hypothesis: explanation for why old Apple TV can't rent TV shows

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Phantom Gremlin, Sep 7, 2010.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
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    Tualatin, Oregon
    #1
    I'm not an expert on Apple TV or on video. But I think there's a simple explanation as to why Apple won't allow rental of TV shows on the old Apple TV, only on the new version. I've mentioned this on a few threads, but I don't think I've heard back from an "expert", which is why I'm creating this new thread.

    Most TV such as sitcoms and talk shows is shot with video cameras, not on film. Which means it's 1080i/60Hz or 720p/60Hz. Both of these can be converted to 720p/30Hz relatively simply. This means 1280 x 720 x 30 frames per second.

    But the old Apple TV can't do 1280x720x30. The hardware isn't capable. It can only do 1280x720x24. Which is fine for movies (usually 24 Hz) but not for TV.

    So now everyone says "but my old Apple TV can display TV shows just fine". To which I ask: "are you sure you're looking at H.264 at 1280x720x30?" I hypothesize that the answer is NO. I claim you're looking at something with less resolution. For example, you could be looking at 720x400x30, which the old Apple TV will display just fine. BTW there is an app called MediaInfo (on sourceforge) that will tell you this info.

    So, my hypothesis is that, going forward, Apple wants to encode all rental TV shows in H.264 at 1280x720x30, and the old Apple TV hardware won't support it. Hence the announced limitation. In order to support the older Apple TV hardware for TV rental, Apple would need to maintain two separate encodings of the shows (lower res for old hardware, higher res for new hardware), and Apple has decided NOT to go through that effort.

    Recent Macs won't have any problems displaying H.264 at 720p at 30 frames per second. That's also in the technical specifications for the iPad and the latest iPhone and the latest iPod touch. The old Apple TV simply loses out.

    If you email Steve about his, he would probably reply "just buy a new Apple TV, it's only $99."
     
  2. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2008
    #2
    Well...no. There have been HD(720p) TV Shows on iTunes/the AppleTV classic for ages. There are (afaik) encoded at 23.976fps.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    If you know that there's a program called MediaInfo that shows video file information then you really should have used it before making ridiculous claims that current Apple HD content is anything but 1280x720@24fps.

    That's just not gonna happen as people will still be able to buy TV show from iTunes to play on there old ATV's, so Apple isn't going to change the frame rate as they would lose customers who can no longer play the content on there old hardware.


    I suspect there is no hardware reason why TV rentals wouldn't be possible on the old ATV apart from the fact that Apple just wants to sell you the new hardware. Simple as that.
     
  4. macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    I would have guessed the component video out was the reason. Can you imagine how fast they would be on the torrent site? No removing commercials either. New box being hdmi only stops this. Concession the the video people.

    Just my guess.:confused:
     
  5. macrumors 68000

    rorschach

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2003
    #5
    Purchased HD TV show: 4,019 Kbps, 1280x720 (16:9) at 23.976 fps
    [​IMG]

    Rented HD TV show: 3,496 Kbps, 1280x720 (16:9) at 23.976 fps
    [​IMG]
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    But there's nothing stopping that from happening at the moment on the current ATV. If someone wants to copy the content they'll just buy it and do that instead of rent it.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

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    Tualatin, Oregon
    #7
    Yes, I know. But what about shows that are done using video, rather than film? How does the conversion from 30->24 go? Just drop every fifth frame? Doesn't that cause judder?

    I'll never buy DRMed video, but I've downloaded free stuff from Apple. E.g. Chuck pilot is 24fps but (according to pundits in AVSforum) it was shot in 35mm film, not video.

    I also have other free TV shows from Apple (that were probably shot in video) and they are 30fps (e.g. Wizards of Waverly Place pilot) but that is SD not HD.

    I didn't say anything about current content being 30 fps. I hypothesized that going forward (e.g. soon after the new Apple TV ships) the TV rental content will switch to 30 fps (if show is video based).

    Well, you may be right. It would look bad if Apple completely orphaned all those older Apple TVs. But maybe we'll see something like this (for video based material):

    purchase (playable on old Apple TV): 960 x 540 x 30
    rental (playable on everything but old Apple TV): 1280 x 720 x 30

    Yes, I know, that directly contradicts my previous speculation about there being only one encoding for all devices. What I'm speculating now is the encoding will be different for purchase vs rental (and will of course be different for film vs video, since film content must remain at 24 fps).

    Yours is the cynical explanation. I may be grasping at straws, but I was trying to find some sort of technical explanation.
     
  8. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2010
    #8
    History with Apple has shown that "technical explanations" often have nothing to do with it. Remember MMS on the original iPhone? Background wallpaper on the iPhone 3G? Gamecenter on an iPhone 3G (yet surprisingly on a 2nd generation iPod Touch)?

    Apple doesn't like supporting older hardware too much when new stuff comes out. They drop support and move on.

    I can't say I fault them for that, b/c you can't support everything forever, and best to have a line in the sand at some point. But some of the lines seem ridiculously arbitrary and downright illogical.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Err... Thats exactly what you said, and I quote from your original post:-

    Well we know we're not looking at a 1280x720@30fps file because all Apple HD content is 1280x720x24@24fps not 720x400x30fps that you think it is.

    I highly doubt Apple are going to keep two different version of each video, one for purchase and one for rental as this effectively doubles the storage space that Apple needs to keep all the files.

    No mine is an explanation from a business point of view, Apple are in business for one reason only, to make money and the way they do that is by selling you there latest product. If they added the rental and Netflix feature to the old ATV then less people would buy the new one:D
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2007
    #10
    I don't disagree with you, but we are talking a $99 hardware device here. I think Apple's concerns from a business point of view is that the new device probably drives revenue from Netflix and others to Apple. I don't entirely see why they wouldn't do a software upgrade to permit Apple content going to the old ATV, but it would require a programming and support investment they probably aren't willing to make any more. Maintaining legacy support on the other hand doesn't cost them anything, since the software is already written.
     
  11. macrumors member

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    Mar 21, 2009
    #11
    The old platform was more versatile (less constraining). The new ATV "forces" people towards renting = cashcow.
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    It's really a win win situation for Apple. Apple knows that the new ATV is priced at a point where anybody interested in using the TV rental service is just going to buy the new ATV for $99, so Apple gets money from both the sale of the new ATV and the rental of the shows. On the other hand if they made a rental update for the old ATV then nobody who wants to rent shows would need to buy the new hardware and Apple would lose out on any profits on the new hardware by only making a profit on sales of the shows.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    Huh? I said no such thing in my original post, I used an example of 720x400x30, which I certainly don't consider to be HD. I didn't meant to imply HD when I used that resolution. That's basically DVD resolution, which nobody considers to be HD. I'm sorry if I confused you with those numbers, which were off the top of my head. I should have posted the details from an actual show.

    No, that's emphatically not true. Not everything that Apple calls "HD" is 24fps.

    I've emphasized over and over the distinction between video based material and film based material. Even today, there is stuff on iTunes that is 30fps video that Apple is calling HD.

    I now have used an actual free download from the Apple store to make my point. (I should have used a concrete example in my first post.) The upcoming fall season means that Apple is hosting a plethora of free material to choose from, so you can download this and see for yourself.

    Attached is an example of 30fps material that Apple calls HD. Apple is downrezzing it to 960x720x30 (presumably because of the limitations of the old Apple TV).

    Edit: well, I see you're from the UK so maybe you can't download this show. But anyone in the USA can.
     

    Attached Files:

  14. macrumors newbie

    jenniferlengvet

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2010
    #14
    Yeah I also agree coz old version was quite good.
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2008
    #15
    Different OS.

    Apple seems to support new features on old hardware all the time. So don't think they are doing it on purpose.

    For streaming need new software to receive it. New software is on new OS.

    It wouldn't surprise me if Apple later on made this feature available to (old) ATVs.
     
  16. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
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    #16
    I'm not talking about your 720x400x30 example, I'm talking about the fact that you clearly ask:- "are you sure you're looking at H.264 at 1280x720x30?" That question makes the assumption and implies that people think that Apples HD content is 1280x720@30fps when we know full well that it could never be that due to the hardware limitations of the ATV. I know from experience as I own a ton of Apple HD content that it's actually 1280x720@24fps(well most as we'll discuss in a moment:D)

    I agree with you that TV is filmed at 30fps and film at 24fps. I think what you're trying to say is that Apple will be changing it's HD content from 24fps to 30fps to preserve the original frame rate but I have over 10 Blu-ray TV box sets and they are all encoded at 24fps, so in the real world if the Blu-ray producers aren't bothered about converting the source video to 24fps for release then why would Apple suddenly care and change there frame rate.

    I suggest that the file you've shown is a very rare case(maybe due to the fact it's a free preview), as I said I have a ton of Apple HD content and it's all 1280x720@24fps. Finding one file that doesn't conform to that does not mean that Apple is going to change all it's future content.

    You even said in a pervious post that you've never purchased iTunes DRM'd content and what little free stuff you had was SD anyway.
    So the fact that you're never purchased any Apple HD content means you're basing your whole argument on free content that could be of a lower resolution than normal anyway.

    If Apple did start to give the older ATV users different files, which I highly doubt they would due to the extra storage space that they'd need, then why would they give the new ATV a 1280x720@30fps file and the old ATV a 960x720@30fps file when they could just as easily give the new ATV a 1280x720@30fps file and the old ATV a 1280x720@24fps file like we get now?

    If Apple starts giving me as a user of the old ATV a lower res file than the owners of the new ATV get then I'd never buy content from Apple again, and I suspect most users of the old ATV would feel the same.

    I think we may just have to agree to disagree about this topic:D
     
  17. thread starter macrumors regular

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    #17
    Apple has constantly increased the resolution of their encodings. I predict that eventually they will get to 1080p. In attempting to learn a little more about the various resolutions, I found this article. See the attachment for a snippet (including a table) from the article. Because the article is 3 y/o, it shows old devices with a max resolution of 640x480. Should owners of old iPods and old iPhones also "never buy content from Apple again" just because newer devices support higher res?

    We've pretty much beat this topic to death.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    No what I'm saying is that at the moment I pay £2.49($2.99) for a HD TV Show that is 1280x720@24fps if what you're saying happens then I'll be paying the same price and receiving a file that's only 960x720@30fps.

    What you're saying about the owners of old iPod's and iPhone's not buying content is a bad example because those devices were never designed to play HD content so the owners wouldn't be buying HD content to start with, so nothing changes for them. It's not the fact that a new device supports a higher resolution, that's great if Apple want to make better resolution files for there new product that's fine, but in doing so they shouldn't cripple and lower the resolution of the file that I'm able to purchase for my older hardware.

    We can always beat a bit more out of the topic yet:D
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2010
    Location:
    Norway
    #19
    I'm confused. can I rent series or not in the old apple tv? and the new rents set down on the old apple tv? $ 0.99 for TV series and 4.99 for HD movies?
     

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