MacBook Air/C and Blu-ray video playback

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by Cave Man, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #1
    I got my 1.83 gHz Rev C MBA a few days after they were out, but I haven't had time to do much with it - until today. So, here's the nuts and bolts for high def video play.

    1. Straight Blu-ray rip playback. Source is a straight rip of Iron Man Blu-ray disc (1080p), which is very high bit rate (around 40 mbps) with AnyDVD HD and contains the True-HD audio track. I used Plex for playback, which transcodes the True-HD audio to Dolby Digital 5.1 on the fly, which then gets downsampled to Dolby Pro Logic for the MacBook Air ( up to 5 channel surround). Result: Lots of dropped frames and really not watchable.
    2. Blu-ray rip remuxed with tsmuxer to Dolby Digital 5.1. TSmuxer extracts Dolby Digital AC3 core from True-HD and DTS from DTS-HD audio and repackages it into an m2ts (or ts) container, preserving the original Blu-ray disc video source (h.264, MPEG-2 or VC-1). This makes it so Plex does not have to transcode the audio on the fly, thus alleviating pressure from the cpu. Same movie (i.e., no change in video quality from the disc), but dramatically different result. Result: Silky smooth playback of the 1080p source down to 720p on the MBA display. There were only 8 dropped frames right at the beginning (typical of Plex) but no more after that. Piped this to my 1080p Sanyo projector from the Mini DisplayPort and it worked just fine.
    In addition, I used Quicktime to play Ratatouille that had been transcoded from Blu-ray to m4v with Handbrake (1080p, 14 mbps, H.264 with Dolby Digital 5.1) and Quicktime played it perfectly fine (other than not being able to deal with the Dolby Digital track).

    So, it looks to me that the new MBAs are pretty good at playback of high-def video. It's definitely better than the 1.83 gHz Mac Mini/GMA950's ability to play Blu-ray video. Let's hope that at some point Apple will enable digital audio over the Mini DisplayPort so that we can passthrough high-def audio as well. This would also allow playback of the original source (i.e., the problem I have in #1) because Plex could be built to passthrough any high-def audio. In other words, I think the Rev C MacBook Airs are Blu-ray ready right now.
     
  2. hupple macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    #2
    I just got my mba 2.13g and tried to play youtube HD videos. It is good but for some videos it is not so smooth.
     
  3. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #3
    The 9400m does well, but I wonder how limited your HDD is... If I were you, I would either upgrade to SSD 2.13 OR get a refurbished 1.86 with SSD for $50 less than the one you bought new. That is if you're not happy. I have found the SSD to make the MBA feel about like ten times the Mac!
     
  4. h1d macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    #4
    Does Windows make anything better? As it has a little more to touch around under Windows NVidia driver options. While Mac is great to hide all those clutters, I wonder what the settings are at and if it's using any of the GPU specific features.
     
  5. hupple macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    #5
    I think so because 9400m support PureVideo HD and in windows, applications can use GPU to decode HD videos.
     
  6. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #6
    The only issue is the transcoding of DTS-HD or True-HD audio down to DTS or DD, which is a processor-intensive task. I doubt the hard drive has anything to do with that. At any rate, I routinely remux my Blu-ray rips with DTS or DD anyway, so it really has no effect on the MBA's ability to play Blu-ray movies.

    For the MBA, video decoding isn't the problem, it's the high-def audio that has to be downsampled. If Apple would permit audio passthrough out the Mini DisplayPort that problem would be obviated.
     
  7. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
  8. hupple macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2009
    #8
    What about using usb sound cards?
     
  9. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #9
    I don't know - I've never used those. I suspect they can't handle HD audio, though.
     
  10. darrellishere macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2007
    #10
    "Result: Lots of dropped frames and really not watchable."[/B]

    I found to play 1080p blu-ray rips on osx, I had to install Coolbook.

    It allows you to un-throttle the CPU, and play HD Rips using any player even on a 32" display smoothly!

    I've been doning this on my 1.6Ghz HDD Revision b.

    If I didn't have Coolbook installed and active, the constant frequency dropping of the cpu down to 786mhz would make it impossible to watch 1080p rip.

    Just as a note the display port on the air sucks! It won't let me watch blu-rays disks in windows on my 24" apple LED display. Keeps telling me to use an analogue signal LOL
    Copy protection gone MAD!
     
  11. h1d macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
  12. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #12
    All AnyDVD HD allows is ripping of the disc. It has nothing to do with playback performance since almost all Blu-ray discs are in True-HD or DTS-HD. Those audio tracks must be downsized to their cores (e.g., tsmuxer).
     
  13. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #13
    A quick update: Using Make MKV for ripping Blu-ray discs under OS X results in files that usually play just fine on the MBAc, too. However, since Make MKV only rewraps the video and audio (AC3 or DTS cores) from the m2ts container into an mkv container, there is the potential that very high bit rate movies could stutter. It's probably still a good idea to pass them though the Handbrake 2592 svn snapshot as mkv (for DTS passthrough with Plex) file for stutter-free playback.
     
  14. harrymcfly macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2009
    #14
    How long did it take you to rip and convert the blu-ray DVD? I would think the process would take hours, but I'm not too experienced in this area.
     
  15. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #15
    With Make MKV about 45 min. With AnyDVD HD about 60 min. Those yield files that Plex can play. If you want them for Quicktime or shrink their sizes (e.g., 720p) then you have to pass them through Handbrake (another 3 to 8 hours, depending on your computer and parameters of the transcode).
     
  16. Cave Man thread starter macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #16
    A quick update: If you have 10.6.3 and the current Quicktime, m4v containers with h.264 video is off-loaded to the gpu for decoding. My load effort went from about 120% to about 20%. In addition, if you install the hardware accelerated version of Plex or XBMC you'll get the same results. However, most Blu-ray rips with h.264 do not appear to have the proper profiles for Apple's hardware decoding, so you probably won't see any difference with those rips.
     
  17. Scottsdale macrumors 601

    Scottsdale

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Location:
    U.S.A.
    #17
    Yes, both 10.6.3 helped with OpenGL acceleration of the GPU and h.264 API access for third party developers helped sending graphics work to the GPU for hardware decoding. Apple has really made some great strides with its OS X in the last month. I have been impressed to see OS X make advancements toward catching up with the performance I see in Windows 7 on my same MBA.

    It is time for Apple to help its Mac users see the benefits of the great hardware being used in these Macs. Remember that 10.6 originally brought us 30% poorer OpenGL performance than we had with 10.5. It was promised to us that Apple would "fix" OpenGL with an update. While it took longer than it should have, OpenGL had over a 100% boost in performance with 10.6.3. Now, we're benefiting from 10.6.3, and while we're not seeing the same level of graphics from OS X that Windows 7 can give us, at least Apple has OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch to make applications run better on our Macs with all of our hardware being used properly in the process.
     
  18. jdechko macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2004
    #18
    Maybe this is why it's taken Apple so long to add Blu-Ray support to Macs (or at least part of it).
     

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