I Gave Up on Apple TV HD

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by BoulderBum, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. BoulderBum macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    Before I get skewered, let me say I still think that the Apple TV is the greatest thing since sliced bread. I can now download rentals from the internet and stream my iTunes movies/TV shows, watch video Podcasts, etc. I love it!

    That said, I couldn't really see the HD-ness of the Apple TV. I can notice the difference between normal and upscaled DVD's and I notice the difference between normal and live HD TV, but I can't really notice that much of a difference between SD and HD rentals, so I've officially started renting only SD by policy.

    In fact, I've yanked the HD cord from my Apple TV and switched to component video to preserve the HDMI port (though I seem to be able to still choose 720p over the component video cables, which I thought was impossible).

    So I'm officially in SD land now, but I can't say I regret it.

    Anyone else started renting SD movies exclusively?
  2. dejo Moderator


    Staff Member

    Sep 2, 2004
    The Centennial State
    Nope, not impossible. Component video can handle up to 1080p (although many TVs can't handle that via those cables).
  3. LucasLand macrumors 6502a


    Mar 6, 2002
    New England
    i've also noticed that sd movies in widescreen look as good as HD. I'll be watching an HD version and can't justify the extra $1.00

    Now I can see a major difference when i watch live TV, So I guess it is just movies.
  4. josejrp macrumors newbie

    Feb 22, 2008
    The difference between an SD and HD is striking on Blu-ray, so if you cannot tell the difference either you have a 42" (or less) TV or Apple's compression is causing image softening even though it is 720p. I haven't rented any HD movies yet so I can't comment on the issue.
  5. mark34 macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    Something is terribly wrong with your set-up if you cannot tell the difference.

    It is not a subtle difference, unless perhaps you are viewing on a very very small screen. It is not just a minor improvement, there is simply no comparison. Granted, I have only viewed on my 135" front projection screen with a reasonably high end projector. SD is pretty miserable. I would only recommend watching an SD rental for something that you really aren't going to watch very closely or if you have a very small non-HD screen.

    HD Apple TV is not as good as Blu-Ray but much much closer to Blu-Ray than to the SD rentals. I do use an external video processor, however that would only serve to close the gap between the SD rental and the HD, and I assure you the gap is huge.
  6. SpinThis! macrumors 6502

    Jan 30, 2007
    Inside the Machine (Green Bay, WI)
    That extra $1 also gets you 5.1 surround sound—something the SD rentals don't have.
  7. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    Actually if you never watched a Blu-Ray movie, you have never experienced real HD. I was a very big fan of the Apple TV since recently. I got a Playstation 3 and bought a couple of movies.......the difference is amazing: No artifacts, no compression, everything looks sharp and not blurry like on the Apple TV and the sound is mostly DTS....Actually there is no comparison between the two. The Playstation can also work as a media center if you buy Medialink (a great software), so after a while I decided selling my Apple TV....Bye bye!

    The Playstation rocks.... :)
  8. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007

    What kind of TV do you have?
  9. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    All of you guys are talking about blu-ray and other things right now that don't have anything to do with the OP. The OP doesn't even mention blu-ray.

    I think this is what the OP is trying to say:

    Can tell the difference between standard DVD and upconverted standard DVD
    Can tell the difference between SD tv channels and HD tv channels
    Can not tell the difference between "HD" iTunes rentals and "SD" iTunes rentals.

    So basically the OP is calling into question the quality of the "HD" rentals and whether or not the marginal increase in video resolution you get is worth the extra $1.

    To answer the OP's question: a lot of "HD" movies on iTunes have already been shown to be relatively poor quality. There seems to be pretty drastic difference between different "HD" movies. A lot of it has to do with the source material. Another is the fact that these "HD" movies you rent on iTunes still have to compressed enough to be small enough to stream over the internet.

    Also: component cables were the original HD cable. Component cables are capable of delivering perfect 1080p HD signal. You should notice no difference between component and HDMI. Most people who claim to notice a difference are actually noticing how much their TV sucks and processing the two different signals.
  10. fivepoint macrumors 65816


    Sep 28, 2007

    Which means virtually nothing considering we don't even know what equipment he is running. If he is using a SD TV for example, of course he won't see a difference. I hope that is not the case, but you get my point.

    It isn't as simple as you are making it out to be. I find it very hard to believe that any normal person could not delieniate a difference between Apple's HD and SD on a 50 HDTV for example. SD does not look very good on a screen of that size, and in my experience is a CONSIDRABLE step down from HD content.
  11. oursfan macrumors member

    Nov 28, 2007
    I agree. The advantage of the HDMI is the fact that it also carries the sound. One cord for HD video and sound. With component cables you have to have a different type of cable for you sound.

    As for the OP about the quality of the HD rentals, I can not comment because I have not yet rented an HD movie. Soon though.... Soon.
  12. mark34 macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    au contraire: I precisely answered that exact question: SD rental versus HD rental on Apple TV. Please re-read. I did mention Blu-Ray, but mostly I answered that question.
  13. anubis macrumors 6502a

    Feb 7, 2003
    False. He clearly stated in his first post that he was originally using the HDMI output from the AppleTV but switched to the component cables to try to see a difference. Clearly he has an HDTV. I have yet to see a SD TV that accepts HDMI input.

    You should provide examples of movies you've rented in HD and some that you've rented in SD so that the OP can try those rentals out to see if he notices a difference.
  14. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    The only real difference I saw was the dynamic range (more detail in shadows) was greater and the sound was better. For that I guess depending upon the movie the $1.00 is worth it.
  15. mark34 macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    seriously?? Maybe it is just the screen size. The SD stuff does not seem even equal to DVD let alone come close to HD.

    I read an article comparing HD movies on cable to HD Apple TV rentals and Blu-Ray. The HD Apple TV rentals essentially came in second to Blu-Ray and not too distant even though only 720p.

    The SD stuff from iTunes and the HD stuff from iTunes just aren't even similar. I am not someone who is very adept at explaining the precise drivers of quality differences between two pictures, except I know very good versus poor (and only to be used for emergency viewing needs). It is like, I guess as far as resolution goes it is exactly like, DVD versus High Definition. Same kind of difference. HUGE!

    I must admit, I am surprised at this thread. Maybe I am missing something. It seems like a few people have expressed seeing little difference between Apple TV SD and Apple TV HD. I am just so curious about that... seems odd.
  16. mark34 macrumors 6502a

    May 18, 2006
    Ha, I reread my post, I am kind of repetitive, sorry :)

    Also, it goes without saying that Dolby Digital at a minimum is a big deal (if you have an audio set-up of any kind)
  17. Mackilroy macrumors 68040


    Jun 29, 2006
    I can definitely tell a difference between HD and SD, even HD from sources besides my Blu-ray player (née game console). 720p looks fantastic compared to DVD resolutions, and I've only got a 42" TV. 1080p looks even better.

    Of course, I'm using high-quality 720p files...
  18. AppleFan360 macrumors 68020

    Jan 26, 2008
    I have a 106" front screen 720p projection system and I can definitely tell the difference between SD and HD. Granted, not as striking as Blu-Ray but plenty good for an evening of HD and some of the movies are not available on Blu-Ray.
  19. BoulderBum thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Feb 3, 2008
    That's true. I don't have a surround sound system for my home theater yet, though.

    Just to clear things up, it's a 52" 1080p Sharp Aquos (64U).

    That's right. I just haven't seen that much of a difference in the Apple TV rentals. I can certainly tell the difference between other HD sources (like live TV with an SD vs. HD broadcast of the same channel).

    I also notice the same quality issue with on-demand "HD" content from my cable company (Comcast). It just doesn't have the sharpness of other HD. It seems like a lot gets lost in the compression.

    Apple TV is still the best online rental device out there, though. I love the thing!

    I definately think online rentals are the future and Blu Ray, while I'm really interested to check it out, doesn't have the price point of the Apple TV yet, nor the convenience of downloads.

    I'm half tempted to get a PS3 to be able to play Blu Ray, though.

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