Will Apple TV play my movies better than my iMac?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by tom5304, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. tom5304 macrumors regular

    May 7, 2005
    Before I start converting all my DVDs to MP4 format for an Apple TV that I haven't even bought yet, I have a question:

    When I play a regular DVD on my year-old 20" iMac, I have to play it at less than full-screen if I want the picture quality to be sharp.

    If playing regular DVDs full-screen on my iMac really diminishes the video quality, how would a little Apple TV be able to play compressed MP4 files onto my television and have better quality than what I'm seeing on my iMac?

    If anyone could reassure me that the video quality will be better on an Apple TV than it would on my iMac, I'd really appreciate it.
  2. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    Get Boxee (it's free) and keep your DVDs as DVD images on your network. You can use Mac The Ripper to do this. No need to convert to .mp4 files and both lose your express and compress the picture.
  3. wmealer macrumors regular

    May 7, 2006
    You need to understand that DVDs are standard definition (720x480). Playing a DVD at full screen upscales (stretches) the picture to fit your iMac's larger screen resolution (1680x1050). If it bothers you on your iMac, it will probably bother you on your TV, especially if your TV is 1080p (1920x1080). Of course, you won't notice it as much as long as you don't sit 18"-24" away from your TV. ;) Step back maybe 4-5 feet while playing it on your iMac, and that will be a pretty good gauge as to how it will look on a 42" TV at 8-10 feet.

    My TV is 720p, so ripped DVD content still looks pretty sharp.
  4. dXTC macrumors 68020


    Oct 30, 2006
    Up, up in my studio, studio
    I had said something here before about DVD resolution, but wmealer beat me to it.

    I have a 46", 1080p TV. When I watch standard DVDs on it, the result is not unwatchable, but it's not absolutely perfect, either.

    When encoding standard DVDs into MP4 for your AppleTV to show on a large-screen or HDTV, use the highest bitrate and/or resolution your storage medium allows, so that compression artifacts are kept to a minimum.

    Alternately, you can consider Boxee, as netdog has suggested.
  5. akm3 macrumors 68020

    Nov 15, 2007
    When you guys recommend Boxee, do you mean on the iMac or on a hacked AppleTV?

    What exactly IS Boxee? (I get it is a 'social network' for video content...but what does that MEAN?)
  6. spice weasel macrumors 65816

    Jul 25, 2003
    Boxee is a hack for your ATV that lets you play an assortment of video and audio file types not supported natively by the ATV. This means you can play DVD disk images rather than having to convert them to mp4s. Boxee also allows you access to streaming content from CBS, Comedy Central, Hulu, and other internet sites.

    As others have said, watching a movie a foot or so from a computer screen is not the same as watching a 480P DVD on a HDTV in a living room. I've converted all my DVDs to mp4, and I think the quality looks pretty much exactly as I get from a DVD. The upside is that I can fit a lot more movies on my drive before filling it up. The downside is the time to encode.
  7. Chris Rogers macrumors 6502a

    Chris Rogers

    Jul 8, 2008
    my house
    I want to clarify 1 point. The internet streaming is much more than going to the website. It's almost like a visual juke box. So, no logins or anything like that (besides logging into Boxee). It's as if it were right on your ATV.

    I make all of mine mp4s too.

    Someone on here gave me a tip maybe you can find helpful - Set your movies to encode overnight in a queue of however many you want.
  8. Robbadore64 macrumors regular

    Jan 7, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I have a 52" 1080p LCD that I sit about 14 feet away from when watching ripped movies via AppleTV and I think it's great. Doesn't look to me any different than just playing a DVD. Granted, I've yet to get a blu-ray player to actually take advantage of 1080p so as to see the huge difference.

    I just think the issue you have when viewing on your iMac won't be an issue on the tele.

    And the boxee idea is legit, I have boxee and just use it to fart around with when I'm bored. But if you plan to store a lot of movies on your mac/appleTV then you're going to be using up a ton of space if you leave disc images on there @ 7ish gigs a piece vs. 2ish gigs a piece for ripped movies. And if your at all OCD like me then you'll want your movies organized with pretty poster art, actors, directors, and brief plot listed etc.

    Oh, and it's nice not EVER having to grab a DVD or even look at them, once I rip a DVD it goes into a box in my closet... The only reason I even have a DVD player is you never know when someone will bring one over to watch.
  9. tom5304 thread starter macrumors regular

    May 7, 2005
    Thanks for all the kind replies.

    I think I overlooked the issue of viewing distance, so I appreciate being reminded of that. I was watching a movie from usual computer distance and the action scenes were hard to follow. Also, you see EVERY defect when watching from two feet.

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