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WTF? iTMS movies look horrible on Apple in-store Sonys - Page 2

post #41 of 82
I've watched my own RIP'd DVD's as well as purchases from iTunes on both my 24" iMac and my 50" Hitachi RPLCD TV via Apple TV. While not HD, I've never had a problem with the quality; it's vastly superior to the artifacted, stretched and washed-out appearance of SD movies on DirecTV. I bought and watched The Rookie on Sunday, and within 5 minutes I was focused on the story not the quality.

I think a lot depends upon your expectations and the upscaling of the TV. I can live with this for now, but I too am hoping for 720p downloads.

...and ONLY 720p downloads. People complaining that they need 1080p are smoking crack. The majority of people don't even have HD sets yet, while the majority of HD owners have either 720p/1080i sets or 1080p sets that DON'T ACCEPT 1080P input!!! Anyone complaining that a good ESPN HD broadcast (720p) is not good enough quality for them is anal to the point of choking on their on colon. The fact is that unless your sitting really close to a really big screen, you can't tell the difference between 1080p and 720p anyway.

Between the size of the downloads and the facts on the TV's, I think a move to 720p would be a complete coup by Apple. It could literally destroy the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD debate. Are those formats 1080p? Sure, just like a CD is better than mp3 quality; but people will choose convience, simplicity, and instant gratification as long as the quality is not noticeably (to average ears/eyes) worse than another alternative.
post #42 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Hmm, I've watched quite a few 640x480 TV shows purchased from iTunes on my iMac display, and I've always felt it looks fine. It's clearly not HD, and I can't say I've gotten up close to look at it, but I've never had a "yech" response like you describe addabox. And I believe the iMac display is higher resolution than that Sony 32".

Interesting you should mention this, as it is my experience as well.

I think part of the issue is the bigger screen. I don't know what size iMac you have, but it's definitely not 32". I've watched some iTMS TV shows and movies on my MBP, which is 15", and I find them to be "OK", but even then there's an element of reduced expectations after looking at stuff in the original iPod res, and there's something about looking at something you downloaded on your (relatively small) computer screen that sets you up for "good enough".

What struck me about the Apple Store set-up is that a big LCD television definitely puts one in mind of DVDs, so when the quality is well short of that it seems like something is wrong.

Maybe something like hearing "cheap boombox" (tinny, muddy, with what bass there is making a a vague froggy sound) level audio coming out of a demo of Airtunes/Airport Express hooked up to a good stereo. We can argue about whether cheap boombox sound is "good enough" in and of itself, but there would be a certain let-down if one heard that sound coming out of a nice stereo system.

In making the transition from computer to TV, I think it changes the expectations of what the video "should" look like. We've all seen a lot of really really terrible quality video on our computers. Our $2,000 flat screens? Not so much.
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post #43 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by pt123 View Post

Yeah, unfortunately one would have to be 50 feet away to mistake what was showing at the Apple store to mistake that for HD or DVD quality.

Exactly.

TenoBell is keep saying how most people will sit 10-15 feet from their TV, but that is just gross generalization. I have 56" set and I sit 9 feet away (using Mac mini). My friend has 37" set and sit at roughly the same distance (using Apple TV). On both instances I can easily see how insufficient iTunes video quality is (DVD looks a tad soft on my set, but not at all objectionable). And let's not even get into how lame stereo audio is.
post #44 of 82
And what is gonna happen when Appletv is in Best Buy displayed side by side with content from DVD players and better devices?
post #45 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pt123 View Post

And what is gonna happen when Appletv is in Best Buy displayed side by side with content from DVD players and better devices?

Worse, the in-store HD feed.

Which, it is interesting to note, looked hideous when they first started doing it, to the point that I was motivated to ask a sales guy why they thought putting butt ugly video on all their TVs was going to move product.

They subsequently got their act together and it looks fine now, so perhaps there is a lesson there.
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post #46 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Interesting you should mention this, as it is my experience as well.

I think part of the issue is the bigger screen. I don't know what size iMac you have, but it's definitely not 32". I've watched some iTMS TV shows and movies on my MBP, which is 15", and I find them to be "OK", but even then there's an element of reduced expectations after looking at stuff in the original iPod res, and there's something about looking at something you downloaded on your (relatively small) computer screen that sets you up for "good enough".

Yeah, that's a good point about size. I was thinking resolution, but obviously, at the same resolution, a larger screen is going to make the same video look worse. But what I don't get is why 640 X 480 video should be so much worse than DVD? Isn't DVD just 720 X 480? Should that difference even be really noticeable? Maybe the compression doesn't play well with the TV?
post #47 of 82
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

Yeah, that's a good point about size. I was thinking resolution, but obviously, at the same resolution, a larger screen is going to make the same video look worse. But what I don't get is why 640 X 480 video should be so much worse than DVD? Isn't DVD just 720 X 480? Should that difference even be really noticeable? Maybe the compression doesn't play well with the TV?

That question is actually why I started the thread. The point is, even though it will be nice when Apple starts offering HD downloads, what they are offering now shouldn't look that bad. With decent scaling and the right display, I know for a fact that 640x480, or even lower, can look what I would call "acceptable".

Which is why I keep coming back to the Sony monitors they're using in the stores. Which, if that is the source of the trouble, is both good news and bad: good, because it can look much better, but bad, because it means Apple is pointlessly degrading people's first impressions.

OTOH, if the scaling problem is at the iTunes/Atv end, there's really no excuse for that. Apple's been (rightly, in my book) criticized for the so-so quality of their software DVD decoding; I can't understand why a company like Apple, so heavily invested in video, video creation, and video distribution wouldn't put all necessary resources into having best of breed codecs.
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post #48 of 82
Quote:
TenoBell is keep saying how most people will sit 10-15 feet from their TV, but that is just gross generalization. I have 56" set and I sit 9 feet away (using Mac mini).

Is all of the seating in your television area arraigned to be 9 feet away? It was a generalization but a pretty safe one. Most people don't set up their living space for the seating priority to be a perfect viewing distance from the television. Most people set up their living space for people in the room to sit and comfortably communicate and interact with each other.

Quote:
DVD looks a tad soft on my set, but not at all objectionable

That is a subjective assessment. I know filmmakers who hate the way their films look on DVD. DVD is not a high quality format it is extremely compressed. When comparing the original image to the DVD the texture and detail of the image is gone, colors are less vivid, blacks are not as strong and sometime a soft shade of gray, detail in the highlights are gone, and you can see some aliasing artifacts. We accept this a compromise in quality for the convenience of a 4.72 inch disc.

Quote:
I was thinking resolution, but obviously, at the same resolution, a larger screen is going to make the same video look worse. But what I don't get is why 640 X 480 video should be so much worse than DVD? Isn't DVD just 720 X 480?

The iTunes movie is more compressed and uses a lower data rate than a high quality DVD uses. Which will result in lower over all picture quality. This compromise is made for the convenience of streaming the movie without waiting hours it would take to stream a DVD. If you are near an Apple store I suggest you check it out yourself and under your own discretion decide if the image is good enough for you.

720P would certainly be a lot better. Apple would still attempt to slim this down as much as possible to make downloading and streaming as easy as possible. So even that won't be the same quality as a 720P HD-DVD or Blu-ray disc.
post #49 of 82
From the Ars Technica review

On an HDTV, the currently-available content from iTunes is obviously not going to take advantage of the TV's capabilities. However, despite some early claims of "blurriness," we found that how the Apple TV displays the content on an HDTV is more akin to what we would describe as "jpeggy-ness" (also known as dithering). The Apple TV is forced to scale up the video resolution for the HDTV, but it attempts to compensate for the expected blurry pixels by anti-aliasing in between to create cleaner lines. We watched a trailer for the movie 300 streamed from the iTunes Store on the 42-inch HDTV along with a handful of young professionals—absolutely none of which batted an eye at the video quality whatsoever (in fact, there were several comments about how good it looked). Regardless, to an HDTV aficionado or anyone looking closely at the lines, the somewhat "painted" look of the video is obvious.
post #50 of 82
Thread Starter 
Ok, I'm posting from the Apple Store now. Couple of things:

The trailers look much better than film clips. If I had been shown the trailer of "300" I wouldn't have squawked either.

Anyone can check it out: go back and forth between the films and trailers, and the difference jumps out at you. The trailers are what I expected the movies to look like: "near DVD", with somewhat more compression artifacting. The films are slightly to somewhat worse than an average VHS recording, with the blocky scaling being somewhat more objectional than just low resolution.

The guy at the store is claiming that trailers stream at the same res as the movie downloads, but who knows if that's true? (Maybe someone could check it out).

He also said that most people looking at the movies immediately ask "Why is it so blurry?" which is just what I feared.
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post #51 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

That is a subjective assessment. I know filmmakers who hate the way their films look on DVD. DVD is not a high quality format it is extremely compressed. When comparing the original image to the DVD the texture and detail of the image is gone, colors are less vivid, blacks are not as strong and sometime a soft shade of gray, detail in the highlights are gone, and you can see some aliasing artifacts. We accept this a compromise in quality for the convenience of a 4.72 inch disc.

...

The iTunes movie is more compressed and uses a lower data rate than a high quality DVD uses. Which will result in lower over all picture quality. This compromise is made for the convenience of streaming the movie without waiting hours it would take to stream a DVD. If you are near an Apple store I suggest you check it out yourself and under your own discretion decide if the image is good enough for you.

No one expects DVDs, iTunes movies, or even Blu-Ray/HD DVD to deliver 100% theatrical experience. Perhaps filmmakers and telecine operators do, but film studios probably don't share their sentiments. Heck, most general public have SDTV or HDTV set at lousy factory default settings (e.g., insanely high brightness, halo inducing sharpness, bluish color temperature). Even with 4K elements, most general public will not experience theatrical presentation that filmmakers intended.

Let's draw some parallels from the audio industry. Audio CD came out about 30 years ago. Most audiophiles and musicians find CD to be inadequate representation of studio master. Due to format war politics, poor marketing, and perhaps even lack of interests, its successors (SACD and DVD-Audio) never caught on. About 25 years later, MP3 succeeded audio CD (although not yet completely), which has near-CD audio quality at best. MP3 is clearly a step backward from audio perspective, but it won due to convenience (smaller file size, ID tagging, online distribution). Most general public can't tell differences between CD and MP3/AAC/WMA ripped at default setting -- and that's good enough for them.

Back to video. As you said, video DVD fails to capture theatrical experience, although it is significantly superior to (when properly encoded and mastered) all of its predecessors in terms of color reproduction, resolution, noise, and convenience. Apple claims near-DVD quality for iTunes movies. If only that's true. Anyone with a decent HDTV, upscaling DVD player, and Apple TV will easily spot the differences between iTunes movies and DVD. One would have to be near blind and/or deaf to not spot significant differences between anamorphic DVD with DD/DTS 5.1 and equivalent iTunes movie. iTunes movies are closer to satellite/digital cable (non HD) than DVD.

The real question is whether iTunes movies are that much more convenient to overcome technical weaknesses. iTunes movies = DVD - subtitles - multiple audio tracks - discrete surround sound - anamorphic video - extra features - navigation menu - rental outlets + online distribution + often cheaper to own pricing + "diskless" immediate viewing. Since Apple TV cannot be used to purchase movies, it's not as convenient as it should be and lack of rental business model is a huge hindrance for most general public.
post #52 of 82
Quote:
Perhaps filmmakers and telecine operators do, but film studios probably don't share their sentiments.

You are right and in fact back in the late 90's when DVD started. Studios were using the same analog D1 source for the DVD master as used for VHS. This D1 master was made from a basic low contrast dupe print with no special color correction no thrills. The DVD's of the time didn't really look much better than VHS.

It took filmmakers to push the studios into spending the money to create higher quality DVD's. Once the studios saw that this actually made them more money, then it became common to have the expensive color correction from a dupe negative, anamorphic encoding , 5.1 DTS.

Quote:
Anyone with a decent HDTV, upscaling DVD player, and Apple TV will easily spot the differences between iTunes movies and DVD. One would have to be near blind and/or deaf to not spot significant differences between anamorphic DVD with DD/DTS 5.1 and equivalent iTunes movie.

I agree, but I would divide the market between those who give a rats ass and those who don't.

There are people who have $10,000 50" HDTV, HD-DVD/ Blu-ray, with the full 6.1 DTS system. This person wants 1080 HD high fidelity surround content to play on their system. For this person the current state ATV and iTunes movies is not good enough. I would say there are few people who could afford this type of equipment or anal enough to care that much about HD quality.

Then there are the people who have a 32" HDTV made by some unknown company in China that was purchased on sale at Costco for $999. They have a $89 progressive scan DVD player connected to the TV with S-Video and RCA audio cables. They have two small stereo speakers (perhaps even a subwoofer) connected to the television and have the simulated "surround sound" setting in the DVD player turned on. This person I doubt would care as much about iTunes quality if they found value in the convenience of downloading and streaming without physical media. I would count this type of person as the majority of America.

Quote:
The real question is whether iTunes movies are that much more convenient to overcome technical weaknesses. Since Apple TV cannot be used to purchase movies, it's not as convenient as it should be and lack of rental business model is a huge hindrance for most general public.

I think the biggest hump for Apple to get over is even convincing people of how ATV even works. I don't really know of many people who have even thought to store movies on their computer and stream them to their television. I can think of a few when they see this in action would become more interested in it. The question is how many people out there will really see this as something desirable for them.

I think this is something that would probably catch on with teenagers faster than it would catch on with grown adults.
post #53 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

.......Then there are the people who have a 32" HDTV made by some unknown company in China that was purchased on sale at Costco for $999. They have a $89 progressive scan DVD player connected to the TV with S-Video and RCA audio cables. They have two small stereo speakers (perhaps even a subwoofer) connected to the television and have the simulated "surround sound" setting in the DVD player turned on. This person I doubt would care as much about iTunes quality if they found value in the convenience of downloading and streaming without physical media. I would count this type of person as the majority of America...
.

I think that's most probably true (about the average set-up) but here's the thing: digital technology has changed the terms of the older "good set-up carefully adjusted top quality components expensive" vs. "average to crummy cheap indifferent components set-up".

Time was, there was a vast gulf between the performance of really good stuff and cheap stuff.

Now? The difference between that Costco display and that $90 DVD player and the big Panny plasma with a "reference" DVD player? Not so much. Sure, there's a difference, but the gap between joe sixpack's "hey, let's get us one of them big screen TVs" system and a "luxury" system has been drastically narrowed, in the era of high quality scaling on a cheap chip and broadly used raw panels going into multiple manufacturer's sets.

My point being that you are making an assumption about the discernment of people with cheap systems based on the fact that their systems are, well, cheap, reasoning that they must not care much about image quality if they are willing to buy their display at Costco-- but such a scenario doesn't take into account the fact that the Costco system is actually pretty good, and that price conscious consumers are fully capable of taking note of the fact that twice the price is adding a very modest improvement in perceived quality.

Which doesn't mean, of course, that the same consumers aren't capable of noticing a big drop-off in quality.

I'll warrant that if those Costco systems produced a picture like Apple TV showing iTMS movies, price conscious consumers would still be buying CRTs and good looking flat panels would still be the plaything of the very affluent.
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post #54 of 82
For many years now, people have been able to choose between picture quality and TV size. For the same price, consumers could choose any balance between the two. What continues to baffle audio/videophiles is that the general consumer always chooses a bigger picture over a better picture.

While the iTS video quality is ok by most peoples' standards, it would never satisfy me. On an average size TV, the video quality isn't noticeably degraded (by most people's standards). But on a large screen, digital artifacts are apparent from a few feet away. In an apple store, people are only a few feet from these screens. It would be interesting to know if these artifacts bother your average consumer at such a distance.

So apple had a choice, hook the AppleTVs up to large TVs and impress your average joe with a gigantor picture. Maybe most consumers are still oblivious to even the most obvious compression artifacts. Or they could hook AppleTVs up to small displays and annoy audiophiles slightly less. Talk about a rock and a hard place.
post #55 of 82
Thread Starter 
In the era of flat screen displays, though, the Sony's aren't that big. I've been saying 32", but from my last visit I'm thinking they might be 28". Either way, that's on the small side of current flat panel offerings.

Those sizes would have been quite big in CRT days, but the relative footprint and weight of flat panels have changed that perception.

And as far as average people not noticing, again, I asked the Apple guy point blank what the response had been and he said that pretty much everybody seemed a little concerned about the image quality.

Now granted: most people are probably looking at these things from pretty close up, much as they would look at the display of a computer. But, when you back off, you go from blocky digital artifacts to "blurry", much in the way of a second generation VHS dupe, so I'm not sure I buy the "back off far enough and all is well" argument.
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post #56 of 82
Alright addabox.

I stopped by another Apple store today that wasn't so busy. I had the chance to play with ATV again. The first time the store was really crowded and I had limited time to look through the shows.

I again looked through the music video section and for the most part they looked fine. I looked through the television section. I noticed more compression artifacts with television than with music video, but it was still ok for the most part. Then I looked through the movies. And yes the movies absolutely looked the worst of the three. "O' Brother Where Art Thou" was the worst of them all it looked absolutely horrendous. I imagine Roger Deakins would be mortified.

Looking at the pattern from what I can see more compression is added the longer the content is. Music video being around 5 minutes does not receive much compression. Television shows being half/hour to an hour long receive more compression more artifacts but are still ok. Movies being 90 - 120 minutes receive the most compression and the results are pretty bad.

Actually the movies varied from ok to completely unacceptable. Animated movies seemed to have the least artifacts while live action had the worst artifacts. "O' Brother Where Art Thou" was completely horrible.

I still have to say though that I've seen people watching bootleg DVD's that looked even worse than that, and they seemed to think it was fine. But I agree with you addabox those movies looked bad.

If and when I ever own an AppleTV its likely most if not all of the content will be ripped from DVD's the same way the far major of the music on my iPod is from CD's.
post #57 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

but the gap between joe sixpack's "hey, let's get us one of them big screen TVs"

Wow you guys really look down on your fellow americans don't you?
So many of you guys have refered to other people as joe sixpack or something slightly demeaning instead of just "joe average" and always give them border line hick dialogue.
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post #58 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ecking View Post

Wow you guys really look down on your fellow americans don't you?
So many of you guys have refered to other people as joe sixpack or something slightly demeaning instead of just "joe average" and always give them border line hick dialogue.

I grew up in Alabama. "Those people" are my family, and that's how they talk.

"Joe Sixpack", on the other hand, is a widely used colloquialism for "average working guy", and not generally thought of as derogatory.
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post #59 of 82
I like ATV. Its a good start for such a product.

Mine is set to 1080i on my two year old 32 inch crt HDTV using the HDMI connection. Downloaded movies from iTunes and ripped DVDs look better than SD digital cable and not as good as the HD channels on cable. Compared to the original DVD, about 90% as good.

I would describe the quality as watchable and it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the movie.

However, I went to an Apple Store today and the picture quality didn't look as nice as what I have at home. Go figure, maybe a bad demo movie?!
post #60 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

Geez, this is no surprise coming from people who have already been vocal detractors of ATV.

I can confirm that it looks bad, just listening to others in the store talk, saying things like "that sucks" "gee, apperantly you cant just blow up an ipod screen" and my favorite "why are the icons made out of little blocks? the same ones on the iMac here look smooth and pretty"



ya know, after seeing the ATV, Tivo HD seems a like quite a bargin.
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post #61 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I grew up in Alabama. "Those people" are my family, and that's how they talk.

Oops.

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"Joe Sixpack", on the other hand, is a widely used colloquialism for "average working guy", and not generally thought of as derogatory.

Did not know that.
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post #62 of 82
Quote:
Geez, this is no surprise coming from people who have already been vocal detractors of ATV.

I stand by that statement. Anytime anything negative is said about ATV, the same chorus comes out proclaiming its doomed to fail. This is being said with total subjectivity and no objectivity. It may fail it may not fail. Most likely Apple will sell a few hundred thousand units which will be a profit and over time Apple will increase ATV functionality the same way it did with the iPod.

The poor movie quality is a compromise. In everyone's complaints that fact is being left out. Few people in the general public would have the patience to wait for hours for a DVD quality download. When we press the buy button most people want instant gratification.

The music videos are the least compressed because no one has a problem waiting 5-10 minutes for a download. Television shows are more compressed but people can wait 20-30 minutes for a download. Apple likely feels people don't have the patience to wait more than an hour for a full movie to download and ready to view. So they've found a bit rate and file size that allows the movie to be fully downloaded in that amount of time and ready to view.

I agree that the movies are overly compressed. I would rather wait a couple of hours for better quality. Ultimately the market will determine if Apple made the best choice. If it shows they haven't I'm sure they will adjust.
post #63 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThaRealest View Post

After trying the major products in this space I'm a vocal detractor of them all. None of them are good enough yet.

Have you tried this?
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post #64 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by TenoBell View Post

anal enough to care that much about HD quality.

You have to be anal to care about quality?
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post #65 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by BRussell View Post

But what I don't get is why 640 X 480 video should be so much worse than DVD? Isn't DVD just 720 X 480? Should that difference even be really noticeable? Maybe the compression doesn't play well with the TV?

There are two things at play here. First, assuming the DVD is anamorphic and the source 16:9, all of those 720x480 pixels are used for the picture. If the source is 2.35:1, around 720 x 363 pixels are used for picture information (the rest make up black bars top and bottom of the image). iTunes Movies are not anamorphic. The maximum width is 640 pixels, and the height varies with movie ratio. 16:9 movies are 640 x 360, 2.35:1 movies are 640 x 272. So widescreen movies have 50% more pixels on anamorphic DVD relative to iTunes Movie encodes. Secondly, as discussed already in this thread, is the compression being used. Whilst H.264 is a superior codec to MPEG-2, the Main Profile (as used by iTunes) can't compensate for the drastically lower bitrate relative to DVDs.

Using High Profile H.264 instead would really help, but unfortunately this is even harder to decode than Main Profile, so only the computers with the very fastest CPUs, or hardware-decode assistance, would be able to play the files. And at the moment Apple haven't implemented the High Profile in QuickTime, but that's another matter.

Personally, I think that the files should be at least equal to DVD in terms of resolution, and have at least 1/2 the bitrate of DVD. Yes, increasing the bitrate would mean the files take longer to download, but I feel Apple got the convenience/quality balance wrong on this occasion.

One thing that people haven't mentioned is that increasing the size of downloads doesn't only mean the customer has to wait longer - it also means that Apple have to pay more for bandwidth. Do not underestimate the impact of this. I'm really hoping that Apple are working on some kind of bit-torrent type distribution system to try and work around this problem, with an aim to ultimately offering 720p downloads. This would bring the requirement for another increase in video track bit-rate.

It seems that the consensus in this thread is that the AppleTV image quality problem is the amount of compression used on the iTunes Movie files. I think it may be possible that there is a driver issue on the AppleTV as well. AppleTV uses the GeForce Go 7300 to decode/de-interlace/scale - I don't know how much the quality of this process depends upon driver implementation - could the process be flawed for low-resolution, low bit-rate files? I talked in another thread about how this (hardware decode/de-interlace/scale) should give the AppleTV an upper hand in video quality (relative to a Mac) when driving TVs, but maybe I was mistaken ? How do the same files look when a Mac is playing the same files and outputting to the same TVs?
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post #66 of 82
Hey, what's up with no surround sound with Atv???

Who would shell out all that money for an HDTV and not have at least 5 channel sound? Once Apple finally puts HD content on iTunes, they still won't be able to send surround through Atv...
post #67 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Superbass View Post

Once Apple finally puts HD content on iTunes, they still won't be able to send surround through Atv...

I don't believe that's accurate. The "no discrete surround-sound" problem with the AppleTV is a software one rather than a hardware one.
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post #68 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

I don't believe that's accurate. The "no discrete surround-sound" problem with the AppleTV is a software one rather than a hardware one.

Could be both hardware and software.

Solution 1: Add multi-channel AAC codec to Apple TV and re-encode appropriate iTunes Store contents. Requires HDMI connection and receiver/processor capable of decoding multi-channel AAC (virtually none) or multi-channel LPCM (newer mid- to high-end receivers). If Apple TV had multi-channel analog audio output, just about all receivers/processors would be able to handle multi-channel audio. 5G and 5.5G iPods may require firmware update to handle multi-channel AAC audio.

Solution 2: Same as solution 1, but with Dolby Digital Live. Requires Toslink digital audio connection and receiver/processor capable of decoding Dolby Digital (just about any receivers on the market). Apple will need to pay license and Apple TV may not handle this additional chore while playing 720p video.

Solution 3: Add Dolby Digital (or Dolby Digital Plus) codec to Apple TV, QuickTime Player, and 5G and 5.5G iPods; re-encode appropriate iTunes Store contents. This would be most ideal for consumers, but it will require Apple to pay license to Dolby.

Likely scenario would be solution 1 that requires HDMI connection and receiver/processor capable of processing multi-channel LPCM audio over HDMI.

I think more likely scenario would be none of the above, as in Apple won't do a thing and promote plain vanilla Dolby Surround.
post #69 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdj21ya View Post

I would have to strongly agree. The movies look horrible on the Sony TV's. Here's the interesting thing. I've downloaded several iTS TV Shows and played them through my S-video out port to my 720p Samsung plasma, and they look a whole heck of a lot better than the movies from the Apple TV on the Sony Bravias at the Apple Store. What gives?

I'm late to the thread, apologies if all this has been mentioned, just needed to sound off a few thoughts.

I think Sony always goes for a too "sharp and pure" look with it's LCDs, Still and Video cameras. On my 17" 1280x1024 DVI LCD I can almost taste the bullets whizzing by when playing Ghost Recon A.W. NFS: Most Wanted and FEAR, HL2+ looks sharp and tasty.

For movies: dvdrips, xvids, trailers, I rather watch on my widescreen MacBook, even if it is only 13.3", the contrast and reflections and blockiness of the Sony LCD is not so nice.

Plasmas have *always* had a nice, softer look with velvety blacks.

I think there are two problems here. One is of course the rez and upscaling limitations of the video clips, iTunes Movies, Bravias. Another is that the Bravias are probably 30+inch 1080p-spec'd, and they're LCDs. All this = welcome to block-Town.
post #70 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

...I think it may be possible that there is a driver issue on the AppleTV as well. AppleTV uses the GeForce Go 7300 to decode/de-interlace/scale - I don't know how much the quality of this process depends upon driver implementation - could the process be flawed for low-resolution, low bit-rate files? I talked in another thread about how this (hardware decode/de-interlace/scale) should give the AppleTV an upper hand in video quality (relative to a Mac) when driving TVs, but maybe I was mistaken ? How do the same files look when a Mac is playing the same files and outputting to the same TVs?

On a Mac Pro 2.66ghz QuadXeon 1GB RAM, the 7300GT when driving a 30" Cinema Display, the upscaling is pretty darn good for taking something like a DVD [Matrix(1999)] and bashing it up to 2560 x 1600 pixels. That is 4 megapixels compared to 1920x1080p which is 2 megapixels. A well-encoded (ie no shadow/ dark areas, high contrast film source) 1080p trailer from Apple website upscaled to 2560 x 1600 looks stunning even right in front of a 30" Cinema Display.

Current Mac hardware driving DVI output-input into a Plasma 42" would be a nice setup.
post #71 of 82
NO AppleTV in my neck of the "woods" yet, but LCDs = I'd never game without one ever again (with an LCD I feel I'm getting every pixel worth out of that nVidia GPU) ; at the same time LCDs = I'd never watch big screen video/movie/tv stuff on it.
post #72 of 82
Don't get me started on 1080p film cameras. I'd prefer everything still be shot on super35mm or anamorphic or whatever. FILM. 1080 HDTV even fairly bloody high-end stuff, nice, but Sonys in that range are way too "harsh and sharp". The Panasonics especially prosumer to high-end pro 1080p cameras are nicer, particularly those with variable frame rate (ie, true slow motion). OK. Now back to my nVidia 6600GT... Mmm... smell those pixels....on my Sony ... Heh
post #73 of 82
Thread Starter 
I agree with you completely here, nvidia, I think Apple made a mistake going with those Bravias.

There's still a problem with the movies, but trying to up-res a sub DVD, low bit-rate image to a 1080p display (and I just checked Sony's site, that's definitely what they're using) that tends towards aggressive sharpening is just asking for it. As in, worst case scenario.

I bet if they had used Panny 32" plasmas the results would have been a lot more pleasing.

But I still don't get why. His Jobness is usually so completely anal about this stuff, you know he was all over this roll-out, didn't the fact that a 1080p display device wasn't a good match for what they had to show come up at some point? Didn't he look at, say, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" and say, "Whoops, that's not working, how else can we do this?"

I can only hope that they have plans in the near-term to get higher res stuff on-line, but it sure isn't going to help their case to have what they have now serving as the demo of what Apple Tv can do.

I was at a friend's house last night and we watched some stuff he had dl'ed on his XBox 360, on a 32" Samsung LCD 720p screen, and it looked great. Flawless, even.

Now, this stuff was TV shows, I have no idea what movies look like. And it was a wired connection to the LCD from the XBox, so that may have some bearing on what's possible. And I'm no fan of how MS has set up their store, or their stupid "point" system, or the interface.

But I can't understand how Apple can't have at least some stuff that looked as good as what I watched last night. Or, to put it another way, they better get some stuff that looks that good, if they want to succeed with their living room strategy.
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post #74 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox

.....But I can't understand how Apple can't have at least some stuff that looked as good as what I watched last night. Or, to put it another way, they better get some stuff that looks that good, if they want to succeed with their living room strategy....

Sony made them an offer they couldn't refuse... ...His Steveness IMHO wanted to roll out this convergence stuff, for the "common man", blockiness is a part of life. Satellite TV, for example, some people get it at somewhat blocky MPEG2. HDD recorders, MPEG2, I believe.

It is confusing. Maybe it's the chief of Retail Stores, that decided to go with the latest and sexiest "true 1080p" Bravias. And now most people are like, oops....

Yeah, still, IMHO, iSteve wanted to get this rolling, at current quality and bitrates, and hoping that more studios come on board. Perhaps using Sonys in store was to get Sony Film content ??? ...What do they need for WB? Huge "Neo" and "Morpheus" cardboard cutouts at the Store? ... And LucasFilm? Apple has to THX-certify everything from iPod to AppleTV to all Macs [all of which must now come with THX certified speakers and/or headphones] ...???? ........ Hmmm

Anyway, I'm ready to stick a fork in this one. The whole HDTV/Convergence thing is a bit out of my focus at this stage. In my internship (4th week this week ! OMFG!) I've got to focus on some EDU clients, track down a freakin' HP Designjet dealer price, plus April is BIG for NAB, CS3 official launches and shipping begins, and........ um, yeah, more stuff.... ).

I love Panasonic. Plasma. Progressive HDTV true-slow motion prosumer video cams. Word.
post #75 of 82
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post #76 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

"Joe Sixpack", on the other hand, is a widely used colloquialism for "average working guy", and not generally thought of as derogatory.

I'd say the term "Joe Six-pack" is a common term for a working stiff, HOWEVER, it is dismissive if not derogatory. It's certainly no compliment.

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post #77 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

But I still don't get why. His Jobness is usually so completely anal about this stuff, you know he was all over this roll-out, didn't the fact that a 1080p display device wasn't a good match for what they had to show come up at some point? Didn't he look at, say, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou" and say, "Whoops, that's not working, how else can we do this?"

I think Steve may not have been the 'final OK' on AppleTV. If his fingerprints were all over the thing, he would have talked it up much hotter than he did. Anyone else get that impression.

I got the feeling from Steve that he was Colin Powell trying to convince the UN that Iraq had mobile chemical weapon labs just before we invaded... I didn't buy it, even from him.

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post #78 of 82
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I think Steve may not have been the 'final OK' on AppleTV. If his fingerprints were all over the thing, he would have talked it up much hotter than he did. Anyone else get that impression.

I got the feeling from Steve that he was Colin Powell trying to convince the UN that Iraq had mobile chemical weapon labs just before we invaded... I didn't buy it, even from him.

Maybe, but that's not how Apple works, is it?

From everything I've ever read, Steve is all over everything that comes out of Cupertino. And it's not like they've been releasing hardware left and right so he might have been stretched too thin-- beside the iPhone and the 2G Nano there hasn't been much of anything.

Maybe he got so caught up in the iPhone (which clearly is something he is wildly enthusiastic about) he was captured by his own RDF and just sat at his desk all day with an iPhone going "make picture bigger, make picture smaller, make picture bigger, make picture smaller......"

When they showed him the Apple TV he just sort of went "yeah, sure, uh huh, whatever, make picture bigger......"
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post #79 of 82
I can't even find an Apple TV to check out. Comp USA doesn't have any on display in their Apple section. The ASC is on vacation. Circuit City doesn't have them on display yet. Best Buy had one synced to a Windows PC, but it must've been in the warehouse because I sure as heck couldn't find it!
post #80 of 82
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

Maybe, but that's not how Apple works, is it?

From everything I've ever read, Steve is all over everything that comes out of Cupertino. And it's not like they've been releasing hardware left and right so he might have been stretched too thin-- beside the iPhone and the 2G Nano there hasn't been much of anything.

Maybe he got so caught up in the iPhone (which clearly is something he is wildly enthusiastic about) he was captured by his own RDF and just sat at his desk all day with an iPhone going "make picture bigger, make picture smaller, make picture bigger, make picture smaller......"

When they showed him the Apple TV he just sort of went "yeah, sure, uh huh, whatever, make picture bigger......"

Maybe he was in treatment for his illness at the time? I really don't know, but it is so not Apple... and it sounds even more un-Applish everytime I hear a new disappointing report on it.

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