2010-04-08, 07:53 PM
One of the big drawbacks of HD pay per view movies with a company like Shaw is the fact that they use compression (and lots of it) to squeeze as much content into the pipeline as possible. I'm wondering whether anyone know's whether donwloading HD movies onto an Apple TV will give better picture quality?
All HDTV formats are compressed. That includes Apple. Since Shaw is using MPEG2 compression they are at a disadvantage because newer video formats are better at the same bitrate. So a 12Mbps MPEG2 movie will not look as good as a 12Mbps H.264 movie. However, you may find that the downloadable movies are at a lower bitrate or at 720P and then you may find the quality suffers.
Someone who has downloaded these products may be able to tell you what the typical resolution and bitrate is. I have not.
Edit: I just checked and iTunes movies are capped at 5Mbps and 720P. I would say they will not be as good as Shaw. But others may disagree.
2010-04-08, 08:55 PM
Considering the general lack of horsepower of the ATV's CPU/GPU combination, I suspect the bitrate of an HD download is significantly lower than one might find in a typical 720p or 1080p .mkv file. My ATV chokes on 720p or 1080p content that my PS3 handles with ease.
That said, the material I've downloaded on my ATV doesn't look appreciably worse than Shaw HD, but it's not remotely Blu-ray quality and it doesn't compare to a high profile .mkv/h.264 file.
2010-04-08, 11:12 PM
That's good to know. I almost made the mistake of assuming that because Apple TV downloads the movie in about an hour that it meant better quality. Then I remembered, NEVER assume anything these days. Companies will ALLWAYS try and give you the very least that they can get away with and assuming/hoping otherwise is usually a mistake.
2010-04-08, 11:22 PM
In fairness to Apple, I think they deliver the best quality they can. The limitation is the AppleTV hardware. Apple ensures the iTunes downloads are capable of playing on an ATV and encode them accordingly.
2010-04-08, 11:32 PM
Here's a comparason of AppleTV HD vs...
2010-04-09, 12:09 AM
There's a couple of issues with that comparison as it relates to the original post. First, the STB is an SA8300. Different box, but also completely different headend. There are significant differences in cable systems and there's no way to say that Shaw is better or worse than the one reviewed. Also, that particular movie was slightly zoomed by the cableco which would affect the comparison.
One man's experience of video quality from poorest to best on 1080p projector
Standard Definition on cable / sat
Standard Definition on Apple TV
HD on Apple TV
Rogers Cable / Bell TV Sat HD
2010-04-09, 12:12 PM
I would support hugh's ranking, perhaps with the exception that cable On Demand HD (versus regular HD channels) is worse than AppleTV.