Apple TV vs. Blu-Ray

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by pablol, Mar 11, 2009.

  1. pablol macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin
    #1
    So I bought an Apple TV a year ago and have been quite happy with it. At first I was just using it to rent movies, but then I started getting into the habit of buying films too, and now I've purchased probably about 50 movies from the iTunes store.

    As the price of blu-ray players has come down significantly, I decided to get a Blu-Ray player to hook up to my 37" HDTV (albeit only 720p capable), and I bought a few blu-ray discs.

    The first one I tried was Aeon Flux, and let me tell you - the hype around blu-ray is real! I was immediately blown away. To confirm I wasn't just pre-disposed to like it, I decided to compare it to the version of Aeon Flux I bought on the iTunes store.

    I did this by starting both the Blu-Ray and iTunes versions at the same chapters (in several places) and then quickly switching inputs on my TV for comparison. My first reaction was that the iTunes version now seemed like some cheap copy of a copy of a copy... the color was all wrong after seeing it on blu-ray, the detail was missing, and I can only image how much better it would look on blu-ray if my TV were 1080p-capable. Same reaction when comparing Teminator 2, Casino Royale, etc.

    Apple TV is great for the convenience of having your movies available at a click, but for the prices they charge a blu-ray disc isn't that much more these days and the difference in quality is truly night and day. Now there's no way I can go back to low-quality H.264.

    Apple needs to wake up... consumers may be willing to sacrifice some quality and buy MP3s over CD (WAV) for the convenience of being portable and having the ability to cherry-pick songs from albums, but I don't think the same logic applies to movies... if you've spent $1,000+ on an HD TV you simply aren't gonna wanna watch movies in the iTunes format when compared to what blu-ray offers.

    For now, my Apple TV is going back to what it was originally intended for - renting movies, but even this is annoying since often new releases aren't available for rent until 4-6 weeks after it's online for purchase. But from now on, my purchases will be blu-ray only until Apple seriously improves the quality of the downloads. And I won't be buying another Apple laptop until a blu-ray drive is available.
     
  2. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #2
    great to hear!!!! im not that keen on the :apple:TV, thus why im saving for a mac mini :) because it can play bluray and everything else too!!! best of both worlds really.
     
  3. pablol thread starter macrumors member

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    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin
    #3
    Actually, Mac Mini (and any other Apple computer) will not play Blu-Rays. Apple is still stuck on outdated DVD-R SuperDrives at the moment. Hoping this changes soon, especially for portables.
     
  4. mmccaskill macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    #4
    Just rip the Blu-ray to your AppleTV. AnyDVD HD + Handbrake = Blu-ray on AppleTV.
     
  5. belvdr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #5
    I use my ATV mainly to rip my DVDs to. A lot easier to switch movies (or find one in the first place) rather than dig through a physical stack of them.
     
  6. belvdr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #6
    I've heard some say you lose quality doing that, because the ATV won't output Blu-Ray in high-end HD.
     
  7. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Location:
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    #7
    But you don't lose quality on the file itself, right?

    So, wait, you can just use AnyDVD HD to rip the VC1 file, and then HandBrake on a Mac will be able to convert that to a playable movie file?

    That seems easier than it should be...

    Oh, and "high-end HD"? No. 1080p is only the second of four levels.

    An updated Apple TV will be able to handle 1080p.
     
  8. belvdr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #8
    Updated? Well, yeah, if Apple ever updates them. But the current model goes doesn't have the power for 1080p.

    You need to convert that file to an m4v for a stock ATV to play it, I believe.
     
  9. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #9
    Apple isn't your problem. The studios are. They don't want you to be able to buy HD movies online. If you want to bitch and moan, send the studios an email.
     
  10. pablol thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin
    #10
    Wrong... Apple could put blu-ray drives in macs, allowing us to at least easily rip blu-rays or even just connect the mac to your HDTV. NO studio is forcing them not to do that. It's simply that they'd rather sell low-quality downloads.
     
  11. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #11
    You aren't serious, are you?
     
  12. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2003
    #12
    So you don't believe that if Apple could, it would sell HD movies? All of content that Apple sells is constrained by what the studios will allow.

    As for the quality, I would love to see a beefed up ATV that does 1080p. But to think that a digital download should be able to compete with the massive bitrate you can get from a blu-ray disc is unreasonable, at least with the current broadband infrastructure.

    As for putting blu-ray drives in Macs, I'm not convinced it would be a smart move. First, it would add cost to each unit at a time when people are cutting back. Second, blu-ray hasn't really taken off yet, and there's not a clear indication yet that it will. There is a battle between optical media vs. digital downloads, and, despite the better quality from blu-ray, downloads have the advantage of ease.
     
  13. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2008
    #13
    my biggest issue with movies on ATV is the pricing. BR disc prices have been coming down nicely in the past couple of months. Apple never lowers their price. The studios ofcourse are leary of any downloads of their movies. They'd rather sell them on harder to copy and pirate, discs.

    In my opinion, unless on sale, its never a good idea to buy a movie on ATV. I'd rather buy an actually DVD and rip.
     
  14. neiltc13 macrumors 68040

    neiltc13

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    #14
    The most logical reason for HD movies being compressed when sold as downloads is because if they weren't then they would consume huge amounts of bandwidth and would take a very long time to arrive.

    If you want real HD movies, your only option is Blu Ray at the moment. That may change in the future, but if you buy an AppleTV expecting crisp, blockless movies then you are probably going to be disappointed.

    Just buy a PlayStation 3 - it does everything AppleTV does and it has Blu Ray built in. If you live in Europe you can also get a TV tuner and recorder for it and if you live in North America you have access to a store selling movie and TV show content.
     
  15. Sky Blue Guest

    Sky Blue

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2005
    #15
    yes they are.
     
  16. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2008
    #16
    Didn't you know HDCP was created to make it easier to rip Blu-ray Discs to a digital file format? Geez, it's almost as if you think HDCP is to keep people from doing that. :D
     
  17. pablol thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2003
    Location:
    Berlin
    #17
    Then why do PCs have blu-ray drives? Because studios let them but won't let Apple?
     
  18. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #18
    HDCP is the minor issue. The encryption algorithms are the major issue. And the studios learned from their feeble mistakes with DVDs. No company who licenses Blu-ray technology will be permitted to make ripping easy.

    Blu-ray requires OS-level software. It is something that Apple strongly opposes because it introduces additional overhead. That Apple has taken this position lets the studios pretend it's their real concern, when in fact their real concern is that Apple is a competitor who can apply leverage against them. That's why the studios don't like Apple - they own the ball.

    Again, your issues are with the studios. Not Apple.
     
  19. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

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    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #19
    lol i dont think you understand. i would, of course, rip the BD to my computer first. then use plex to watch it :)
     
  20. gugy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA
    #20
    AppleTV as media server

    OK, This is my conundrum.

    I would like to buy either AppleTV or the WD Media Player. I tend to like AppleTV (because iTunes software) better, but the limit storage and lack of 1080p pushes me towards the WD.
    Does anybody out there have tried both systems?

    I will mostly convert my standard DVD and bluray library to have immediate access. I don't care about renting or buying from iTunes.

    I appreciate any feedback.
     
  21. johnnj macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2008
    Location:
    Not here
    #21
    Why would anyone buy the WD box if it can't play media over the network.

    Seemingly one would need to rip one's media onto an external USB drive, unplug it from one's computer, pick it up, walked it across the floor, and plug it into the WD player. I mean... didn't freakin' Bob Metcalfe invent freakin' ethernet so people wouldn't have to do dumb stuff like that?

    There are only three options if you want to play 1080p mkv via network: Popcorn Hour A-100/A-110, Mediagate MG-800, and build an HTPC.

    If you want to be able to play raw BD rips (m2ts stream files), then you'll need either a PCH or an HTPC. MG800 can't do that yet. Soon, but not yet.

    John
     
  22. DoFoT9 macrumors P6

    DoFoT9

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2007
    Location:
    Singapore
    #22
    you forgot the 4th option, mac mini :)
     
  23. gugy macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2005
    Location:
    La Jolla, CA
    #23
    My issue is I like to have everything locally to some degree. I would hate to have to turn my Mac every time I want to watch a DVD or blu-ray or listen music. That small hard drive capacity of AppleTV is a bummer. I wished they would allow external drive to be plug into the USB port.
    I have over 100 dvds, 25 blu-ray and 52gigs of music. That's why it is very important a large hard drive for me.
     
  24. PsyD4Me macrumors 6502a

    PsyD4Me

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Location:
    under your bed
    #24
    you can have yours upgraded at macservice.com
    They did mine (320GB) and its awesome.
     
  25. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a

    GreatDrok

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Location:
    New Zealand
    #25
    A couple of things to note. First, Blu-ray discs are also heavily compressed. Compression doesn't have to result in blocky fuzzy images. It just depends on the amount of bandwidth and the care over the encoding. Also, the way your monitor is set up also has a profound effect on the picture quality. Lossy compression assumes a correct calibration and if you have your display set to 'sparkle' the regions which weren't meant to be seen will show up (posterised blocky regions).

    With a properly calibrated display, a decent SD image can look pretty good and on a badly calibrated display, HD can look terrible.

    I don't currently have Blu-ray because of region locks and over priced discs, plus having been through LaserDisc, DVD and HD DVD, I don't really feel like adding more discs to the pile. I spent my Blu-ray player funds on the ATV instead. HD rentals look excellent. Not quite as clear as HD DVD (which is practically identical to BD) but definitely crisper than DVD with the fine detail and bright colours you expect from HD. The SD rentals from iTunes also look pretty good and are about the same as DVD. Given the choice, instant access and pricing I'm perfectly satisfied with the ATV. If HD purchases were available I would definitely buy them but they're not so I'll continue encoding my current stock of DVDs and renting HD.

    The above is all played on a 70" screen with an HD projector.
     

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