MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
54,138
15,942
https://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogodarkd.png

A few sites have posted their impressions and reviews of the Apple TV 'Take 2' update that was released just yesterday. Besides the new interface and computer-less design, the biggest new update to the Apple TV is the availability of High Definition iTunes rental content. This is an Apple TV-only feature at the moment, and only available in Rentals, not purchases. Anecdotal reports have ranged from good to great quality of the HD content. Gizmodo subjectively felt the HD quality was "better than DVD" but not "true" HD.

iLounge went a step further and made direct comparisons (with screenshots) between the Apple TV, Blu-Ray, DVD and HD Cable. The movie they chose was Live Free or Die Hard. Their results:

- Blu-Ray clear winner but surprised by how well Apple TV did
- Very little motion blur or artifacts in Apple TV
- "Because of its cleaner motion and audio, we felt that the Apple experience was better in both overall audio and video quality than the HD cable experience, and for most users, superior to renting a standard DVD as well."

Note that individual experiences may vary depending on the movie due to differences in source material and encoding. It's been said that the Apple TV HD movie previews don't necessarily reflect the quality of the actual HD movie quality.

Article Link
 

calvy

macrumors 65816
Sep 17, 2007
1,270
9
But it's still not powerful enough to play my downloaded 1080p mkv files, so screw it.
 
Comment

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,600
694
Cork, Ireland.
Apple HD rentals obviously aren't available here yet, but I've tried HD rentals through Xbox Live and was very impressed (apart from 24 hours not being long enough, IMO).

Has anyone tried both HD rental services, and could comment on the respective qualities?
 
Comment

Shacklebolt

macrumors 6502a
Sep 2, 2004
596
0
Gah.... I don't like it. I'm sure the movies still look very good, but I don't know if Apple's stock can take yet another, "Well, there's a catch..." in regards to Apple products.
 
Comment

ChrisK018

macrumors regular
Dec 4, 2005
172
0
Washington, DC
Nice that there is some good picture quality.

I got all happy-- thinking I might get one-- but from what mighty macrumors tells me the max Apple TV puts out is 720p?

That means I wait. I want 1080p.
 
Comment

pjarvi

macrumors 65816
Jan 11, 2006
1,289
190
Clovis, CA
I have a 6Mbps DSL connection, and it took around 5 hours for me to download Die Hard in HD. It gave a notification that it was ready to play after about 3 1/2 hours of downloading. I went to sleep instead, and plan on watching it this weekend.
 
Comment

shawnce

macrumors 65816
Jun 1, 2004
1,442
0
how long did it take to buffer/dl?

will i have to wait an hour so watch my rental?

As Markleshark said it depends on your internet connection (bandwidth) however you can start to view the rental as soon as enough of it has downloaded to keep ahead of playback (the AppleTV software will inform you when you can start to view). In other words you don't (necessarily) have to wait for the full download before you can start to watch. SD rentals startup relatively fast.
 
Comment

orme292

macrumors newbie
Jan 28, 2008
11
0
Philadelphia
Only having DSL....

It took me hours to download an HD rental on 1.5mbps DSL.

However, while I did notice the quality difference between an SD movie and the HD rental, I generally wasn't as "blown away" as I am by 1080p and Blu-ray. Despite this, it's still great to bring HD Video to the home as easy as ATV makes it.
 
Comment

madmaxmedia

macrumors 68030
Dec 17, 2003
2,922
33
Los Angeles, CA
If it compares well to HD cable then that's a good sign IMO (considering bitrate is low compared to Blu-Ray). My HD cable broadcasts can look very good, definitely much better than DVD, depending on the source material.

If the HD selection can grow and rival Blu-Ray, ATV actually becomes a pretty compelling alternative to a Blu-Ray player (at current Blu-Ray hardware prices.)
 
Comment

skirmish

macrumors newbie
Jun 28, 2007
8
0
Can someone clear up for me, if the apple tv can output 1080p where's the bottleneck holding it back to 720 and is this a hardware or firmware issue?
 
Comment

MacinJosh

macrumors 6502a
Jan 29, 2006
676
55
Finland
I question iLounge's decision to use JPGs on their website to compare the picture qualities. They should've used lossless compression like PNG images so we'd get a pixel perfect representation of each format. JPG compresses the image further and the quality suffers.

Joshua.

Can someone clear up for me, if the apple tv can output 1080p where's the bottleneck holding it back to 720 and is this a hardware or firmware issue?

Outputting 1080p is not a problem at all as it doesn't require much horsepower at all. 1080p = 1920x1080 which a 486PC from the early nineties could do with the right video card. The problem is decoding 1080p material which requires muchos power.

Joshua.
 
Comment

calvy

macrumors 65816
Sep 17, 2007
1,270
9
way to keep it real man.

Hehe, thanks. I'm just frustrated. I so badly want to buy one of these little boxes and put a full blow OS X on it, but it won't play the content I've got collected from newsgroups. Although I do hear it'll do 720p mkv files, and that is the majority of what I download.
 
Comment

pgwalsh

macrumors 68000
Jun 21, 2002
1,639
218
New Zealand
That Apple TV looks pretty good, but you could certainly see the difference between that and Blu-ray. The convenience factor will play a big role, but it would be more appealing if you could use it as a DVR too.
 
Comment

mwp98223

macrumors 6502
Apr 24, 2007
256
1
Conway Washington
how long did it take to buffer/dl?

will i have to wait an hour so watch my rental?

I have a 10Mbs cable connection and appleTV connected via ethernet. An HD movie took about 1 hour to fully download, but AppleTV said I could start watching (I didn't try it) with only 2% downloaded after just a couple minutes. I have not yet watched the movie.
 
Comment

InfernoSoul

macrumors newbie
Apr 5, 2007
19
0
North Platte, NE
If it compares well to HD cable then that's a good sign IMO (considering bitrate is low compared to Blu-Ray). My HD cable broadcasts can look very good, definitely much better than DVD, depending on the source material.

If the HD selection can grow and rival Blu-Ray, ATV actually becomes a pretty compelling alternative to a Blu-Ray player (at current Blu-Ray hardware prices.)

I highly doubt it's going to rival Blu-ray's selection. 80% of the movie studios are backing Blu-ray. In my opinion that is just wishful thinking. That and Blu-ray obviously still looks better because it being a physical media and plenty of space for the Studios to work with, without being limited by the general public's internet connection. There are still more people out there that prefer to have physical media over digital media. DVD sales prove this. Blu-ray players have dropped from $1200 to $350 in little over a year. I'm betting by next year they might possibly be in the $150-250 if not cheaper depending on how successful Blu-ray becomes.
 
Comment

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,938
1,273
Washington DC
I question iLounge's decision to use JPGs on their website to compare the picture qualities. They should've used lossless compression like PNG images so we'd get a pixel perfect representation of each format. JPG compresses the image further and the quality suffers.

Joshua.

Well, for that matter, is shooting a TV screen with a camera "really" what you'll see?

The point is not to show WHAT you'll see, but rather to just compare the differences. It shows that AppleTV rentals are "close" to Blu-Ray and "better" than DVD.

That's what the point is here, and using JPEGs doesn't negate that lesson.
 
Comment

Krevnik

macrumors 68040
Sep 8, 2003
3,820
1,031
If it compares well to HD cable then that's a good sign IMO (considering bitrate is low compared to Blu-Ray). My HD cable broadcasts can look very good, definitely much better than DVD, depending on the source material.

Bitrate for 720p should be lower than Blu-Ray overall... by as much as 1/4th. Still isn't quite the same bitrate as what ATV provides. Still, HD cable is worse. They provide a higher bitrate, but it is MPEG-2, severely limiting the quality you can provide at that bitrate.

What I see in my first HD rental is that Comcast has macroblocking problems and is getting the bitrate capped during high-motion scenes which winds up being very bad for the quality of the movie. Noticeably so.

HD rentals from iTunes suffer a different quality problem due to the bitrate. I have yet to see macroblocking, and the image is quite sharp for a 720p source. The catch is that gradients in dark areas take damage, as do reds (I am still trying to figure out why H.263 and H.264 have such an issue with solid red). Overall, I would consider the 720p rental better quality and easier to watch than cable.
 
Comment

slffl

macrumors 65816
Mar 5, 2003
1,303
4
Seattle, WA
I take nothing from Gizmodo or Engadget seriously. They do nothing but pander to the anti-Apple and Sony trolls.
 
Comment

sbrant

macrumors newbie
Feb 13, 2008
1
0
If you are a videophile then maybe this is not the product for you. Its not for everyone. Stop complaining. I for one enjoy the fact that I can rent a movie with out leaving home. Not as good as a high end blue ray but whocares. Simple put if you don't like it don't buy it. Apple is not forcing you. They are just offering a means to a end, not the end.
 
Comment

gkarris

macrumors G3
Dec 31, 2004
8,301
1,054
"No escape from Reality...”
GREAT ARTICLE! I was wondering about the quality comparisons...

Blu-ray and 1080, obviously the best way to go on a larger screen where you can tell the difference.

Apple HD rentals obviously aren't available here yet, but I've tried HD rentals through Xbox Live and was very impressed (apart from 24 hours not being long enough, IMO).

Has anyone tried both HD rental services, and could comment on the respective qualities?

I've bought a couple of Star Trek episodes in 720p from XBox Live and looking at the article, the quality tends to be about the same as Apple - obviously the source material is the same - 720p. It only wet my apetite for wanting the shows on high def discs (Blu-ray the winner now I guess).

From the article:

It’s also worth noting that the Blu-Ray Disc’s biggest video and audio advantages are real, but will be lost on many HDTV users. Since the majority of HDTVs sold before 2007 were not capable of displaying true 1080p output—most were capped at 720p or 1080i—the superior video quality of the Blu-Ray versions of movies won’t be noticeable on such sets, and the difference between the Apple TV and Blu-Ray versions will be less noticeable. If you’re using a TV without the ability to display 1080p video—especially if you don’t have a receiver capable of decoding the Blu-Ray Disc’s DTS-HD signal—an Apple TV rental will be an almost complete substitute for renting the Blu-Ray.

And hence, Apple not releasing any Blu-ray drives in its computers...
 
Comment

Small White Car

macrumors G4
Aug 29, 2006
10,938
1,273
Washington DC
(I am still trying to figure out why H.263 and H.264 have such an issue with solid red).

Because ALL video has trouble with the color red. This is an issue going back to, well, the first color TVs a half century ago.

When you see red graphics on TV they usually have some blue mixed in to help with that. When shooting stuff with a camera, however, some items are just plain red and it's unavoidable.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.