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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > iPhone, iPad & iPod > Quality of Video on AppleTV

Quality of Video on AppleTV
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Mac Enthusiast
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Mar 28, 2007, 06:04 AM
 
Hi all,

I've been going back and forth about getting an AppleTV. I've got a bunch of movies in iTunes, but almost all of them are ones I've ripped using Handbrake (using the H.264 codec). I was wondering if anyone else has done this, and how they look through AppleTV. I'm scared to death to order this thing, set it up, and find out the movies look like crapola.

Thanks for any help,
Tom
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 08:47 AM
 
From what I saw in store, it is similar to vhs/vcd quality.
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Mar 28, 2007, 11:06 AM
 
I assume it looks about as good as if you burned a video DVD with those videos.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 11:40 AM
 
It depends on encoding I think, I recorded some discovery HD (the new planet earth series) straight off the cable line in mpeg2 stream. I used Visual Hub "go nuts setting" to export to Apple TV and it produced a mpeg4 file, it looked gorgeous on my ATV and my Sony 46" HDVT. Couldn't tell a difference between the ATV and the channel on TV.

Other things look worse but they were from different sources or torrents. Widescreen DVDs look pretty good but my DVD player does a better job of upscaling. The ATV is more convient for some things so I just use that.

I messed around with running VLC on it last night but right now its a pain so i'm waiting for a solution so I don't need to encode again
     
Eug
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Mar 28, 2007, 11:47 AM
 
The quality is pretty bad on the stuff I saw in-store. pcguy1 is right. Some of the stuff is almost as bad as VCD.

However, the quality from Handbrake can be noticeably better, depending on how you did the encoding. I was using Handbrake, main profile H.264 at 1.5 Mbps for SD video, and the quality was reasonable (played on my computer).

P.S. Handbrake is now back under development, and at 0.8.0 now.

Here is a thread on settings for Apple TV. Not much there yet, but there will be when more people have an Apple TV.

Originally Posted by zerostar View Post
It depends on encoding I think, I recorded some discovery HD (the new planet earth series) straight off the cable line in mpeg2 stream. I used Visual Hub "go nuts setting" to export to Apple TV and it produced a mpeg4 file, it looked gorgeous on my ATV and my Sony 46" HDVT. Couldn't tell a difference between the ATV and the channel on TV.
Can Visual Hub access the cable box directly (via Firewire)? Or must I export first and then convert? The reason I ask is because I used MPEG Stream to transfer the files from my PVR, and I got .mts files. VLC can play them, but no other software I have (besides MPEG Stream) seems to know what to do with them.

If Visual Hub can't access the cable box, can it read .mts files? I assume it's just the container, wrapped around MPEG2 of course. Or is there something else to .mts files?
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 11:53 AM
 
oof, that sucks.. You''d think they would have them setup with the best content possible.

I just watched 3 HD trailers and the look amazing but they are only 960 X 540 at 30 fps. wonder why that is the limit? shouldn't they be 1280x720? It says it can do 1280x720 but only at 24 fps..

I am encoding HOUSE MD from 1080p MPEG into ATV format MPEG4, will take a while but I will report back tonight. I am using VisualHub on the "best" Apple TV H.264 setting.
     
Eug
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Mar 28, 2007, 12:00 PM
 
Is Visual Hub the app you're using to transfer the video from TV? Or are you using something else for the transfer, and just using Visual Hub to convert it?

960x540x30 = 15552000
1280x720x24 = 22118400
1280x720x30 = 27648000 <-- I guess this is too much for Apple TV to handle.

Anyways, I'm not enamoured with Apple TV's specs yet. I was hoping for 1920x1080x30 support, or 1280x720x30 in the very least. Thus, I'm not going to be getting an Apple TV just yet.
     
mdc
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Mar 28, 2007, 01:00 PM
 
You can get 720p trailers from iTunes which will show up in your Podcasts section and sync over to the AppleTV. Those look amazing in my opinion.

I bought the South Park movie off iTunes last night and that looked about DVD quality played through AppleTV on my 55" 1080i TV. I understand animation will look a lot better than a movie would. The file was around 860mb and I'm please to say that it took about 15 minutes to download.

I honestly think it depends on the source video you are putting on the Apple TV. Like I said, those 720p trailers are gorgeous, but some YouTube video I have encoded (using FLVR) look like YouTube crap.
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 01:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by mdc View Post
You can get 720p trailers from iTunes which will show up in your Podcasts section and sync over to the AppleTV. Those look amazing in my opinion.
Yeah, they look pretty good, but many still have a lot of artifacting. And at 5 Mbps for Apple TV, the artifacting is going to stay with us. Furthermore, several of the 720p videos at Apple are 30 fps and/or are higher than 5 Mbps.

For example, Animusic: Resonant Chamber is 8.4 Mbps and 1280x720p30.

It would be nice if the minimum specs for HD on Apple TV were something like the above. Maybe in 2008... Apple TV HD!

I honestly think it depends on the source video you are putting on the Apple TV.
Of course.
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 07:04 PM
 
I got my Apple TV yesterday and loaded it with several videos in different sizes: a Madonna video ("Express yourself") I bought from the iTunes store, when Apple started to sell music videos for the iPod video; the movie "High fidelity" from the iTunes store; and some HD trailers from Apple's QT site (BBC stuff etc.).

The music video is very blurry, but it is 320x240 only. The movie is 480p widescreen and looks good (near DVD), the HD content looks georgous. Some of the HD stuff I had to re-encode via QT Pro (export to Apple TV option). For lack of an HD DVD or Blue Ray player, Apple TV is my only option to show HD video on my TV. I love it
     
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Mar 28, 2007, 11:24 PM
 
Alright let's get things straight. The stuff they show in store is stuff from iTunes, horrible quality. If you rip your own DVDs using handbrake in a good enough setting or even HD quality then it will look awesome. So quit making a point that the Apple TV has bad picture. Jeez get it straight.
     
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Mar 30, 2007, 05:23 PM
 
Not to hijack the thread, but does anybody know if you can sync movies to apple TV and then delete them off your computer? Or do you need to keep them in both places?
     
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Mar 31, 2007, 02:57 AM
 
Originally Posted by not_too_shabby View Post
Not to hijack the thread, but does anybody know if you can sync movies to apple TV and then delete them off your computer? Or do you need to keep them in both places?
You need to keep them on your computer. If you deleted it from iTunes, it'd be deleted off of your Apple TV during the next sync.

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Mar 31, 2007, 10:48 AM
 
Reading this thread has raised a question: Is it true that you cannot use manual syncing between iTunes and ATV? Sheesh, I don't need copies on both hard drives, especially of movies I "own" and rip myself.
I put "own" in quotes to highlight the contortions folks are going through just to watch their own movies! The real problem here, as always, is DRM. Well, Valenti is dead, perhaps that's a step in the right direction. I wonder what political response we would see if only consumers could be organized around these fair use issues?
     
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Mar 31, 2007, 11:59 AM
 
Regarding the degradation of some transcoded video content to AppleTV -- if you check out the comments to Erica Sadun's O'Reilly MacDevCenter blog, you will see that the degradation to a 960x540 format is due to the ICT (Image Constraint Tag) being present in the video stream courtesy of the content providers, in an attempt to ensure that digitally copied content will not play back as well as the original. Read this for more details on the issue.

Just more tom-foolery from the happy folks at the MPAA. I suspect that Xboxes and PS3s will also have this same phenomenon when it comes to broadcast HD content -- to the extent they are able to deal with broadcast HD content at all.

While there ARE envelope constraints on what the AppleTV will support -- e.g., the 5 Mbps bandwidth limit -- the constraining effect of the ICT tag is why the content from the iTMS and eyeTV video converted via QuickTime looks worse than the original content.

Thank your congressperson at re-election time.

Perhaps some combination of software transcoding can strip out the ICT tag and allow higher fidelity reproduction. It certainly seems that what software has done, software should be able to undo.
     
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Mar 31, 2007, 12:07 PM
 
The videos aren't completely stored on ATV. The hard drive is simply used to store photos, which you can't stream, and to work as virtual memory as the actual video is streamed to it via wireless. If you're going to rip your DVD collection to your mac's HD (as I have with Handbrake as well) I suggest getting an external HD of some sort just for the movies. This has done wonders for me since he 100GB HD on my mac is always almost full with just the files I need for everyday use. Anyway, with the drive, you can reference the videos in iTunes instead of importing them, and then your space issues are taken care of. Also, if you get an external drive that either has a network connection or a USB connection, there are wireless routers out there (such as the new airport) that can make them network drives so anyone on your network can refernece the videos in their iTunes library. Even though the videos aren't physically on their machines, they acn still browse them in coverflow, even when there is no current connection to the drive. Just getting a FW800 drive has made my storage needs a lot easier. Hope this helps!
     
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Mar 31, 2007, 12:09 PM
 
I find that the need to keep movies on the ATV and delete them from iTunes is just an attitude in need of adjustment. The only time I don't stream from iTunes and instead sync the content onto the ATV is when I'm going to be driving the hosting system pretty hard and want to ensure uninterrupted streaming. I suppose that if one were using an 802.11g wifi to stream to the ATV, perhaps there would be more syncing than streaming, but even with all the ATV hard drive replacement going on, the best one can do is about 160 GB (and that unit exceeds the power draw of the 40 GB base unit, better to stick with the Fujitsu 120 GB drive in the same family as the ATV 40 GB drive, as it has the same power specs), and when you put iPhoto and music out there as well, it will still get filled up pretty quickly.

Perhaps a later model of the AppleTV will support external hard drives via the USB port -- or better yet, a software upgrade of the existing model, if enough hue and cry from the customers prods Apple sufficiently.

And here's a tip I saw somewhere recently -- when not in use, you can force the ATV into sleep mode (reducing the heat it generates) by holding down the play/pause button for 5-6 sec.
     
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Apr 1, 2007, 05:33 PM
 
You need to encode your own content. And DVD encoded via something like Handbrake, at 3-5mbps in MPEG4 will look outstanding. MPEG4 is a more efficient codec than MPEG2 at the same bitrate.
Chris Brown
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Apr 2, 2007, 10:36 AM
 
I've had my AppleTV a few days now, hooked up to a non-HD CRT TV via component cables. As everyone has already said, the setup is amazingly simple. I have mine synced - I haven't even tried streaming yet - and it's a great way to access podcasts and my new TV downloads.

I tried playing a DVD rip of King Kong that I made for my iPod (640x480 res) - it looks excellent. In terms of resolution it looks as good as the DVD - some blockiness is visible, but only when you pause it and study the picture. In motion, it's really, really good. And this wasn't even encoded for the AppleTV specifically, remember.

I also tried a 720p episode of Lost, and the picture quality there was outstanding. Obviously, this is way beyond my TV's native resolution, so I presume the AppleTV is downsampling the picture. Understandably, it's pretty amazing looking !

The AppleTV also has a 567p and 567i mode at 50Hz (I think this is the standard PAL resolution). The 567p worked great - although I couldn't really notice the increased res over 480p, and my TV is a 100Hz tube, so I preferred the less 'flickery' 480p picture.

In short - video quality is nothing to be concerned about at all. As with anything, it's all down to the source material, not a limitation of the AppleTV.

It's also almost totally silent - a massive improvement over my big, ugly, noisy Linux-based Freeview PVR.
     
   
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