2
playalistic
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This would most definitely have to be a hardware upgrade as the ATV's CPU is puny.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 05:13 AM   #3
wysinawyg
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Originally Posted by playalistic View Post
This would most definitely have to be a hardware upgrade as the ATV's CPU is puny.
Not sure thats really true is it?

I thought hacked AppleTVs could (choppily) play 1080p video, and AFAIK hacked AppleTVs don't use GPU acceleration.

In theory it wouldn't surprise me if it was possible, but having said that I really wouldn't expect them to do so. To the extent any real development time is being put in I would have thought it would be towards an iPad-esque hardware implementation of AppleTV (i.e. iPad chips in an AppleTV box) rather than trying to squeeze every last ounce of power out of what is a fairly old set of consumer hardware.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 05:45 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Whackintosh View Post
Or can this only be done in the hardware domain? I'm fence-sitting in a big way on getting one of these, but I worry that I would eventually need a new unit once Apple finally enter the world of 1080P (which is quite inevitable, I hope).
Short answer is that the current AppleTV can't do 1080p in a meaningful way, but it also doesn't matter.

1080p may be inevitable, but it's not going to be here in a big way four at least five years. By that time, you'd need a new one anyway.

Digital distribution hasn't even gotten to full-quality 720p yet, let alone 1080p, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the unreasonable download times. It would take three hours on a 12Mbit connection to download 1080p content at a meaningful bitrate (i.e., near Blu-ray quality), and that's both a faster connection and more time than most people have.

Content providers need to switch to higher quality 720p downloads before they think about going 1080p. More pixels won't improve anything if they're still provided at sub-cable bitrates (which are themselves pathetic). Once the cable/satellite providers actually start providing real HD, you can expect digital distribution to catch up when average broadband speeds improve.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 07:33 PM   #5
wombat888
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Originally Posted by wysinawyg View Post
Not sure thats really true is it?

I thought hacked AppleTVs could (choppily) play 1080p video, and AFAIK hacked AppleTVs don't use GPU acceleration.
You just disagreed and agreed in two sentences.

Any CPU can play 1080p "choppily." But why would anybody want choppy 1080p? The point of 1080p is a better picture and better viewing experience.

And I agree with the poster who said it doesn't matter that much. Streaming (eg Netflix) or quick-downloaded (eg iTunes) HD is going to be in 720p or 1080i for a long time.
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Old Mar 29, 2010, 08:01 PM   #6
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Unless there is some magic voodoo not being used in the three-year old Apple TV GPU, there’s no chance.

As for 1080p, the Apple TV outputs 1080p. It just doesn’t play back content at 1080p or anything above 720p25.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 11:10 AM   #7
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I would settle for just 720p30 which *is* possible via a software update.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 05:19 PM   #8
donbadman
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Originally Posted by wysinawyg View Post
Not sure thats really true is it?

I thought hacked AppleTVs could (choppily) play 1080p video, and AFAIK hacked AppleTVs don't use GPU acceleration.

In theory it wouldn't surprise me if it was possible, but having said that I really wouldn't expect them to do so. To the extent any real development time is being put in I would have thought it would be towards an iPad-esque hardware implementation of AppleTV (i.e. iPad chips in an AppleTV box) rather than trying to squeeze every last ounce of power out of what is a fairly old set of consumer hardware.
It is a fairly old set of consumer hardware that was released quite some time after Mr Jobs stated 2005 would be the year of HD... I'm still waiting for that one, do Apple actually have a method to distribute 1080p content?
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 05:30 PM   #9
donbadman
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Short answer is that the current AppleTV can't do 1080p in a meaningful way, but it also doesn't matter.

1080p may be inevitable, but it's not going to be here in a big way four at least five years. By that time, you'd need a new one anyway.

Digital distribution hasn't even gotten to full-quality 720p yet, let alone 1080p, for a lot of reasons, not the least of which being the unreasonable download times. It would take three hours on a 12Mbit connection to download 1080p content at a meaningful bitrate (i.e., near Blu-ray quality), and that's both a faster connection and more time than most people have.

Content providers need to switch to higher quality 720p downloads before they think about going 1080p. More pixels won't improve anything if they're still provided at sub-cable bitrates (which are themselves pathetic). Once the cable/satellite providers actually start providing real HD, you can expect digital distribution to catch up when average broadband speeds improve.
I have to disagree and state it is the American market that is holding back digital content distribution. I've had 24Mbit connection here in the UK for the past 6 years which is perfectly fine to stream 1080p. I've been watching streaming 1080p from Vimeo and other providers for ages.

Having said that the UK governments best pledge is to roll out a 2Mbit connection nationwide by 2012, which to me is an absolute case of total short sightedness on the part of the politicians and civil servants. We should be rolling out at least 100Mbit to homes by 2012, we like to think we are ahead in the UK and the US when in actual fact our infrastructure is shameful (to say the least) when looking at other precedents for technological infrastructure.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 06:10 PM   #10
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I don't know the UK's situation enough to comment. The US is hindered by two things:

1 - older infrastructure - we have "good enough" cable TV providing broadband to many places, which reduces incentive to deploy full fiber solutions etc. If you ask 100 Americans if their cable modems are slow or fast, most of them will probably still say they're pretty fast.

2 - the U.S. is large, with many areas sparsely populated. Comparisons with Japan or Germany need to take this into account. Comparisons with Australia and Russia are more meaningful as far as geography.

I have 25Mbps FIOS and am pretty pleased with it, but it didn't change my life when I switched to it from 5Mbps cable modem.
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Old Mar 30, 2010, 07:35 PM   #11
tom1971
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Originally Posted by Whackintosh View Post
Or can this only be done in the hardware domain? I'm fence-sitting in a big way on getting one of these, but I worry that I would eventually need a new unit once Apple finally enter the world of 1080P (which is quite inevitable, I hope).
You need a decoder card. check this link for more info.
The card itself costs about 25 uSD, and playback using XBMC is pretty good.
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Old Mar 31, 2010, 02:01 AM   #12
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I have to disagree and state it is the American market that is holding back digital content distribution. I've had 24Mbit connection here in the UK for the past 6 years which is perfectly fine to stream 1080p.
And I've had a 32Mbit connection for just as long here in the United States. It's not indicative of the overall population.

The country with the highest average broadband speed in the world is South Korea, according to Akamai, with an average speed of 15Mb/s. The UK average is 3.6Mb/s, slightly below the US average of 3.9Mb/s. The UK isn't in the top 10 for either speed or penetration.
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I've been watching streaming 1080p from Vimeo and other providers for ages.
That's hardly the kind of quality that justifies 1080p labeling. Vimeo's 1080p is not at a bitrate that takes advantage of the format. It runs at about 8Mb/s...about 1-2Mb/s higher than iTunes 720p content (all things being equal, the bitrate needs to be double 720p for the same quality level at 1080p resolution). That bitrate is so low that it makes more practical sense to use 720p--you'd get much higher overall quality out of it.

This is exactly what I mean about marketing push dominating over actual quality.
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We should be rolling out at least 100Mbit to homes by 2012, we like to think we are ahead in the UK and the US when in actual fact our infrastructure is shameful (to say the least) when looking at other precedents for technological infrastructure.
Such a goal is not feasible or practical, even in a space as small as the UK. Getting 100% national coverage at 2Mbit/s is actually fairly ambitious.
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