nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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I am not sure why this happens. Maybe the classic shows I like are not remastered in HD yet? But there are three shows I purchased that should have been that way. They never gave me an HD option nor a 4K option and boy, on a 65" 4K TV, they look terrible

Babylon 5, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Farscape. Great prices for the complete series, but they're all in SD. The CGI effects in SD for Bab5 are terrible!!! DS9's station views as well. The shows themselves look alright when you see people's faces and interior scenes, but still. For a 4K streaming box, why isn't there at least an option for SD, HD or 4K content? Am I doing it wrong?
 

Trajan81

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Oct 3, 2013
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The studios have not remastered the content of those shows to HD, let alone 4K. Apple is just providing the versions the studios give them.

The shows/movies available on iTunes have nothing to do with whether the Apple TV is a 4K streaming box. iTunes is just a digital store front hosting the media provided by Studios.
 

nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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How do i actually purchase HD content or at least 4K content then? there's zero options for even ATV+ content. They just play in SD all the time! I've adjusted the streaming quality to no avail and disabled quick start but those don't seem to do anything.

Farscape when it was on Netflix did play in 1080p, btw, so that show is definitely available in HD. It plays in terrible SD only 480p according to my TV, after buying it. It does scale properly without modifying the aspect ratio so it plays proper full screen without the infuriating bars, or me having to stretch it, so it's scaling to proper resolution but that's it.

I sure hope I didn't simply miss the option to buy better resolution, but during purchase, those shows didn't give me an HD or other option, just 'buy season' or 'buy show' as the only available option.
 

mallbritton

macrumors 6502a
Nov 26, 2006
904
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Babylon 5 and ST: DS9 are not available in HD and will never be. Farscape, though, is available on the U.S. iTunes Store in HD. Are you in the U.S.? Perhaps that is why Farscape isn’t available to you in HD?
 

-Gonzo-

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Nov 14, 2015
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If there’s no HD option available then you’ll only get SD upon purchase, even if HD gets added at a later date.
As already mentioned two of those shows are only available in SD.
With iTunes there’s usually an option between SD and HD but you have to make sure you’re on the correct option before hand.
You’ll never get the higher quality than what you’ve already purchased, you buy SD you own SD, you buy HD then you have access to whatever the highest quality available is.
Via iOS you’ll see one of these options when you scroll to the bottom depending on what quality version you’re already on.
It should be pretty obvious without scrolling down as you either see the HD icon or you don’t which if there’s no HD icon then it SD.
a75a245400d52d2a8bc5f7e30d0d7023.jpg


If you’re buying directly via the AppleTV then you need to make sure that Limit Purchases and Rentals to SD is switched off.
3a80f7cc8f4f081efe9987b8e061ddb4.jpg
 

Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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How do i actually purchase HD content or at least 4K content then? there's zero options for even ATV+ content. They just play in SD all the time! I've adjusted the streaming quality to no avail and disabled quick start but those don't seem to do anything.
There's something wrong with your settings, your equipment, or your network connection. ATV+ does not have any SD-only content.

Babylon 5 and Deepspace 9 aren't available in HD anywhere. Farscape is, however, it's not real 1080p since the show was mastered on SD video (but the upscaled HD version on iTunes or Blu-ray still looks better than the DVDs since it was taken from a PAL resolution master tape and doesn't suffer as much from compression artifacts).
 

HDFan

Contributor
Jun 30, 2007
3,181
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The CGI effects in SD for Bab5 are terrible!!!
Babylon 5 and ST: DS9 are not available in HD and will never be

I consider Babylon the greatest SciFi series storyline ever. Visually not that great, due to a limited budget, but very challenging to try to figure out what is actually happening. They planned all 5 years in advance which makes it unique. They did consider moving to HD, but the effects are SD and it would be too expensive to redo them.
 
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nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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I have never been offered an HD option not even for movies. It just has 'buy movie' or 'buy season' or 'buy series'. I've never had the option for SD or HD or whatever. I'm using the ATV itself to make the purchases (your screenshots show the iOS version) and my 'limit purchases and rentals to sd' has always been 'off' and is still set to off.

The only thing I notice is that Farscape scales to the resolution of the TV, but remains SD in quality (extremely pixelated) and the TV info shows '480p SD' as the mode. I have tried forcing the ATV to 'better' video resolution and turned 'Quick Start' to 'off' but noticed no difference, other than it seemingly forcing a higher resolution for all the shows, the TV now showing '1080p HD' as the mode, but I think it's just doing that for the menus, not the content.

I agree with Babylon 5 being one of the best sci-fi ever. I discovered it back on Amazon when it was available on Prime (alas, it disappeared and was non-purchasable when I got into Season 3, where it starts really getting good) and on Amazon it was in HD and even the very dated CGI effects looked far better than they do on the ATV. The ATV it's like playing Spyro the Dragon from Playstation 1 on a flat panel TV. It's like the way it's being shown would work far better on a 25" CRT. Interiors and characters though, seem to be in good quality. I wish there were some way to force it to play HD or up-convert it somehow. I keep Googling but only come up with ways to force SD quality (why would anyone want that?!)

FYI when I said that Babylon 5's CGI effects were terrible, I meant the way it's being displayed on my 65" 4K TV. On a CRT back in 1993, it was likely quite amazing, and even if dated today, the effects would be far better looking if it were scaled to UHD.
 

-Gonzo-

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Nov 14, 2015
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You don’t get given an option upon buying, the only option is making sure you’re on the either SD or HD for TV(SD or Higher Quality for Movies) page if using iOS.
Apple TV will always be the higher quality option unless you’ve specified otherwise.
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
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What do you see if you go to the "Library" tab in the TV app and click on Farscape? If you have the HD version, it should look like this (mine currently doesn't load episode thumbnails for some reason). Note the "HD" icon next to the release date. If you buy a show in SD, there is no icon.


Untitled.jpg
 

nickdalzell1

macrumors 68000
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Dec 8, 2019
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No HD logo at all. But again, I have 'purchases limited to SD' turned off, and I was NEVER offered the option for HD EVER since I got the ATV. I just assumed since it was an Apple TV 4K, it only offered HD or 4K content. Even movies don't offer any option to purchase anything other than 'buy item'. I'm literally never offered an option for higher resolution. period. It really bugs me. SD on a 65" TV is horrid. I am in the U.S. too. I just never got any option to purchase any show, even Farscape, as HD or 4K. Never even see a 4K icon on ATV+ content either.

The lowest resolution I've ever set my ATV to is 1080p SDR, mainly to ditch those infuriating black bars on the sides that drive me crazy when I have to watch 480p content, which is about 90% the time. The only exceptions are Stargate shows such as Atlantis or Universe, or Star Trek Enterprise.

But if when making purchases on the ATV itself, if I really am offered the highest quality option by default, why am I only getting the SD version of Farscape?
 

Rigby

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I have no explanation. As far as I know, it's not possible to buy SD versions of content that is available in HD/4K directly on the Apple TV, even if you want to. But I have no experience with that because I buy either in iTunes on my Mojave Mac, or in the iTunes Store app on iOS.
 

-Gonzo-

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2015
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No HD logo at all. But again, I have 'purchases limited to SD' turned off, and I was NEVER offered the option for HD EVER since I got the ATV. I just assumed since it was an Apple TV 4K, it only offered HD or 4K content. Even movies don't offer any option to purchase anything other than 'buy item'. I'm literally never offered an option for higher resolution. period. It really bugs me. SD on a 65" TV is horrid. I am in the U.S. too. I just never got any option to purchase any show, even Farscape, as HD or 4K. Never even see a 4K icon on ATV+ content either.

The lowest resolution I've ever set my ATV to is 1080p SDR, mainly to ditch those infuriating black bars on the sides that drive me crazy when I have to watch 480p content, which is about 90% the time. The only exceptions are Stargate shows such as Atlantis or Universe, or Star Trek Enterprise.

But if when making purchases on the ATV itself, if I really am offered the highest quality option by default, why am I only getting the SD version of Farscape?

Annoying black bars? You will only get black bars on the sides when playing back 4:3 content which is how it should be.
If you’re not even seeing a 4K icon with ATV+ then as a guess I’d say you either don’t have Quick Start set to On as it needs to be on to get the 4K stream or you don’t have the ATV set to a 4K resolution.
I was a little confused by your earlier post saying your TV info reported 480p SD as your TV should report the resolution what your AppleTV has been set to as there is no resolution matching as it only matches frame rate and dynamic range.
Regardless of what content is playing if you’ve set your TV to a 4K resolution then your TV should report than no matter if your playing back HD or SD content.
So what video setting have you got it set at?
 

ipponrg

macrumors 68020
Oct 15, 2008
2,249
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No HD logo at all. But again, I have 'purchases limited to SD' turned off, and I was NEVER offered the option for HD EVER since I got the ATV. I just assumed since it was an Apple TV 4K, it only offered HD or 4K content. Even movies don't offer any option to purchase anything other than 'buy item'. I'm literally never offered an option for higher resolution. period. It really bugs me. SD on a 65" TV is horrid. I am in the U.S. too. I just never got any option to purchase any show, even Farscape, as HD or 4K. Never even see a 4K icon on ATV+ content either.

The lowest resolution I've ever set my ATV to is 1080p SDR, mainly to ditch those infuriating black bars on the sides that drive me crazy when I have to watch 480p content, which is about 90% the time. The only exceptions are Stargate shows such as Atlantis or Universe, or Star Trek Enterprise.

But if when making purchases on the ATV itself, if I really am offered the highest quality option by default, why am I only getting the SD version of Farscape?

On my Mac, there is no option to buy the 4K or full HD variant of Babylon 5. You can see the final season/episode is only available in SD.

1601158518382.png


To contrast, this is what it shows for Big Bang Theory.

1601158660638.png


Farscape has options to buy the complete show in SD/HD. I think if you buy the show, you get the HD for free. I would double check your Apple TV settings that it's outputting 1080p to your TV.

1601158769486.png
 

nickdalzell1

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Dec 8, 2019
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My TV (Vizio) changes resolution when going from any menu to watching content. For example, If i select an ATV+ show, such as The Morning Show, it shows the info tab on my TV (the TV's tab shows, nothing is being done on the ATV) with it switching from 1080p to 2160p HDR10. If I select Star Trek DS9, it shows it going from 1080p (which it's currently set at now) to 480p SD.

I keep seeing remarks online that the Apple TV 4K upscales any content to 4K if you're set to 4K if you turn off Match Content and Frame Rate, but It still looks SD to me. Very blurry, soft, or pixelated.

I definitely bought the complete Series of Farscape, but on the ATV itself. But it doesn't show any HD tags on any episode, at all. I feel like I've been jipped. But my ATV runs on 13.3, so maybe I'm too out of date? I definitely didn't see any choice of HD or SD on the ATV iTunes app. Just 'buy series'. I selected 'the complete series' and the only option was 'buy series'. That was it.
 

Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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My TV (Vizio) changes resolution when going from any menu to watching content. For example, If i select an ATV+ show, such as The Morning Show, it shows the info tab on my TV (the TV's tab shows, nothing is being done on the ATV) with it switching from 1080p to 2160p HDR10. If I select Star Trek DS9, it shows it going from 1080p (which it's currently set at now) to 480p SD.
Something is very strange. The ATV output mode should not switch to 480p when playing SD content. It should stay at whatever resolution you have configured in the settings and upscale if necessary. It also should not affect the aspect ratio (i.e. you shouldn't be able to make the "black bars" on the sides of 4:3 content go away by changing the output resolution on the ATV).
 

nickdalzell1

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Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
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My TV only allows picture size adjustments in 1080p mode. In 4K mode, the 'stretch' option is greyed out. So when I want a full-screen picture of SD content, I set the ATV to output in 1080p so that option is no longer greyed out and I can resize my TV's picture. If I set the ATV to 4K, I cannot adjust the TV picture size. So I only set my ATV to 4K to watch native wide-screen content. I don't want to get into a debate over why black bars exist, I just hate seeing what appears to be a 25" postage stamp in the middle of my 65" TV when watching content that's stuck in 4:3.

I think what my TV is actually doing is showing at times what quality of picture is coming from the ATV itself. While the menus, etc are in HD, when an SD only show is being played, the TV is showing the resolution of that show. If I am watching something really old like Dennis the Menace from the 1950s, or the Andy Griffith Show, the TV's info menu shows 480p SD. It reverts back to whatever the ATV is set at when returning to the menus. I think this is a symptom of having the ATV connected to a surround sound receiver instead of direct to the TV.

That does not, however, resolve my issues with almost all content giving me a blurry rather low quality SD picture. Just watched some more DS9 just now, and while my TV shows 1080p HD as the resolution, the picture of the content still looks SD. The resolution seems to only apply to the menus, UI of the ATV itself, not the content.

So far, the only shows that are in HD quality are NCIS, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, ATV+ content, and Star Trek Enterprise. Those are the only shows in my library or on other services (Netflix, Hulu) that actually are outputting content in HD or higher. Only ATV+ content seems to scale to 4K, as my TV shows '2160p HDR10' as the source.

OK on my Mac the Farscape show has 'HD' showing on the title, right where the year is. But on my ATV it's definitely not in HD. It's 480p looking, with black bars on left and right if the ATV resolution is set to 4K SDR (which mean's it's NOT upscaling) and full-screen if set to 1080p SDR, but it's still not in HD either way. For some reason, my ATV is stuck in SD only mode despite any settings I make, except when streaming content that's in 4K, such as Apple TV+ content, or movies that are in UHD such as Intersteller and First Man. Shows such as Stargate: Atlantis are in HD proper, and look HD when streaming. But shows like Farscape, DS9, and Family Ties look completely awful on a 65" TV. It's like watching a TV with a dying CRT, very soft, very washed out color.
 
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Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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That does not, however, resolve my issues with almost all content giving me a blurry rather low quality SD picture. Just watched some more DS9 just now, and while my TV shows 1080p HD as the resolution, the picture of the content still looks SD. The resolution seems to only apply to the menus, UI of the ATV itself, not the content.

So far, the only shows that are in HD quality are NCIS, Stargate: Atlantis, Stargate: Universe, ATV+ content, and Star Trek Enterprise. Those are the only shows in my library or on other services (Netflix, Hulu) that actually are outputting content in HD or higher. Only ATV+ content seems to scale to 4K, as my TV shows '2160p HDR10' as the source.
That sounds all perfectly normal. As mentioned above, DS9 simply does not exist in HD. That is the case for many shows produced in the 80s and 90s, when it was common to produce TV content on SD video. Remastering them in HD would require recovering any original film elements (if they still exist), redoing the special effects in HD, and re-editing the entire show, which is hugely expensive. They have done this for a couple of popular shows from this time period (X-Files and Star Trek Next Generation), but not DS9 or Babylon 5.

Older shows (e.g. the original Star Trek from the 60s) were produced on film which has much better resolution than SD video, and newer shows such as the ones you mentioned were natively produced in HD. iTunes currently does not offer TV shows in 4K, so that's why you only see that on select ATV+ and Netflix content.
OK on my Mac the Farscape show has 'HD' showing on the title, right where the year is. But on my ATV it's definitely not in HD.
There you go. As already mentioned, it's not real HD, but PAL SD video upscaled to 1080p.
 
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nickdalzell1

macrumors 68000
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Dec 8, 2019
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Why isn't my ATV upscaling then? Isn't the ATV 4K supposed to upscale all content to whatever resolution you set it for? Because all the SD content just looks SD stretched to fill the screen! It's not upscaling jack! If it could simply be told to output Farscape or any other show where it looks acceptable such as Stargate Atlantis quality I'd be all in for it! I just want decent quality, not PlayStation 1 level pixels!

Oh, and I also got Star Trek: The Next Generation as well and it's also SD quality. Better looking than Bab5 that's for sure but it's stuck in 4:3 forcing me to zoom in to get rid of the postage stamp image.

Either that or maybe I should just consider lugging my 30" 1988 Zenith System 3 from the garage to my living room, at least then the SD stuff wouldn't look like crap. Or if there is an A/V receiver out there that can output all content to 4K HDR that'd be nice too. Something to make up for the awful SD quality.
 
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Rigby

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Aug 5, 2008
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San Jose, CA
Why isn't my ATV upscaling then? Isn't the ATV 4K supposed to upscale all content to whatever resolution you set it for? Because all the SD content just looks SD stretched to fill the screen! It's not upscaling jack!
It does upscale. But it cannot create detail that is not in the source material out of nothing.
If it could simply be told to output Farscape or any other show where it looks acceptable such as Stargate Atlantis quality I'd be all in for it!
That is simply not possible.
Either that or maybe I should just consider lugging my 30" 1988 Zenith System 3 from the garage to my living room, at least then the SD stuff wouldn't look like crap.
You'd probably be surprised how bad it looks by today's standards. It's not as good as you remember it from back then ...
 

nickdalzell1

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Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
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It doesn't appear to be doing anything. The only way it scales to full-screen is by lowering the ATV resolution to 1080p SDR and setting the TV's aspect ratio to 'stretch'. If it were upscaled to HD wouldn't it look more close to Stargate Atlantis quality over fuzzy, dying CRT quality?

I'm certain there's a setting that I've probably inadvertantly set that disabled upscaling of SD content, so if it helps, here's my settings:

Video output resolution: 1080p SDR
Match content and frame rate: on
Zoom: off
Overscan settings: where the 'full-screen' section stops right at the edge of my TV screen


If I set it to 4K SDR, I get black bars on the left and right sides of the screen of any SD show. I cannot adjust aspect ratio in this mode so I switch the ATV resolution to 1080p to fill my screen and enable that option. other wise the settings are identical. If there is a way to set it to 4K SDR and still fill the screen I'm all open to suggestions.
 

Rigby

macrumors 603
Aug 5, 2008
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San Jose, CA
It doesn't appear to be doing anything. The only way it scales to full-screen is by lowering the ATV resolution to 1080p SDR and setting the TV's aspect ratio to 'stretch'. If it were upscaled to HD wouldn't it look more close to Stargate Atlantis quality over fuzzy, dying CRT quality?
No. Upscaling simply extrapolates from the existing pixels in the source material. There are some tricks to make it look slightly better (e.g. by sharpening high-contrast edges and applying anti-aliasing filters), but it will never look as detailed as native HD material.

Stretching (i.e. changing the aspect ratio) is something entirely different and should be avoided (since it obviously either distorts the image or cuts off parts of it), black bars or not.
 

-Gonzo-

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2015
831
387
OK on my Mac the Farscape show has 'HD' showing on the title, right where the year is. But on my ATV it's definitely not in HD. It's 480p looking, with black bars on left and right if the ATV resolution is set to 4K SDR (which mean's it's NOT upscaling) and full-screen if set to 1080p SDR, but it's still not in HD either way. For some reason, my ATV is stuck in SD only mode despite any settings I make, except when streaming content that's in 4K, such as Apple TV+ content, or movies that are in UHD such as Intersteller and First Man. Shows such as Stargate: Atlantis are in HD proper, and look HD when streaming. But shows like Farscape, DS9, and Family Ties look completely awful on a 65" TV. It's like watching a TV with a dying CRT, very soft, very washed out color.

When you playback these shows what actually shows in the info bar.
(Swipe down if via the TV shows app, Press Menu if via the atv app)
TV Shows app:
f6850df28110e1040254aa476a53942c.jpg


atv app:
2fabc88ff0ec4b91c635fe38fd28d9aa.jpg


To a certain extent I’d say you’re causing your own issue with the non widescreen shows anyway as you’re artificially expanding the picture beyond its own pixel count.
What your TV is doing to make it fill the screen is turning smaller pixels into larger pixels which could explain the pixelation you’re seeing.
 
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nickdalzell1

macrumors 68000
Original poster
Dec 8, 2019
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IMG_0145.JPG


nothing shows other than closed caption settings. That includes Farscape. I think for some reason, my ATV 4K is not playing in HD (it's in 480p) but on my Mac TV app, it is. Of course, I can't tell quality differences since my Mac is 13" and my TV is 65". I either have to consider lugging my ancient Zenith CRT TV into my living room, or find a stereo receiver more up-to-date that can double the upscaling to a quality I can stand looking at, because right now it's awful. It's like 240p Youtube these days.

I might have to consider updating my tvOS version in hopes it gives me more options or supports whatever the Big Sur TV app is supporting that obviously 13.3 tvOS does not.

I can't stand black bars and a postage stamp image. I bought a 65" TV to use all 65". It has more fine-tuning so it's not stretching beyond the TV screen like cheaper models do that will indeed make it look even worse.

Babylon 5 (I mistakenly said Farscape last night) is actually playing in 16:9 so I leave my ATV to 4K SDR and it isn't stretching the aspect ratio one bit, it's at 'normal' and locked there since my TV won't allow adjustment to aspect ratio if it's in 4K mode (don't ask why, I have no idea) but Babylon 5 looks the worst of all of them. Farscape looks 720p for the most part (I suppose that qualifies technically as 'HD') but Babylon 5 it's like watching 240p Youtube on my MBP. That's without aspect ratio stretching so it's not that which is making the quality that awful. My ATV is either not upscaling one bit, or it's terrible at it. I'm considering upgrading my AV receiver to one that can upconvert input sources to 4K to hopefully improve the quality.

It's just unacceptable in the form it's in. When Amazon carried Babylon 5 it was in HD for sure. It looked great.
 
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-Gonzo-

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2015
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387
Ok so seems you’re playing via the atv App Library?
So instead of swipe down, press menu during playback which will show the info bar towards the bottom and will show a play From Beginning tab to the right.

As for Babylon 5, no amount of upscaling will make a low quality stream look any better as if the source material is poor to begin with then it hasn’t got much to work on.
As the saying goes you can’t polish a turd.
I’ve got a few SD shows myself which vary in terms of quality.
By far the worst of them are Birds of Prey, The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy & Blackadder(Remastered) which are just about watchable.
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum has the odd episode that’s rather poor but overall the rest are not great but very much watchable.
Thunderbirds & Captain Scarlet are not bad at all for an SD stream so certainly no complaints, the same for He-Man which being an animated cartoon usually fairs better with being lower quality than live action does.
 
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