Pros and Cons of buying movies in iTunes?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by danpass, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. danpass macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    Just starting to dive into this possibility so I'm curious what the drawbacks might be to going this route.

  2. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    Con: The quality is garbage compared to Blu Ray
    Pro: It's convenient I guess.
  3. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I feel like there are a lot of cons at this point... in addition to the above,
    - Limited/no extra features (commentary, deleted scenes, etc)
    - No subtitles / CC (I think this is still true?)
    - Can't be lent out, re-sold, etc.

    To me, I'd consider them if they had these disadvantages and were substantially cheaper than other options, but they're not, so when I buy, I buy discs and rip them as needed.... The big disadvantage is that, if I'm going on a flight tomorrow, it's a nuisance to rip movies and have them ready, whereas I could just be downloading them easily enough.
  4. danpass thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    Ok, I was figuring (at this point) that there are more cons than pros.

    I'll look further into backups as a Br reader is only $70 these days so it should be simple (I buy at Best Buy when the Br is on sale :D).
  5. r6girl Administrator/Editor


    Staff Member

    Sep 6, 2003
    While I buy nothing but digital music these days, I haven't made the leap to movies yet. As mkrishnan mentioned, not all iTunes movies offer the same features as a DVD release. Plus, DVDs are still easier for us given our home theater set-up (our Xbox is our DVD player).

    The only time I rent/buy iTunes movies is when I will be traveling and just don't have the time or can't be bothered to rip a DVD beforehand.

    Though I'm sure it will never happen, it would be great if Apple allowed you to burn a purchased movie (copy-protected but still playable on standard DVD players) just once as a back-up method.
  6. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    The biggest con of all is the storage space. My iTunes library is now at around 850GB (mostly due to ripped DVDs and TV Shows). It’s getting to the point where it’s a chore to maintain and I don’t know what to do with it.

    - Convenient
    - Already in a format that can be used across all Apple devices
    - Artwork and Metadata is usually correct and of high quality
    - Chapters with thumbnail support
    - Encode comes from a higher quality source material

    - Typically more expensive (at least compared to Amazon and other retail discounters)
    - Encoded at ~5Mbps compared to ~20-30Mbps for Blu-ray
    - Few movies have Extras
    - Few movies have closed captioning/subtitles
    - Lack of multiple audio tracks (commentary, French, Spanish, etc)
    - Few movies in HD
  7. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Yeah, that is frustrating. The only reason I buy music on CDs anymore is when it's cheaper that way (like if some disc is available for $3 or 4 shipped, used, on Amazon vs. $9.99 on iTunes or Amazon MP3). If there were a good solution for digital video, I would probably be buying that way, too, although I don't buy nearly as much video as music.
  8. SiliBear macrumors member

    Dec 3, 2007
    I'd definitely agree with the Pros listed in the post above (by jaw04005). Convenience is key. The ability to drop any video on any Apple device and take it with you (iPod, iPhone, iPad). I'd also point out the ability to stream iTunes videos wirelessly to your Apple TV is also a huge plus if you have one (I happen to have a few Apple TVs).

    The comments like "video quality sucks compared to Blu-ray" are distortive and practically irrelevant (yes, I said it). The 720p video quality of iTunes HD video is quite good, even while watching on a 100inch video screen.

    My biggest complaint is that there simply aren't enough HD video sources on iTunes to meet my demand. I would personally go "all in" and buy all my future movies through iTunes...if there was a greater selection to choose from. I'm guessing the studios are locked hand in hand with the Blu-ray folks and are keeping 720P HD downloadable video from customers in favor of 1080P disks you need to carry around with you. Tons of movies are available in SD....but the HD variety is totally lacking.
  9. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    The biggest "con" for me is that because of FairPlay DRM, the videos can ONLY be played on iTunes, iPod/iPad, and Apple TV. I can't serve them up to a DLNA device such as my PS3 or a network-equipped TV. And all this talk of Plex, Boxee, XBMC? Forget it.

    On the other hand, downloaded videos from torrents play perfectly well in media player apps and on the PS3.

    Which is unfortunate because there are a lot of pros: they're a legal way to obtain digital media, for one, convenient to download and TV shows appear very quickly after broadcast. Rentals look very convenient, and I have a handful of "DVD Digital Copy" movies too.
  10. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    For me, the biggest con is no extras. The biggest pro, is that it is already formated and I know it will work.
  11. ftaok macrumors 601


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    Well, I haven't bought a DVD in ages because I had been awaiting the winner of the BD/HD-DVD war. (note - I haven't bought an iTunes movie either).

    We had been renting DVDs or borrowing them from family/library for a while now.

    So recently, we picked up the 3-disc set for The Princess and the Frog for $26. This includes the BD, DVD, and digital copy. So we have the Blu-Ray for home (well, when we actually get around to buying a BD player), the DVD for the minivan, and the digital copy for iTunes. It's the best of all worlds. Sure, it costs more, but having all bases covered is a good thing.

    I hope more movie releases come out with the "trifecta".
  12. fpnc macrumors 68000

    Oct 30, 2002
    San Diego, CA
    The problem with iTunes is that the on-line experience is often not an overall win in comparison to the other methods of purchase. What I mean is that when I rate on what are my three most important factors -- convenience, cost, quality -- iTunes movies generally win only on convenience. Cost at best is usually only a tie and quality in most cases is definitely a loss (iTunes standard definition is often worse than a DVD and the iTunes 720p, while pretty good, can't compare to Blu-ray).

    I'd be willing to compromise on one factor if iTunes could at least win on the other two (within reason, for example, I don't want something that looks like a bad copy from well-worn VHS tape even if it is cheap). Or, I'd be happy if iTunes could win on one and at least tie on two.

    What I want is the iTunes convenience with quality that is at least equal to a DVD and at a cost that is comparable to a DVD. I'd call that situation a win, tie, tie which would definitely tip the scales in favor of iTunes.

    As for the HD content on iTunes, that's a compromise in quality which often is difficult to rate as a simple win or loss since it depends upon whether you are comparing to a DVD or a Blu-ray disc. In these cases if the cost is as low as a DVD I'd probably rate the purchase as at least a win, tie (cost), win (quality). Otherwise, if the cost is as high as a Blu-ray disc then the purchase becomes at best a win, tie (cost), loss (quality). As you might expect, I only prefer the former (win, tie, win) while the latter (win, tie, loss) is far too often the case with iTunes HD content.

    When you think of it, however, this is probably just how the content providers/movie studios want it to be. They don't want to give an advantage to iTunes, they actually want it to be viewed as a fairly poor compromise (win only on convenience) from the traditional methods of distribution.
  13. Mac In School macrumors 65816

    Jun 21, 2007
    Same here. I want to watch them via Air Video, and can't do that with iTunes purchases.

    I have no complaints about the HD quality. It's not as good as BR, but it's good enough for me. I might feel differently if I had a bigger TV, but 720p seems to be fine for my 50".
  14. Kieranic Guest

    Apr 23, 2010
    America has iTunes Extras so they usually do have deleted scenes etc. I don't have access to iTunes Extras so I know very little about the extra features.

    My iTunes-brought copy of Team America: World Police comes with Captions... It depends whether the film-company offers it with that particular movie
  15. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    I'm curious if anyone else can comment... does iTunes Extras now mean that most movies have "extra" features that are comparable to or better than what is offered on DVD or BD?
  16. prss14 macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2009
    I don't have Blue Ray and never will. It looks amazing, but I am not repurchasing my dvd's again only to switch to some sort of digital media and have a bunch of discs sitting around. That being said; iTunes SD movies are very disappointing. The few that I have seen look worse than dvd quality. I made the mistake of buying one. iTunes HD looks very good. It is not Blue Ray, but looks way better than dvd's. The main problem here is selection. There are a lot of movies I would purchase but they are only available in SD. So, I just don't buy them. I guess I just don't have enough time to worry about it now.
  17. yancey47 macrumors regular

    May 21, 2008
    Some movies have some extra features on it like deleted scenes and music videos and stuff. It's a pretty slim selection right now but there's usually a new one every week. It would be great if the older movies, not just new releases, got this feature as well.

    iTunes movies rarely ever go on sale and when they do its just a handful of older, lamer films. So while Target and Best Buy have "Up" for 17.99 on Blu-Ray (with a bunch of extras, and a month after release) it's still 19.99 (with some extras) on iTunes.

    Everybody has their own standards as far as quality goes and for me iTunes HD looks and sounds great. I don't doubt that Blu-Ray is superior but I've never had Blu-Ray in the house so I can't compare. But I've never been disappointed with an iTunes purchase.

    The HD movie selection is poor however and I look forward to the day when more and more titles are available.
  18. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    I would suggest that convenience is the key factor.

    Each of us has a point where convenience will outweigh the quality. For some who love BluRay it won't happen right now. Same for those who want the extras.

    Storage size is another factor. In my case, I've purchased all seasons of NCIS in SD. The extra storage requirements for HD didn't justify the higher quality for me. I prefer the smaller files of the SD version.

    While a bit off topic, personally, I love renting movies from the iTMS. For example, Saturday evening my wife and I decided to watch a movie. Rather than getting in the car and making a trip to the local video rental store, we just rented from iTMS. Quick, easy and very convenient -- and the store is open 24 hours per day.

    As for ripping DVDs. My rips never seem to be as good as what I can get from the iTMS. Plus the iTMS is much more convenient.
  19. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    South Dakota, USA
    You do realize that a BD player will also play all of your DVDs. Right? You don't need to repurchase those movies. I only replaced a few of my very favorite DVDs with BD's because I really wanted them in HD. For the most part, I still have my DVDs and just started adding BDs to my movie collection.
  20. prss14 macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2009
    I do realize that you can play dvd's on the Blue Ray player, but if the point is that the quality is so much better then "I" would start hating the old dvd's (and yes I know it upscales). This isn't everyone, but I am ok with skipping the storage of another physical media to only be replaced in a few years.
  21. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    You don't want to take advantage of better technology because you'd rather wait for even better technology?

    I realize you may not want to spend the money on a Blu-ray player (and that's a very fair point) but there are starting to be many other advantages. Many BR players (including the PS3) are internet-connected due to the BD-Live spec, and manufacturers often throw in network media playback features. So you can play videos and music off your network servers or off the internet. I will also mention that I think the PS3 (which is my all-in-one media device in the living room) does a very good job of upscaling my DVDs to look good on my 80" projection screen.

    I still buy DVDs. They're not dead yet. I only buy Blu-Ray versions of movies that I really enjoy or would really benefit (Lord of the Rings, for example).
  22. steviem macrumors 68020


    May 26, 2006
    New York, Baby!
    I don't want to touch another piece of optical media ever again.

    There, I said it.

    However, I have been getting my Movies and TV Shows in ways I shouldn't (including buying those nasty, fragile discs and ripping them to my computer) and have been slow to commit to buying from iTunes.

    Whilst I can't stream to my PS3 (or want to buy an AppleTV) with iTunes purchased video, I'm very wary of whether to buy it or not.

    I wanted to see what other offerings there are, but no other companies seem to be offering TV and Movies the way I'd like them to.

    Although, the video I watch has changed. I feel that getting an Apple TV would be worth it to me. I'm ready to be 'locked in' to Apple for my media delivery.

    I went to see 'Valentine's Day' with my fiancée in February, and well, the movie going experience was NOT to my liking. It really was worse than watching a CAM copy of the film. The quality of the film was excellent, but the people we shared the cinema with made the money spent on going there a complete waste.

    I think the TV shows that I watch and wan to keep are on iTunes, so are the films I like. Then the podcasts I like to watch are there too. The main problem I have with sharing to my PS3 is I can't track whether the shows I watch have a watched status. That annoys me a little.

    All in all, I think that digital delivery is the future and I don't care too much about the 'Extras' or commentaries. If you are willing to get an Apple TV, then buying from the iTunes Store is probably your best option (if you want to be legal... which of course you want to be).
  23. notjustjay macrumors 603


    Sep 19, 2003
    Canada, eh?
    I do want to be legal, but I can buy a legal DVD for as little as $5 in the used bin at Blockbuster or the discount bin at Wal-Mart, and that DVD contains bonus features and subtitles and multiple audio tracks. I just don't see paying $20 for the movie only from iTunes. The ONLY advantage of doing this is convenience and immediacy (I can buy the movie the same day it's released).

    I'm going to look into ripping my DVDs to VOBs, ISOs, or VIDEO_TS folders, this could be an acceptable compromise. I know I could rip all my DVDs to MP4 or Xvid or the like but I just don't have the patience to spend hours doing that.
  24. danpass thread starter macrumors 68020


    Jun 27, 2009
    Miami, FL
    Thanks. Clearly too many cons.

    I've started ripping my Blu-rays to the hard drive in anticipation of an iPad.

    makemkv (stripped down to the meat of the Br) >>> handrake (universal, none/anamorphic, maintain ratio)
  25. kiranmk2 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 4, 2008
    Far too many cons. The main pro is that it is convenient ans saves so much physical space: instead of taking up shelves and shelves with cases, everything is contained on a small hard drive tucked away (and backed up to another one).

    The problems are:

    Bit-rate needs to be doubled to match BluRay (1080p has 2.25 more pixels so a 1080p bitrate of 25 Mbps would need around 11 Mbps at 720p)

    Limited extras (no PiP, branching and commetaries - all my DVD rips have commentaries)

    No original language tracks (especially for foreign films)

    Not DTS or HD audio

    DRM - If the iTMS store closes or the films can't be authorised, your films won't play

    too expensive given the lower resolution/barebones nature compared to BluRays

    It's a shame as I'd really like to download films (purely because of the space-saving aspects), but I can't even come close to justifying it yet.

Share This Page