Shock for a new switcher: Macbook video quality totally sucks ?!!

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by FreddySO, Jun 11, 2007.

  1. FreddySO macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    Please, if any Mac professional or power user could help me?

    Having received my brand new Macbook C2D 2.6 G, 1G Ram, TODAY and having studied several Windows-to-Mac-switcher-guides, I love everything about my Macbook, except one thing, which is so bad that I am thinking of returning to my pc laptop...
    I really hope someone here can help me/enlighten me:
    Here is my problem: I use my computer mostly to watch videos (tv episodes etc) downloaded from usenet servers. These videos are mostly in .avi format. Now on my PC they played very well in Windows Media Player 10, and while the quality was not DVD-like, it was still pretty enjoyable.
    NOW TODAY I WAS SHOCKED WHEN I WATCHED THEM ON MY MACBOOK ! They are totally pixely and blocky and ugly to watch ! I mean, they are still watchable, but you can totally see chunks of pixels, especially when its bright content.

    I have the newest version of VLC player, and I have also tried the DivX for Mac player, the WMP for Mac as well as the Quick time player with Perian addon.
    SOMEONE HELP PLEASE. Is that normal ?!?!?! Could it be that Macs totally suck at playing .avi files ??? If you guys dont believe me / dont know this problem I will have to post screenshots of the Macbook VLC' s chunky pixels in comparison to the smooth/sharper image when playing on PC Windows Media Player!
  2. other macrumors 6502

    Aug 18, 2005
    Please post pictures. I haven't heard about this.
  3. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Do you have Flip4Mac installed? That is the Mac equivalent for the .avi codec (at least it is the best available option).

    Other than that are you trying to play them in full screen mode? What resolution are your avi files?

    I find that playing avi files on my computer comes out with just the same quality as it does when I play them on a PC.
  4. noway macrumors regular


    Jun 11, 2007
    BTW I'm also a new mac user so dont bitch on me if I am wrong...
    but could it be because your Macbook doesnt have a "dedicated graphic card" like the MBP ?
  5. Shaduu macrumors 6502a


    Jan 31, 2007
    I have no idea what you're watching because anything I download from somewhere like Stage6 is always perfect quality.
  6. aethelbert macrumors 601

    Jun 1, 2007
    Chicago, IL, USA
    No, the graphics card wouldn't make this a problem. Your computer should be able to play videos and what not without a problem. Maybe a new codec could help.
  7. Jay42 macrumors 65816


    Jul 14, 2005
    Press Apple-Shift-3 when you're watching the pixely clip. This will snap a screen shot and make a new file on your desktop called "Picture 1." It would probably be helpful to us to see what it looks like.
  8. weeman macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2007
    Can you post pics so we can see how crappy this quality is? Just do a screen shot of it and attach it to your post.

    Oh to do a screen shot: hold shift + apple and press 3

    I have had no problems whatsoever watching things and I have an iBook!
  9. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Mar 17, 2005
    London, UK
    Did your PC have an LCD screen or a CRT screen? CRT screens are far more forgiving for artifacting in poorly encoded materials.
  10. heatasmallhouse macrumors regular

    May 23, 2007
    Heroes off of stage 6 looks great on my MBP. However, strangely enough, about every 5 minutes I get a little stutter yet I never got that on my 12" PB. Maybe the codec just needs to get ironed out for mac users a little better. Really though, spend a few days with OS X and you simply won't be able to stand windows anymore.
  11. daveL macrumors 68020


    Jun 18, 2003
    Not really. .avi is a container format (like .mov on Mac), not a codec. It is obvious that the files he's trying to play are divx/xvid, which can not be played with flip4mac.
  12. quigleybc macrumors 68030


    Jun 17, 2005
    Beautiful Vancouver British Columbia, Canada
    This is odd.

    I have a Macbook

    I watch a ton of TV and Movies on it.

    I even hook it up to a big screen TV and watch em that way,.

    They're not DVD quality, (because they're compressed) but they look fine.

    Have you gone back and forth with the same .avi on a Mac vs PC ?

    Have you tested other stuff? Like pop in a retail DVD and see what that looks like?

    Download something from the iTunes store and see what that looks like?

    maybe your source .AVI's are crap....
  13. millar876 macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2004
    Kilmarnock, Scotland UK
    i think the problem that the op has is because WMP on windows uses some DirectX jiggery-pokery to faff arround with the file and make it look prettier. Turning on the post processing in VLC might achieve similar effects. BUT whatever you use Win or mac, WMP or QT there is no way in heck that a 608x366 (just did a get info on an ep of heroes i have) is going to look great on a screen with the res of a Macbook Pro(1440x900 or 1920x1200), or even a mackbook(1280x800 i think) for that matter.
  14. TheSpecialist macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2007
    The Netherlands, Europe
    What I was thinking about is that maybe the resolution on his former PC was lower then the resolution he has now on the Macbook. That could explain the more pixelated image. Good luck bud.
  15. FreddySO thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    Hi Guys!

    Thanks very much for the quick replys!

    I have just done a screenshot on my macbook, which was very easy thanks to your advice, and then tried to do the same on my windows laptop, which was close to impossible /endlessly complicated, I even downloaded small helper programmes for screenshots, but they didnt work. I then did the screenshot with the snapshot function of VLC, but the picture I got was smaller than the one on the Macbook (170 compared to 380 KB).

    Well, to make it short- when I viewed both screenshots on my Macbook I noticed that the windows one looked the same as the mac one on my mac display, and when I viewed the mac screenshot on my 1024*768 laptop it looked less chunkier!
    Then, I played the exact same .avi file on both computers at the same time to directly compare, and the differnece is undeniable.
    I dont know what to conclude from this. Could it be that the Macbook display cant display as many colours as my pc display? Because I read something about people suing Apple for bad displays.
    I mean, given the fact of the two screenshots both looking pixely/chunky on the mac, and both looking better on the windows laptop, this has GOT to mean the macbook display is in some regard inferior (although i LOVE it otherwise). :eek:

    So, since on the screenshots one DOESNT see the quality difference, I feel kinda stupid, and I guess you guys will think this is all in my head and theres no difference really, but TRUST me I am young (23 yrs) and my eyes are very good and the video looked mich smoother and less chunky on the pc than on the mac. :confused:

    Ok, now I just realized the max file size here is 244 KB so I cant even post the mac screenshot, and hence it doesnt make sence to post the windows one either... gosh, i am kinda frustrated right now :(
  16. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Here's the "problem" you're experiencing. DivX (and other MPEG-4 codecs like it) at low bitrates is NOTORIOUSLY bad at compressing darker colors (especially low saturation darker colors). There tends to be lots of macroblocking there. On PCs you don't notice as much because Windows' default gamma-settings are much higher than the Mac's (2.2 instead of 1.8 as I recall) which crunches dark grays closer to black. Basically, your Mac's default color space is less squeezed, revealing the flaws that were always there but that Window's less accurate color rendering hid.
  17. FreddySO thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    Yup, my windows laptop is 1024*768. But how can that make videos look better, how can a bigger resolution make them look worse? And is there a solution then to the problem? :rolleyes:
  18. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    Your PC is running at 1024 x 768 screen resolution? No wonder the screen looks more pixelated on the Mac as it uses a higher resolution. This is due to the native resolution of the display.

    The Mac screen can display just as many colours as your PC laptop and even if it couldn't it would have no bearing on the pixelation you are experiencing.

    It sounds like you are trying to play them back in fullscreen mode. Play them back at their native resolution (the avi files and by native I mean windowed mode) and your problems will disappear.

    You are trying to display what is essentially low resolution video blown up to full screen and of course that will look shocking on any computer especially if your avi files are badly encoded.
  19. FreddySO thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    Thanks for your answer, thats interesting... how do you explain that the picture quality difference is greates at bright colour content, and for dark content its not even so visible?
  20. FreddySO thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 11, 2007
    Ok, so if you switch to a higher resolution, your videos need to switch up too or they wont look as nice... I am just a bit shocked since I didnt think 1024*768 to 1280*800 would make such a difference...
    So, for watching low-res encoded video files, its better to have a screen with low resolution... it does sound logical, I just didnt didnt think that would have a visible impact...

    So, another (maybe) stupid question: Is there a way to make low res videos look any better?
    For example, can you view them in full screen in smaller size? Because watching them in their native size to me means watching them on the desktop, which doesnt give a nice tv-effect like a black screen / full screen mode.?

    PS: Please be patient with my questions since I got my Mac today and I have never used a Mac before (Although I know that my problem has nothing at all to do with the OS...)
  21. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Because of what you said:

    If I'm understanding what you're saying, they're the same. You're just witnessing color-rendering differences. Aside from making sure you're in Millions of colors mode in System Preferences > Display, the only thing you can do is try setting your Mac's gamma to a more PC-like curve. Go to the Color tab in the aforementioned Display preference pane and click Calibrate, there should be a gamma setting in there.
  22. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    Umm...I am truly shocked that I am the second one to realize this, but yes your resolution is off. It's funny, your apple display because of it's High-Res makes everything visible for example, on my 17"MBP which displays in 1680x1240? (1680 by something, i forget) a background in 1600x1200(standard size) looks a little pixelized.

    The only way to solve the nice tv effect is to do one of two things:
    1. Change your background to black
    2. Change your display, this might sound hard, but it's really quite simple on the Mac:


    1. Go to System Preferences
    2. Click on Displays
    3. On the left you should see resolutions displayed, you may change them there, or you can mark the box to the right, to show it Menu Bar, so now you can with literally TWO clicks, change your display to whatever your movie is native in, allowing you to view them in full screen.

    Thats from the not-so technical aspect of fixing problems...:D
  23. 4np macrumors 6502a


    Feb 23, 2005
    The Netherlands
    Just press 'print screen' in Windows and paste in Paint or Photoshop...
  24. soLoredd macrumors 6502a

    Mar 12, 2007
    Try a 720p TV show encoded to x.264. I guarantee your jaw will drop.

    It also might just be the resolution on your MB is far less than your PC monitor.
  25. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    You must mean more not less.

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