Apple TV vs Blu-ray vs External HD

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by BiggeeC, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. BiggeeC macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2002
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Hey everybody. This may have been discussed in a bunch of different threads, but I wanted to put it all together (mostly to help myself out). Here's what I'm thinking: With the cost of Blu-ray players coming down (Sony announced one of it's players will be $299, and non-Sony brands should be around $250), now is a good time to get one. After buying a Blu-ray player, I would then have to buy the DVD's, and use up more storage space in my house (currently have about 300 DVD's). I'm trying to get away from DVD's. I'm all about embracing digital downloads, but I have a few questions.

    First, let's talk about external HD's. What if!! I bought a 1TB external HD, and used iTunes to download all of my movies and TV shows in HD. I could put them all on my HD, then just plug it into my TV. This would save on storage, and the cost is about the same.

    Or, I could buy an AppleTV and use that. I have to admit, I'm not too sure how this thing works. From what I've seen, I think I could use it the same way as the HD, just with a much smaller capacity.

    Another question is this: How does HD content from iTunes compare to Blu-ray? Storage is an issue, but HD quality probably is a bigger one. I have a 56" 1080p tv, and it is stunning while watching an HD show. Is the quality of iTunes about the same as watching a broadcast show? Or worse?

    Any opinion on which of the three would be great. Thanks.

  2. princealfie macrumors 68030


    Mar 7, 2006
    Salt Lake City UT
    Blu-ray is nice but you cannot put it onto an iPod... easier to get it from iTunes!
  3. cualexander macrumors 6502a

    Apr 3, 2006
    Charlotte, NC
    It really depends on how much of a videophile/audiophile you are.

    Blu-ray has 1080p video always. And most Blu-ray discs have HD Audio. If you have an audio receiver with HDMI, you get great uncompressed audio. DTS and DOLBY are compressed.

    Apple TV is only 720p. And you won't get uncompressed HD Audio. The Apple videos use compression. Its a good algorithim, but doesn't really match up to Blu-ray video quality.

    External HD? Are you connecting this to a computer? I'm confused how you would play it on your TV with just the HD.

    A lot of people would be perfectly happy with 720p. Thats what a lot of TV is broadcast in anyhow.
  4. BiggeeC thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2002
    Gaithersburg, MD
    I would attach the external HD to my Mac, transfer my downloads to to it, then plug that into my TV. I'm a bit of an audio/videophile, nothing major. I have a very nice Onkyo receiver that can handle all of my audio needs. This is where I'm torn. I've been downloading SD shows/movies on my MacBook Pro, and have been watching them there. Now that iTunes is offering HD Tv Shows, this whole thing has got me thinking about which format to embrace.
  5. Donar macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2008
    I'm not into itunes so maybe this is not an issue... what happens if the external HD fails? Do you get your content back for free? If not - put it on a Raid.
  6. TomP80 macrumors member

    Apr 15, 2008
    The solution depends entirely on your budget and/or wanting video and audio perfection.

    If you can only afford one, then this is what you should think about:

    BlueRay wins hands down for the best video and audio - no question. It's downside is that it uses physical media (have to change discs, purchase all of your content from a store, etc). It basically becomes a very expensive solution after you have purchased 100 discs.

    Now, if you are completely happy hooking up an external HDD to your MacBook Pro, then hooking that up to your receiver before you watch any of your content, then you will have a much more flexible setup than an ATV. You can play whatever format you like, and do a whole lot more than watch your media. You can do anything your MacBook can do.

    But, the joy of the ATV is that it is a "clean" solution. You don't have to spend 10 minutes plugging in leads and navigating through OSX to find the file you want. The file you want to play has already been seamlessly synced or streamed wirelessly to your ATV without you lifting a finger, and is easily accessible via the very impressive ATV menu system.

    It is just a case of personal preference - and your budget. The best solution is to get a blue ray player and and ATV, and an external HDD as you will pretty quickly fill your MPB's hard disk if you are planning on ripping your 300 DVD's.
  7. apramanik macrumors newbie

    Jul 11, 2008
    San Francisco, CA. USA
    Apple TV

    The Apple TV can be setup at 1080P, I have done it, Ashok
  8. CMD is me macrumors 6502

    Dec 7, 2006
    How? 24 or 30fps? Max bitrate?
  9. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    I believe he is thinking that because he chose the 1080 option when he first set it up, it is actually outputting 1080p files. If so, this is NOT true. The hardware is limited to 720p HD max. The output setting scales lower resolution files to higher resolution (TV) formats.

    But scaling is not the same as actually playing 1080i or 1080p native video, much like sizing a 1280 x 720 pixel jpeg image up to 1920 x 1080 does not yield a jpeg that looks as good as one natively shot at 1920 x 1080 resolution. Scaling algorithms are "guessing" what missing pixels they fill in should look like; it is impossible for any algorithm to guess all pixels exactly right.

    Apple needs to roll out a hardware upgrade that can cover the current consumer maximum standard (1080p)- even though coming up with source content for it would be a (movie studio) cooperation and broadband distribution (requirements) problem. It is sad that they didn't do that in the first place.

    Back to the original question: you have too much eye of the beholder variables in your question to get any good answer here. It ultimately will come down to trying an :apple:TV on your set and seeing if you are satisfied with the quality of that experience. It lacks the hardware to absolutely compete with Blue Ray, but many find it satisfying enough "as is"- probably because it is superior to DVD quality.

    Buy one, try it, and return it if you don't think it is good enough. That's the only way anyones individual preferences can be fully factored into these kinds of questions.
  10. arjen92 macrumors 65816


    Sep 9, 2008
    Below sea level

    I think you should go for the blu-ray players. they're dedicated to hd and probably will support all actions (going on the internet etc), next to that, if you want to go to a friend to watch that fabulous movie, you'll need to take you external hd and mac, or you're apple tv, while with blu-ray you only need to take the disc. I think you will have much more fun from a blu-ray player.
  11. BiggeeC thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2002
    Gaithersburg, MD
    Spencers---thanks for the links. I think I'm going to go with Blu-ray for now. It seems to me that the next step would be digital downloads, but it appears that the technology is just not there yet (to compete w/blu-ray in quality). Thanks everybody.

  12. kcdude macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2008
    I'm holding out for a Mini w/ATV functionality, 1080P output via HDMI and a Blueray drive:rolleyes: How many of those would sell?
  13. BiggeeC thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 23, 2002
    Gaithersburg, MD

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