Apple TV on a 52-inch HDTV, will it look good?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by shanedawg021, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. shanedawg021 macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    Most of my movie collection is in .avi format at 700MB a piece. I have no problem converting those files .mp4 using the HandBrake Apple TV preset, but I'm worried about how it will look on a 52-inch HDTV. The quality looks great on my 17-inch iMac monitor, but since the TV is about 4-5 times bigger I'm thinking the picture may be pixelated or blurry. Does anyone have any experience with this? I'm really leaning towards getting Apple TV because DVD's are nearly obsolete and I'd love to have all movies stored in one spot, and easily accessible. I've searched forums and customer reviews and haven't found a satisfying answer.

    Any input or advice will help. Thanks.
  2. zedsdead macrumors 68040

    Jun 20, 2007
    Coveting using the latest Handbrake will keep the quality as seen on your dvd's. The AVI's may not look so great since they are only 700MB a piece, but they likely will not look horrible either.
  3. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    What's the resolution of your .avi? I'm guessing it's less than DVD, and probably less than 480i/p. I have an :apple:tv with a 50" Panasonic 1080 and, though watchable, movies at that quality level (basically SD or less) do look fuzzy. For instance, some of the lower quality "digital copies" and older, lower res. iTunes movies - both really meant for portable device viewing.

    DVD's are far from dead. Streaming or downloaded movies at 480 usually have more compression artifacts than a DVD. Most still don't equal DVD, though I recently got a couple of Digital Copies which were 480 or better ("UP" and "Star Trek, 2009") and they look OK on my setup. I would say those still don't surpass a good up-scaled DVD.

    If you're getting a 52" 1080 tv, you are going to start collecting hi-def video. Even 720p blows the Digital Copy, and especially your .avi videos, out of the water. You'll get spoiled real quick watching any hi-def source, especially 1080. Sources from cable, sat, or DTV usually look very good, with most Blu-rays on the top of the heap.

    That said, I do have quite a collection of 480p video on my :apple:tv - a bunch of DVD's and several TV series (like the entire Outer Limits collection). They all look very good, for 480, on the 50". I would be willing to bet they are encoded at higher bit rates and quality (using H.264) than most .avi vids I've run across, so take that into consideration when comparing my results with what you might get using your .avi sources.

    Hope this info helps.

    Enjoy the big tv, btw. :)
  4. shanedawg021 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    I opened a movie in VLC and it says the resolution is 632 x 336. Not sure how I can find out any other info. Be aware I am not an expert at this stuff, but I have some knowledge.

    You basically confirmed what I was fearing. I had a feeling that the file size was just too small to look good on that big of a TV.

    Didn't actually mean the DVD was completely dead. But in my case, I've found myself buying/renting less and less DVD's. When I got the TV I played a DVD and it looked amazing, can't imagine how good BluRay would look. Most of my HD channels are at 720 and they look great. I don't think I will be able to handle watching fuzzy video.

    Thanks for the input. Much appreciated.
  5. shanedawg021 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    but if anyone has anything else to say I will gladly read it :D
  6. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    The resolution of 632 x 336 is less than a DVD (480), and is at the low end of what I'd feel comfortable watching on the 50" - plus, I'd guess at that file size the compression is set fairly high, adding to the "fuzzyness".

    I just checked one of my older conversions from DVD and its format was:
    H.264, 720 x 362, 2.5mbps. But, it's 1.9GB. Whatever setting I used (some :apple:tv preset, no doubt), was obviously set for low compression.

    Another movie I did ("The Time Machine", George Pal version) was H.264, 720 x 480, 2.67mbps at 2.05GB. This movie looks almost identical to DVD (as it should at about 50% of the mpeg-2 on the DVD and using H.264).

    As you can see, you can get your DVDs converted to MP4 with decent quality. It's just a matter of how they're encoded. There's just not enough quality in the .avi files you have to convert to mp4 and get the near DVD quality I think your after.

    If you can re-encode your DVD's at 480p and use H.264, you'd probably be happy with the result.
  7. shanedawg021 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    Thanks for all your help. Your movies are definitely encoded better than mine for what I am trying to do. Like I said they worked perfect for viewing on my 17 inch monitor, but not a 52 inch tv.

    After researching for the last hour I have learned enough to weigh my options. It's pretty clear to me that re-encoding the avi files is out of the question. I also know that I probably won't ever bother to re-encode everything from DVD, since I already did that once. When I get new movies I will obviously choose a better setting.

    Now I have one more question... I have access to a PC laptop :eek: which has an HDMI slot. I could hook that up to my TV to test how the videos look at different compression rates. Any idea if the quality will be the same, better, or worse? I realize this is getting a bit off topic. I just want to preview before I buy, in a way.
  8. gr8tfly macrumors 603


    Oct 29, 2006
    ~119W 34N
    It should be pretty close, as long as the output resolution is set the same. But, there's different decoding hardware and software, which could make some difference.

    It wasn't clear which iMac you have, but I believe they do have DVI out, in some form. You can get a DVI > HDMI adapter and go directly from your iMac, which might be more convenient.
  9. shanedawg021 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Apr 20, 2009
    The TV is in a different room and I already have the HDMI cable, so at the moment this will be more convenient. Thanks again for all your help. I'll try to remember to come back here and update on what I decided.
  10. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    I have some movies encoded only using the iPhone preset in Handbrake, so they're probably lower resolution than your old files (the file size is about the same though). I was shocked how good they look on a larger screen (I have a 55" set) but, if you're looking for it, you'll notice the low resolution.

    I wouldn't let your old media get in the was of your new TV. Get it, then set about re-encoding your old library to your new, higher standards.

    Also, read the how-to threads on here about ripping Blu Ray. Even though the ATV can handle only 720p right now, it's a simple (but slow) process to rip and encode for ATV, and the results are spectacular! I love having HD versions of my movie library available in multiple rooms.
  11. couto27 macrumors 6502

    Nov 10, 2008
    i have a apple tv and a 42 inch tv

    i convert my avi movie using handbrake to mp4
    my settings was convert to apple tv , best resolution possible and best sound

    i use handbrake in early 2009 mac mini , they take at least 1 hour each to convert.

    the movies look great in a 20" apple cinema , and they also look great in my apple tv with a 42" phillips tv.

    my advice apple tv is great ,but when you are downloding a pirate movie from the web dont expect miracles if you download a crap copy on the web.

    well i prefer to pay $4.99 for rent hd movie with 5.1 surround .
  12. wombat888 macrumors 6502a

    May 10, 2008
    From your description of how the avi files stack up, I'd say it won't look very good. Passable in a pinch, but not a good viewing experience.

    One question I'd ask before engaging in a big project to get better files is how often you'll watch them. If often, then I'd re-rip or use the original media. If not very often, I'd question whether the effort is warranted.
  13. Crazy Flyer macrumors newbie

    Jan 20, 2010
    Try 1.8gb

    Firstly, you are aware that avi's won't play on ATV. Secondly, if you are shooting for a file size anything under 1.8gb for a 2 hr movie is going to look crappy on an HD tv or that size! I purchased the ATV to get rid of my dvd's so I'm transferring them all to digital. I've tried using the extra high settings 5000bps or more and was a waste of space to me. The sweet spot (to me) is around 2.2-2.5gb per movie standard or HD.
    Now that's ripping from your dvd's with the Apple TV preset (mp4, H.264). I don't know of a way (at the consumer) to make a copy better than the original so you can duplicate your movies at a higher bit rate into the ATV format but if you are using the 700mb files as your source than you might not get what you are looking for.

    Playing on 40in, 42in, 64in, & 12FT (all HD)

    900 movies+ almost finished!

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