Amazon Prime - Airplay to Apple TV quality good?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dmk1974, Jan 19, 2014.

  1. dmk1974 macrumors 68000

    dmk1974

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #1
    I subscribe to Amazon Prime and it's too bad that they don't have an app/channel for the Apple TV. I have an Apple TV and iPad/iPhone and see now that I can do the Airplay workaround to watch Amazon Prime videos on my TV. But is the picture quality really that good? Or should I just get a $50 Roku box and dedicate it for just watching Amazon Prime on my TV (assuming the Roku has better picture quality for Prime)?
     
  2. niteflyr macrumors 6502a

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    Southern Cal
    #2
    The airplay to ATV, from Amazon Instant Video app on my iPad, is very good.
     
  3. wickedpapercut macrumors member

    wickedpapercut

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2005
    #3
    If I were you, I'd just experiment with the devices you have and decide if the picture quality is acceptable.

    I have the same setup - ATV, iPad, Amazon Prime. My wife and I watched "Jack Reacher" from Prime over the weekend and the quality of the picture was fine. Was it perfect? No. Some of the color gradients weren't smooth (banding) and the colors seemed to be a bit flat, but overall, the slight degradation in picture quality didn't affect viewing at all.

    You can decide if you want another box, additional wires, and another remote for improved picture quality.
     
  4. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68000

    dmk1974

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    #4
    To me the quality of sending it via Airplay isn't all that good.

    Looks like Apple has a pretty pricey adapter cable that can connect an iPad to an HDMI connection. Or maybe I should also experiment with connecting my kid's Kindle Fire HD to the TV to see how the Amazon Prime quality is on the TV.
     
  5. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

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    Feb 16, 2008
    #5
    I have used the Airplay feature built into the Amazon Instant Streaming app on my iPhone, and that quality has been pretty decent. Make sure you are using the Airplay feature of the Amazon app itself, not the "Airplay Mirroring" feature that sends everything on your iphone/ipad to the screen. The latter won't look good on a big 1080p tv, since it is just matching the resolution of your iDevice. The airplay built-in to the Amazon app (I think) essentially sends your Apple TV a link to the appropriate Amazon server, so it can stream directly at the appropriate resolution based on your Apple TV's internet bandwidth.

    Frankly, if the Airplay (using Amazon app) quality isn't good enough for you, it is likely not Airplay itself that is the bottleneck. It may be your internet connection or Amazon's servers, and hence using a hardwired HDMI cable likely wouldn't make much of a difference.

    I wouldn't bother with the Apple HDMI cable. I don't have that particular cable, but I have had the Apple Video (RCA) cables for previous generation of iPad iPhone (i.e.: the 30-pin connector to RCA). Generally speaking, those cables aren't as versatile as Airplay because they don't tend to support most apps on your iDevice. Usually it's just the "Videos", "Photos", and "YouTube" apps. Maybe Netflix as well (don't remember). I suppose you could buy and then return if it doesn't work, but I wouldn't hang my hopes on it.

    If you are going to be using Amazon Instant Streaming a lot, it's probably worth getting a Roku or a Blu-ray player that has it built-in, just for the convenience of not having to Airplay. I recommend the latter, as that gives you the added capability to play BD content, which the Roku does not.

    But, again, you may find that the picture quality is no better than using Airplay. I have a 2013 model Sony Blu-ray player that has Amazon Instant Streaming built in, and the video quality is good. But using my iPhone and Airplay yields the same video quality as far as I can tell.
     
  6. bobr1952 macrumors 68020

    bobr1952

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    Jan 21, 2008
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    Melbourne, FL
    #6
    I would use a dedicated device to stream Amazon videos--either a blu ray that supports it (I use my Sony Blu Ray) or Roku--also if you can wait I understand Amazon will be selling their own device in the future.
     
  7. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #7
    It's very good. The iDevice merely negotiates the connection for the ATV - it does not pass the video content through the iDevice on the way to the ATV. As said just above, if the picture quality is poor, it's not because of Airplay.
     
  8. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    Location:
    Torrance, CA
    #8
    I have never heard this before. I would really be interested if you have a link on Apple site or elsewhere that can give the details of this. I do understand this is how Chromcast works but not Apple TV.
     
  9. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    #9
    It is laid out in the developer documentation. The developer has the option of having their app use Airplay streaming which negotiates a direct connection and allows the user to use the iDevice for other things while watching the content on their tv with no intermediate decoding/re-encoding (they can also use this mode and NOT allow the user to leave the app - see Slingbox), they can use Airplay Mirroring which does in fact send what is displayed on the device's screen and will have lower quality and some lag, or they can choose not to offer Airplay at all. Full support has been the default option for some time now unless a developer explicitly opts out.
     
  10. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68000

    dmk1974

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    Sep 16, 2008
    #10
    Does it matter which device I Airplay from? I have a 1st gen iPad Mini and a iPhone 5s. I do not have the mirroring on though, but was just curious if one device would send a better picture to the Apple TV than the other. My assumption is that it should not matter (as long as mirroring is off).
     
  11. cdavis11 macrumors 6502

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    Aug 31, 2009
    #11
    My wife and I finally got around to watching the season 3 premier of Sherlock last night on Amazon. Streamed it from our older iPad 2 to the aTV and the quality was very good on my 50" plasma streaming on my 5Ghz only network.

    I'm really pleased with it.
     
  12. iMerik macrumors 6502

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    May 3, 2011
    Location:
    Upper Midwest
    #12
    Does Apple prevent Amazon Prime from being on the Apple TV? One of the reasons I don't own an Apple TV. Well, that and I love Plex, which runs very well on my Roku.
     
  13. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #13
    I understand there is a difference between Airplay and Airplay Mirroring. I was referring to your comment that after negotiating the connection the Apple TV streams directly from the Amazon Server not going thru the iPhone/iPad. I.E. They are no longer used. I tested this yesterday to see what all can be done with my iPad after the movie starts and it is free to do a number of things. However, if you close the Amazon App (not just leave but close it) the movie stops. Also, if you try to view another video from another App it takes over. So I still do not think it is streaming directly from Amazon Servers. But I still could be missing something.
     
  14. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #14
    Part of the requirement, again, if you read the developer apps, is that the app remain available to process inputs - so the app must remain running in order to keep aware of what the content is doing - this allows people to have a better experience by not needing to find the remote control to pause, fast forward, etc - they can do all of that by returning to the app controlling the stream.

    If you have a Netflix subscription you can check this yourself if you know how to monitor your connections on your router. Compare the connections to the ATV when streaming using the native app vs. using Airplay. You'll see that in both cases the ATV is connected directly to a remote server.
     
  15. dgalvan123 macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    By the way, the developer documentation on Airplay is here:
    https://developer.apple.com/airplay/

    I looked briefly but didn't find where it explicitly states that using non-mirroring Airplay provides a direct connection to the Apple TV. But I am convinced that is what is happening.
     
  16. d21mike macrumors 68040

    d21mike

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    #16
    Thanks for detailed explanation. When I was testing I also tested the NEW iCloud Support (play purchased movies from iCloud not on the device) that I believe also works the way you describe and it appears to work exactly the same. I.E. Close the App and it stops playing the movie.
     
  17. Shanghaichica macrumors 603

    Shanghaichica

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    #17
    In the UK we have lovefilm, which is amazon's instant video over here. I've air played from my iPad to Apple TV and streams are good and stable.
     
  18. cynics macrumors G3

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    Jan 8, 2012
    #18
    I think it's pretty obvious that the device is sending a link then the iDevice is merely acting as a remote.

    1. Quality between mirroring and AirPlay is night and day. Even if you are mirroring via HDMI you can see a difference.

    2. You can watch where the data is coming from via certain routers.

    3. Lag and buffering are an issue when mirroring on certain routers. Not the case with AirPlay.

    4. Battery life, comparing mirroring to AirPlay is also night and day.

    The device is a remote so closing, fwd, rwd, pausing the app does the same to the video. Certain apps are programmed to play in the background, such as YouTube, Pandora or Hulu. Others are not, such as Crunchyroll. Not sure about Amazon as I don't have it.
     
  19. joelshooty macrumors member

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    Dec 19, 2007
    #19
    The Amazon app allows Airplay to continue while it's in the background.

    But you are correct it's up to the developer of the app to enable that feature. Some good apps do (Amazon Instant Video, Plex, Netflix) while others do not (SlingPlayer is the only one that comes to my mind right now).
     
  20. Rigby, Jan 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

    Rigby macrumors 601

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    #20
    That's not how it works for non-Apple content. The difference between Airplay from the app and Airplay Mirroring is that in the latter case the iPad has to encode the iPad's screen content to H.264 in real time and send that to the ATV, whereas in the first case the iPad app will just stream the video from e.g. Amazon and simply forward the stream to the ATV without further processing. That's why the quality is better, and also why the iPad uses less battery in this mode.

    The only case where Apple currently directs the video stream directly to the ATV is if you do "Airplay from iCloud", e.g. when you Airplay a movie you own on iCloud to a friend's ATV.
     
  21. dmk1974 thread starter macrumors 68000

    dmk1974

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2008
    #21
    Last night I did a comparison streaming a show from Amazon Prime videos. Same TV was used. HDMI input for both connections. WiFi for both streams.

    1.) AppleTV AirPlay connected to iPad Mini using Amazon Video app (not mirrored).

    2.) Roku 2 using Amazon Video app

    Even after letting both buffer (Roku was actually very quick to do so), the picture quality of the Roku feed was much better than the AppleTV/Airplay feed. Which is kinda too bad because I'd prefer to save the $50 an not need the Roku. but since my 55" LCD is not a smart TV, I guess I have to keep the Roku around ONLY for the purpose of watching Amazon Prime videos.

    Sure wish they'd just have Amazon Prime Video on the AppleTV!!! Or my TiVo Mini. Or heck, even a Chromecast!
     
  22. zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #22
    Sorry you are mistaken. Try it for yourself and monitor the connections in both cases. After the Airplay connection is established the connection goes direct to the ATV without passing through the iDevice.
     
  23. Rigby macrumors 601

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    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #23
    I don't know what you monitored, but this is not technically possible for 3rd party apps (since the ATV has no way of authenticating itself as a playback device for protected 3rd party content such as Amazon's). So, unless you are talking about iCloud content, the video stream is relayed through the iOS device.
     
  24. antman2x2 macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    Its awesome!

    However if you're an AV enthusiast you're going to have a few gripes. But for the average user its awesome.
     
  25. zhenya, Jan 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2014

    zhenya macrumors 603

    zhenya

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    Jan 6, 2005
    #25
    Well, this is widely known in circles where the technical details of this is discussed, and I've looked at it numerous times myself watching the data stream be transferred from the iDevice (which likely handles authentication) and then hands off the stream directly to the ATV. With a decent router you can monitor this happening as the connection to say Amazon's or Netflix's CDN's are transferred from the iDevice to the ATV. Once that happens there is no longer a connection direct to the iDevice and you can see the bandwidth being used by the ATV but not the iDevice. It's pretty clear cut once you watch it actually happen.

    Update - it does definitely work this way for Netflix, YouTube, and HBO but it does not for Amazon. I'm not sure yet if this is because those apps are all also available on the ATV, or just how Amazon has configured their system. Need to look some more...

    Update 2: found at least one app not on the ATV that does hand off the stream - the TED app behaves the same as Netflix, YouTube, etc.
     

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