advice the best looking SD movies...

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dmm219, Apr 14, 2009.

  1. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    I hope somebody could provide some insight on this, before I go and spend extra money to find out...

    What provids the better picture quality on a 1080i set?

    An SD movie/episode, bought off of itunes, and unconverted on the ATV?


    Ripping the DVD version via handbrake, and then upconverting on the ATV?

    I've heard that the itunes SD versions tend to be inferior to what you can achieve by ripping the DVD. Is this true?

  2. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    I've only purchased two individual episodes of two different TV shows, both in SD, so I don't have a lot of experience. But my DVD rips of TV shows look a hell of a lot better than the iTunes offerings. This could be due to the shows I bought, though. Neither of them come in great quality even when I watch the broadcast.

    The real question is why spend the money for stuff you already own. Just rip and encode your own DVDs. Yeah it takes time, but it's a lot cheaper than buying it all over again.
  3. dmm219 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    Well, the reason I ask, is because I'd like to grab the Blue Planet BBC series. It is now available via itunes in SD. However, for something like Blue planet (in a similar vein as Planet Earth), I would like it to look as good as possible. It was not shot in HD so I am not ever expecting HD quality. However, I would like something like this to look as good as possible.

    Its actually a little bit cheaper via itunes, but I could probably grab a used DVD for even less.

    This is a case, where, for picture quality sake, I am willing to buy the actual media and rip IF the quality will exceed what I can get off of Itunes...
  4. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Sep 5, 2003
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Get the PAL version on DVD and copy it with HAndbrake with ATV preset with quality at 62%, you will not be dissapointed, same quality as the DVD.

    Cheers Ed
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Well, I can't speak to the quality of specific titles, but there are other reasons to buy physical media: movies and TV shows come with DRM. Apple's music offerings are now DRM-free, but they are still compressed, and I rip most of my stuff to Apple Lossless.

    If you buy the DVDs, they are yours to bring over to a friend's house, for example. No such luck with downloads.
  6. hexonxonx macrumors 601

    Jul 4, 2007
    Denver Colorado
    Remember that allot of the "quality" difference that you will notice is due to the higher resolutions that your computer monitor is capable of. Some of the iTunes SD shows are obviously set in a smaller resolution so they will appear to be grainey and low quality. HDTV sets are the same way. If you set your monitor at a smaller resolution, they will appear allot better. This is why movies and TV shows will be crystal clear on an iPod or iPhone. As a test, I purchased the iTunes versions of all of the same movies that I already had on DVD and the quality on the iTunes purchases were identical. One example was Easy Rider. It looks great on my old Sony Trinitron TV (I don't have an HDTV) but on my 23"ACD, it looks somewhat grainey, same with the iTunes copy. Side by side, they look identical.

    HD movies are always in a higer resolution so they will always look clear on your computers monitor. Remember, it's all about resolution.
  7. reverie macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    iTunes SD can be equal to DVD resolution, but it depends on the title. A DVD typically has a 300,000 px resolution (vertical*horizontal resolution), while iTunes SD offerings have varying resolutions between 100.000 px and 400.000 px (there are actually SD shows on iTunes that look better than DVD, e.g. LOST). You really have to watch the preview and use the screen grabber tool to measure if you're not sure of the size on iTunes (cmd-shift-4).

    I just checked "The Blue Planet" on iTunes and it seems to be in 640x360 or about 200.000 px, which is not as high as the DVD resolution. So the DVD picture is probably richer but from what I can see the iTunes version is pretty and perfectly watchable.

    Other criteria would be:
    - The data rate. DVDs usually have 4-5 MBit/s in MPEG2. iTunes has 1.5-2 MBit/s in MPEG 4 which equals 3-5 MBit/s of the older MPEG2 codec. From my watching experience, iTunes is slightly more likely to show you artefacts than DVDs, but I have a suspicion that this depends more on how much care the producers put into converting the material than the actual data rate. No certain conclusions can be made for your show.
    - This show has a very impressive soundtrack, and iTunes usually doesn't offer sourround sound.
    - iTunes is only half the price of the DVD.
    - according to Wikipedia the DVD comes with a bunch of bonus material. You may like to research how significant they are.

    In the end you should opt for the DVD if you want the better quality and for iTunes if you like the savings and convenience of iTunes. For future purchases: Always check the preview on iTunes.

    DVDs have a copy protection and it's either illegal or a breach of contract to copy them. It's also quite a bit of work.

    Not entirely true. You can bring iTunes downloads on your notebook, iPhone or iPod (with video cable) or on any type of media like a burnt DVD-Rom or USB stick. If you don't bring your own device all you need to remember is putting in your password into your friend's iTunes before you watch the movie and delete it after you've watched it. This is perfectly doable, and legal/allowed under Apple's terms.
  8. eddyg macrumors 6502

    Sep 5, 2003
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Not at all true - resolution is just one aspect of a HD show, the other two, framerate and compression are just as important.

    Low framerate (e.g. 24fps) and fast action will blur and/or jump, look for 60 or 50fps. Too much compression will cause macro-blocking, where you get lego blocks appearing, usually in darker areas of the screen, you should see none if compressed properly.

    A properly compressed SD show will far outshine an over-compressed HD show regardless of resolution. The resolution really only comes into play on static shots.

    Cheers, Ed.
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    Not in the USA. Purchased DVDs can be backed up for archival purposes.

    Are you kidding?

    Yeah, until you reach your 5 computer limit. No thanks. Apple and the studios are losing sales to me because of their DRM (imposed by the studios).
  10. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    So you chastise about ripping a DVD you bought but not about authorizing a computer you don't own to play your content? I'm hardly a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure Apple's TOS state that downloads are for your personal use. I don't think authorizing your buddy's computer to play your content counts as your personal use. Having them over your place to watch your purchases on your computer/TV, sure. Authorizing someone else's computer? I doubt it.

    Regardless, from a practical standpoint even if you delete the file after to clear your conscience, you still have to use up one of your authorizations. DRM, no matter how little onerous it may seem, is still DRM. And if you are going to have to take a device or a disc you burned over to your friend's house and then jump through some DRM hoops, you may as well take the DVD you purchased. I'm already in my car and on my way by the time you copy the file to your flash drive.

    Bottom line: DVD = equal or better quality, the ability to rip and encode for playback on your computer, ATV, iPod, etc. (at a quality you get to choose), essentially no real DRM barriers, and a disc you own in perpetuity. iTMS download = convenience, and perhaps price in some cases.
  11. NightStorm macrumors 68000

    Jan 26, 2006
    Whitehouse, OH
    Correct; you can make an exact duplicate of the DVD, copy protection included. (Edit: Even this has been challenged as a number of companies have tried, unsuccessfully, to release a product that maintains the copy protection while allowing a user to transfer a physical DVD to a computer. I know of one hardware product, name escaping me at the moment, that I believe has been successful with this approach).

    In general, I'd say SD rips from Handbrake (using latest Universal or AppleTV presets) will yield a better end result than purchasing from iTunes. You get a higher resolution and DD5.1 (there are a few iTS films that include DD as well). That said, the studios have access to sources that are much higher in quality than a DVD, so they could produce a better quality encoding if they wanted to.
  12. reverie macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    Okay, says it's a gray area and hasn't been tested in the courts.

    From your original comment it was not clear that you were only talking about archiving. Using ripped DVDs to make copies for your iPod or Apple TV is certainly not allowed.

    Well you probably got used to it, but it is still a hassle. It takes a couple of minutes to put in the DVD and set up the software, then you have to wait for quite some time until it's ripped. I also had a lot of issues with MacTheRipper being too old to be useful and the new HandBrake/VLC combo crashing on my iMac G5, so I gave up on DVD ripping, but your setup is probably trouble-free. Still there is this annoying question: Am I going to watch this movie tonight or am going to rip it first? You can't do both. Quite a bummer when an entertainment product turns into work.

    That's why I mentioned that you have to remove your password from your friend's iTunes (you can also do that back at home from your own iTunes). The 5 computer limit applies to how many computers can be authorized to show your content at the same time. The total number of computers is unlimited, as long as you remember to clean up behind yourself.
  13. reverie macrumors regular

    Nov 21, 2006
    Berlin, Germany
    I think it's the exact same legal situation as with DVDs as long as you don't break the copy protection and your friend is actually your friend. You don't have the right to lend out DVDs to people you hardly know either. I might be wrong though, maybe you have some sources?

    I do know though that Apple's TOS allows me to have content on one device from up to 5 different iTunes accounts (not to be confused with the other rule we were talking about), which would only make sense if I either had lots of iTunes accounts myself (for some weird reason), or I am allowed to bring content other people bought--which by law (in most countries) would be friends or family.

    I'm deleting my password to take that computer off my 5 computer list, see above. This way I will still have the same number of authorizations as I had before I went.

    Sounds like you're ideologic about it. You probably wouldn't buy on iTunes even if the quality was better then on DVD? That's fine but not what the thread was about.

    My iPhone was already in my pocket before you even thought about bringing the movie. Lucky my friend already has the right cable at home... BTW I don't have a car either... ;-) I realize it's easier to bring a DVD (never said otherwise) but it's very doable to bring an iTunes video.
  14. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Touché :)

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