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Is this a good analysis of the AppleTV HD quality?

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by DaveF, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    An blog / editorial at Cnet has a negative take on the HD quality from the AppleTV (and cable providers, too). I don't have much experience with HD media, but I try to be up to date with the technology. I'm curious if this discussion is correct or seriously lacking?

    Don’t believe the low bit-rate ‘HD’ lie
     
  2. Zack Gibbs

    Zack Gibbs Well-Known Member

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    IMO yes. Here's a follow up article that's even better;

    » Here’s what fake HD video looks like | George Ou | ZDNet.com

    It might have the resolution, but it sure as hell doesn't have the "definition." Someone was kind enough to post some "HD" screencaps from Star Trek II in the "Remastered trek films anytime soon?" thread. Perfect example of shit HD. I've seen more detail from a lightbrite.

    I have seen good HD from TV, but it's few and far between. With all the HD media talk going on recently we hear a lot about downloads or VOD killing physical media. I know good and well that will happen and I'll even embrace it when it does...in 20 years. The funny comments are the ones that say "...in some cases, its already here!" LOL bullshit.
     
  3. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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  4. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    Ou is a bit of a dork on a lot of things, but I happen to think he's mostly right here. The thing is, it doesn't really matter for most people, and he rightly uses MP3 as evidence for that.
     
  5. Eric F

    Eric F Well-Known Member

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    Oh the apple movie trailers are MPEG-4 H.264 and are quite high-bitrate video and audio, I wouldn't even begin comparing them to what AppleTV-HD has to offer.
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Thanks for the info. I don't find the MP3 comparison wholly apt. MP3 was never billed as a quality improvement, but a convenience. Loss of fidelity was a fair trade for simplicity. But HD is supposed to be better than DVD; and but this is not obviously the case from Ou's blog.

    Have you seen the ATV HD video? What's your impression?
     
  7. Eric F

    Eric F Well-Known Member

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    AppleTV-HD look more equivalent to Microsoft's HD offering's on their XBOX live service- not bad, but not great either. It's certainly nowhere near as good as what's being offered on that page, especially the 1080p trailers, which are pretty much equivalent to what you get on HD/BLU-Ray.
     
  8. ErichH

    ErichH Well-Known Member

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    Good point - If top quality were a concern, the iPod would not be what it is today.
     
  9. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  10. bpickell

    bpickell Well-Known Member

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    I tried to make this very same argument on the AVS forum when MPEG4 was first being discussed. They were talking about higher compression and smaller file sizes. I kept telling them they will lose quality due to the very definition of compression. When you compress a file or image you are removing information to make the file smaller. No one believed me and I was pretty much shunned.
     
  11. GlennH

    GlennH Well-Known Member

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    There's nothing wrong with MPEG4 as long as it's at a high enough bitrate, such as on HD DVD or Blu-ray.

    Dan Ramer also discusses this issue here:

    DVDFILE.com
     
  12. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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    Just sampled a few trailers from Apple-- most are over 5 Mb/s, even if just slightly over the limit. Quicktime will give the bitrate, it's command-I. Looks like the AppleTV is incapable of H.264's more aggressive but computationally more difficult CABAC variant.

    Still, the whole point of lossy compression is that the bits discarded are unlikely to be missed by the viewer--a viewer, not some maven with a calculator. So, until the movie rental service starts up, and artifacts are shown in nice screen caps, i'll withhold judgement.

    I do think that Apple is competing with cable "on demand" service, not with Bluray/HDDVD.
     
  13. brap

    brap Well-Known Member

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    That's a shame. I agree with you. The codec technology MPEG2 and MPEG4 asp/avc has only increased enough to have a) same quality at lower bitrates or b) Higher quality at the same bitrate. Trying high quality at lower bitrate will result artifacts. Especially since 720p has 3X the pixels as 480P. It is leaps and bounds over the old cinepak days though.

    For b) 720p at avc fits quite nicely on a DVD.
     
  14. Dave Mack

    Dave Mack Well-Known Member

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  15. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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    Maybe it would be a good idea to separate "frame resolution" from "effective resolution".

    The frame resolution is defined by the display technology-- i.e 720*1280 pixels for 720 p.

    The effective resolution is determined by the level of detail that's present in the image. Dirty camera lens? Improper Focus? Lowpass filtering? Visible macroblocking? All those reduce the level of effective detail below that of HD.

    I remember of phenomenon during the early days of HD. I called it HD Porn. It was what was looped on HD stations-- usually nature programs, with slow pans to minimize any macroblocking problems. People watched them not because of any serious content but because they were pretty.

    There's a podcast called Beautiful Places in HD. Pretty pictures, not much panning. Sometimes it looks great, other times, it looks muddied- unrealistic. It's 720p at about 4--5 MPixels. I don't know whether it's because he's using a deficient camera, a non-pro compression algorithm, or whether it's the codec but it's not really HD (and doesn't look as awe inspiring as those early PBS feeds).

    Honestly I don't know what's worse-- low pass filtering or artifacts. The former gives a pasty feel, the latter is just annoying.
     
  16. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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  17. Eric F

    Eric F Well-Known Member

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    As I said in the Wrath of Khan thread I don't think this is a good comparrison of PQ. They are probably going by a cable provider who compresses their HD OnDemand programming, which Comcast (for the most part) does not. Comcast's HD OnDemand progamming in my area often looks better than normal HD programming because they pump up the bandwidth.
     
  18. JeremyErwin

    JeremyErwin Well-Known Member

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    Note to self: don't subscribe to BrightHouse Networks.
     

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