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Apple could test limited iTunes HD+ 1080p movie service

post #1 of 78
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Apple as early as this fall may choose to test the waters for 1080p video sales through its ubiquitous iTunes service, AppleInsider has been advised.

Thus far, 1080p HD content has largely eluded users of Apple products, with HD versions of videos on the company's digital download service maxing out 720p (1280x720) and chief executive Steve Jobs balking at adoption of Blu-ray on Macs due to licensing complications and other challenges that he said threatened to translate into a "bag of hurt."

But that could begin to change later this year, as a handful of feature films being submitted to the iTunes Store for a release in the September and October timeframe are being sent with documentation for an optional 1920x1080 resolution, according to people familiar with the matter.

For instance, one such film from 20th Century Fox was said to have arrived with encoding options for SD (480p), HD (720p), and a new, third format listed as HD+ (1080p). Similarly, a small number of upcoming releases from two of the other 'big 5' movie studios were submitted with optional resolutions of 1920x1080 and an average bitrate encoding of 10,000 kbps.

According to these same people, there have been rumors inside the company of a new version of Apple's $99 Apple TV device under development that would be capable of outputting 1080p streams via an upgrade to the company's new A5 chip, unlike the existing model which can accept 1080p content but downscales all output to 720p due to the lack of horsepower in the device's first-generation A4 processor.

Word of films making their way to iTunes with options for the new HD+ format come just weeks after early builds of Apple's upcoming iOS 5.0 software were discovered to include a new video player capable of displaying and syncing 1080p content on the iPad 2. The second-generation tablet is the first Apple product to sport the company's brawnier A5 chip, which could similarly pave the way for 1080p HD playback capabilities via future iPhones and next-generation Apple TVs, when it makes its way to those devices.



Asked whether the company currently sports the backend capabilities to begin serving 1080p video files to the mass market, people close to Apple's content distribution partners affirmed the iTunes operator already maintains such technology. The challenge, they say, remains on the consumer end, where users opting to stream such massive files in near real-time would require a stable downlink in the realm of 10 megabits per second.

Residential high-speed connections of that stature aren't exactly rare in the U.S. but they aren't commonplace either. For example, Akamai's latest "State of the Internet Report" found that the average connection speed in the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2010 was just 5.1 megabits, or roughly half of what would be needed to stream 1080p content without having to wait an extended period of time for the content to buffer.



The same report found that 36% of the U.S. internet connections exceeded 5 megabits, which was up 12% from the prior year. As for the average connection across the entire states, growth came in at just over 9% from the fourth quarter of 2009 to the fourth quarter of 2010.

Should Apple choose to move forward with limited 1080p releases on the iTunes Store this year, it could chose to do so as direct downloads to Macs or PCs only. Alternatively, it could offer them selectively to owners of an updated Apple TV that would only display HD+ options to consumers whose internet connection it validated as sufficient.
post #2 of 78
That chart is pure BS. Lithuania is one of top 5 or even top 3 countries in Europe. Whole country is one huge optic network.

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post #3 of 78
Who cares about the 1080p spec... what will the compression ratio be? It doesn't matter if they have 60 frames a second at full resolution if all of those pixels are filled with macroblocks during any sort of motion.
post #4 of 78
1080p doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most areas of the US. Unless homes are wired with Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic lines), or other stable high-speed line downloads would take an eternity. It might make more sense as a delivery option for T1 wired hotels.

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post #5 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

1080p doesn't make a whole lot of sense for most areas of the US. Unless homes are wired with Verizon's FiOS (fiber optic lines), or other stable high-speed line downloads would take an eternity. It might make more sense as a delivery option for T1 or T3 wired hotels.

and it is not FIOS - 50Mbps down and 5Mbps up - with cable - and Netflix works really well on a variety of devices in the house. true not all of the Netflix catalog is HD source material.
post #6 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Povilas View Post

That chart is pure BS. Lithuania is one of top 5 or even top 3 countries in Europe. Whole country is one huge optic network.

Eurostat disagrees with you. There is a difference between fibre optic networks being present and households being connected to them.
post #7 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

and it is not FIOS - 50Mbps down and 5Mbps up - with cable - and Netflix works really well on a variety of devices in the house. true not all of the Netflix catalog is HD source material.

I have no special knowledge of Netflix' catalog, but if I were to guess, I'd say their top quality looks to be 720p.

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post #8 of 78
I would be willing to buy a 1080p movie and download it, stream? Nope.
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post #9 of 78
I have a 27in iMac so would welcome this. They mention a bitrate of 10Mbit, but Blu Ray starts at 36Mbit, and in some ways that is more important than resolution. And Blu Ray uses H.264 which is the same codec Apple uses, so the bitrates should be directly comparable.

But it's still an improvement, and 3.5 times the bitrate truly would be impractical to download. But it shows that studios are not opposed to upping the quality of downloads over time, so I think the writing is on the wall for Blu Ray.
post #10 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I have no special knowledge of Netflix' catalog, but if I were to guess, I'd say their top quality looks to be 720p.

My point was that regardless of what is done with 1080 content - much of the Netflix catalog is by design older and or more obscure titles - where the original source material predates even 480p.

So talking about the first 3 or 4 titles being offered in 1080p doesn't really interest me much if I have to pay $4 each to watch them. Not that I have anything against higher quality and have the internet speed and 65" TV to watch it - but for $8 a month I will watch a few dozen Netflix movies and or TV shows and that works for me.
post #11 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Who cares about the 1080p spec... what will the compression ratio be? It doesn't matter if they have 60 frames a second at full resolution if all of those pixels are filled with macroblocks during any sort of motion.

I care.

Where in the article did Apple say it was implementing it? There are merely testing it, and trying to get ideas. Are you implying that since most homes are not ready for it, that they shouldn't even bother?

How many mouths have been shooting off about Apple not providing HD-level movies - all the same time knowing Netflix doesn't even off it? The next thing that'll happen is that should home-bandwidth get to that point, those same mouths will shoot off about Apple (yet again) not being ready for prime time.

Can't seem to win no matter what.
post #12 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

I have a 27in iMac so would welcome this. They mention a bitrate of 10Mbit, but Blu Ray starts at 36Mbit, and in some ways that is more important than resolution. And Blu Ray uses H.264 which is the same codec Apple uses, so the bitrates should be directly comparable.

But it's still an improvement, and 3.5 times the bitrate truly would be impractical to download. But it shows that studios are not opposed to upping the quality of downloads over time, so I think the writing is on the wall for Blu Ray.

a download could use a higher level of compression or restarted after an interruption, requiring some post processing after download is complete, versus streaming which is less forgiving
post #13 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Eurostat disagrees with you. There is a difference between fibre optic networks being present and households being connected to them.

That's what i'm saying. We have one of the best internet penetration level in the world and speed wise too.

Not the first time Eurostat takes numbers out of it's ass.

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post #14 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Povilas View Post

That's what i'm saying. We have one of the best internet penetration level in the world and speed wise too.

Not the first time Eurostat takes numbers out of it's ass.

Link to an alternative source? Eurostat will be getting their numbers from the Lithuanian stat agency.
post #15 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

I would be willing to buy a 1080p movie and download it, stream? Nope.

I would be just the opposite. I'll definitely rent 1080p. Buy? Blu-Ray and rip it myself.
post #16 of 78
It's about time. The porn guys have been streaming 1080p for years. Even YouTube/Vimeo/others are streaming 1080p.
post #17 of 78
Baby steps people.

We've got a long way to go before streaming can match Blu-ray (and even that can be improved upon). So for now, what would be nice is some carrot in front of the horse treatment of having movies available in a quality that entices people to upgrade to faster bandwidth and gives carriers incentive to continue to improve bandwidth.
post #18 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

It's about time. The porn guys have been streaming 1080p for years. Even YouTube/Vimeo/others are streaming 1080p.

You'd rather have 1080p than 720p even if that 1080p had a lower bitrate than Apple's 720p content? I surely wouldn't.
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post #19 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by macslut View Post

Baby steps people.

We've got a long way to go before streaming can match Blu-ray (and even that can be improved upon). So for now, what would be nice is some carrot in front of the horse treatment of having movies available in a quality that entices people to upgrade to faster bandwidth and gives carriers incentive to continue to improve bandwidth.

If it plays on a machine reliably without freaking out about the fact that I connect my monitor by HDMI then it will be a stop above blu-ray.
post #20 of 78
I need some 1080p Doctor Who.
post #21 of 78
Biggest problem I can see with downloading 1080p is disk-space. I've already got around 2 TB of video, if that was 1080p I'd need more like 6TB - and more still for blu-ray bit-rates. At that point I'd have to start refiguring the cost of storage into the cost of the content. Worse I'd need to figure in the hassle of the storage.

On the other hand I really hate the blu-ray experience. I hate the unskippable crap, warnings, adverts etc. I hate the DRM that freaks when I upgrade a graphics card. I hate stacks of physical media cluttering up the place.

I think I'll stick with 720p for a while longer.
post #22 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You'd rather have 1080p than 720p even if that 1080p had a lower bitrate than Apple's 720p content? I surely wouldn't.

Exactly. The fact of the matter is, 720P can easily look better than 1080P depending on how much compression is applied. I would be willing to bet any 1080P stream supplied by anyone will have more compression applied than a 720P stream.

Chances are, most people would be better off with less compressed 720P video than 1080P.

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post #23 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

You'd rather have 1080p than 720p even if that 1080p had a lower bitrate than Apple's 720p content? I surely wouldn't.

Depends on the content.

Note: I use a rabbit ear antenna for the majority of my HD television content.
post #24 of 78
It seems to me that the coming data caps on home internet service are at least as important a consideration as resolution, yet it's not mentioned anywhere. Regularly downloading or streaming 1080p can eat a through 250GB limit very easily. Just last December when I was home from work for extended periods I used more than 450GB in three weeks simply by streaming many Netflix movies and other TV shows. If those has been all 1080p I would have gone over the soft limit much, much sooner.
post #25 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Booga View Post

Who cares about the 1080p spec... what will the compression ratio be? It doesn't matter if they have 60 frames a second at full resolution if all of those pixels are filled with macroblocks during any sort of motion.

Microsoft have been streaming 10mbit 1080p to Xbox 360s for years now and the quality is acceptable, and certainly a huge upgrade from iTunes 720p. Obviously it's not going to come anywhere near blu-ray, but it's definitely very watchable.
post #26 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by kotatsu View Post

Microsoft have been streaming 10mbit 1080p to Xbox 360s for years now and the quality is acceptable, and certainly a huge upgrade from iTunes 720p. Obviously it's not going to come anywhere near blu-ray, but it's definitely very watchable.

Can you supply any evidence that it's now 10Mb/s? Last I read it was just under 4Mb/s.
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post #27 of 78
While everyone else is commenting on 720 v. 1080, I'm dismayed and ashamed, as an American, that we are the 14th on the list. Even some former Soviet-bloc nations have much higher bandwidth average than the good old USA.

We prefer to spend money on propping up dictators and conducting wars, while our infrastructure at home (be it roads, healthcare, Internet, etc.) decays. We encourage greedy Wall Street and Telcos to make as much money from a poor consumer but not provide the state-of-the-art.

It won't be long when we will be left holding the bag and alone as no other country will give a sh*t for who we are.

Very sad.
post #28 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by abarry View Post

While everyone else is commenting on 720 v. 1080, I'm dismayed and ashamed, as an American, that we are the 14th on the list. Even some former Soviet-bloc nations have much higher bandwidth average than the good old USA.

We prefer to spend money on propping up dictators and conducting wars, while our infrastructure at home (be it roads, healthcare, Internet, etc.) decays. We encourage greedy Wall Street and Telcos to make as much money from a poor consumer but not provide the state-of-the-art.

It won't be long when we will be left holding the bag and alone as no other country will give a sh*t for who we are.

Very sad.

Your whole post demonstrates a profound lack of understanding of the world.

Consider the following data

http://www.demographia.com/db-intlua-area2000.htm

Broadband penetration correlates (unsurprisingly) with income per capita and population density. The US is actually doing very well given the incredibly low urban population density, and correspondingly high standard of living, that it enjoys.

The real problem that the USA has today is people like you, who leap to explain everything in terms of your fixed political view, rather than actually looking at facts or considering alternatives.
post #29 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by cvaldes1831 View Post

Depends on the content.

Note: I use a rabbit ear antenna for the majority of my HD television content.

Then you're getting the best HD available. The over the air HD spec devotes WAY more bandwidth to each channel than even FiOS, let alone the paltry cable allotments. That means they can turn the compression way down to close to Blu-Ray levels. The 1080p we get via iTunes wouldn't come close to the 1080p you get on a Blu-Ray. The 1080 and progressive scan at 60fps is only a measure of the maximum resolution, not the total information going over the line. 720p at low compression can look better than 1080p at high compression.
post #30 of 78
My Internet isn't quick enough to stream HD video, it struggles to do do 720.
I also don't have enough data allowance to stream or download movies.

I have films on blu-ray, I'd be a lot happier if I could copy those to my external hdd and stream them via wifi.

Cmon Jobs, we don't all have the ability to stream or download HD movies.
post #31 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

I care.

Where in the article did Apple say it was implementing it? There are merely testing it, and trying to get ideas. Are you implying that since most homes are not ready for it, that they shouldn't even bother?

Can't seem to win no matter what.

He didn't say or any of that or even imply it, he was talking about image quality and how it doesn't necessarily improve just because you add more pixels. He's wrong, but not for the reasons you say.

The Apple encoding offers 1,500kbps for 480p, 4500kbps for 720p and 10,000kbps for 1080p. If we take audio out of the equation, which just muddies things, you'll find that for 480p, 720p and 1080p, there are the same number of kilobytes per pixel per frame - meaning the quality does actually scale with the picture size.

Of course, this doesn't come even close to BluRay.

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post #32 of 78
Another limitation on the utility of 1080p, not only do you need enough bandwidth to download it, and enough storage to hold it, you also need a big enough TV to justify it.
post #33 of 78
Does putting a Breaking News icon and changing the header to red an hour or more after you published the article make it more important?
post #34 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

On the other hand I really hate the blu-ray experience. I hate the unskippable crap, warnings, adverts etc.

Streaming shows from major TV studio web sites are the same way. And Apple fans keep saying how great it will be for broadcast TV and DVR to be replaced by internet streaming. Ironically, one wonders why the entire TV industry hasn't gone to internet streaming sooner, given all the new ways they can control what viewers see and force more ads on everyone. Especially if their web page happens to mysteriously reload in the middle of playing a video, thereby forcing the viewer to watch all the unskippable stuff all over again.
post #35 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by Haggar View Post

Streaming shows from major TV studio web sites are the same way. And Apple fans keep saying how great it will be for broadcast TV and DVR to be replaced by internet streaming. Ironically, one wonders why the entire TV industry hasn't gone to internet streaming sooner, given all the new ways they can control what viewers see and force more ads on everyone.

I'm kinda assuming that this service would work in current iTunes fashion - you pay to buy or rent, but don't have to stream. Increasingly Fox is stuffing extranous crap onto iTunes but at least it puts most of the crap at the end of the show where it's only wasting my storage and not my time.
post #36 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does putting a Breaking News icon and changing the header to red an hour or more after you published the article make it more important?

My working theory is that the guy with the power of the red flashy header is not the same as the guy who wrote the article, but I'll admit - it's a puzzler.
post #37 of 78
People need to quit whining. If you have a crap internet connection, then too bad for you.

Having more options is better, and if somebody wants to watch a movie in 1080p then they should be able to do so. If somebody doesn't want to or can't, then they can simply choose a lower rate.

I'm looking forward to monitors that do more than 16:9, as that is insufficient for watching most movies. I would like a 2.35 :1 monitor at least. And I think that those kind of tv's and monitors will be coming in the future.
post #38 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

Another limitation on the utility of 1080p, not only do you need enough bandwidth to download it, and enough storage to hold it, you also need a big enough TV to justify it.

Not exactly true. I can easily tell the difference between 720p and 1080p on my monitor, and that's not a huge tv. I have a few different monitors, and I can even tell the difference between the two on the 21.5 " monitor.
post #39 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does putting a Breaking News icon and changing the header to red an hour or more after you published the article make it more important?

Quote:
Originally Posted by cloudgazer View Post

My working theory is that the guy with the power of the red flashy header is not the same as the guy who wrote the article, but I'll admit - it's a puzzler.

I was wondering the same thing. I read the story only minutes after being posted, only to come back a half hour later to see it highlighted.....with no update or anything additionally intriguing in the article.

Kasper? Anyone?

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post #40 of 78
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

Does putting a Breaking News icon and changing the header to red an hour or more after you published the article make it more important?

I just had to LMAO...

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