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iTunes HD movies - compare to Blu-Ray


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#1 of 23 Stu Rosen

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Posted March 20 2009 - 12:03 PM

Apple is now, through iTunes, selling HD movies for the first time (previously only available as rentals), for $19.99 each. Putting aside DRM issues, and putting aside obvious differences (DD 5.1 on iTunes; better sound formats on BD, extras on BD, etc.), how do you think HD downloads LOOK compared to Blu-Ray discs? I suppose I could A/B it by buying a download for a movie I own on BD, but do you think it's a worthwhile alternative?
 

#2 of 23 Simon Howson

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Posted March 20 2009 - 02:19 PM

According to ilounge.com:
Quote:
In our brief initial testing, we found that Punisher: War Zone consists of one 3.09GB HD video file
That would make the average bitrate about 4.1 Mbps, far below the bitrates used for Blu-ray. This made me think that the video may be 720p rather than 1080p, which is still a good bump in resolution compared to their SD downloads, but isn't close to Blu-ray.

#3 of 23 Lew Crippen

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Posted March 20 2009 - 03:41 PM

HD on Apple is 720p.
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#4 of 23 OliverK

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Posted March 20 2009 - 09:53 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Simon Howson
According to ilounge.com:

That would make the average bitrate about 4.1 Mbps, far below the bitrates used for Blu-ray. This made me think that the video may be 720p rather than 1080p, which is still a good bump in resolution compared to their SD downloads, but isn't close to Blu-ray.

Wow ! An HD file that fits on a SL DVD that costs a whopping 6$ less than a proper Blu-Ray from Amazon - what a bargain Posted Image
Seriously: They will have to do better than that so they better up the quality or lower the price.

#5 of 23 Bryan Beckman

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Posted March 21 2009 - 03:51 PM

But the iTunes HD version has INSTANT delivery! That's the trump card that beats anything the Blu-ray version offers today or may offer in the future.

Posted Image
 

#6 of 23 OliverK

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Posted March 22 2009 - 09:45 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Beckman
But the iTunes HD version has INSTANT delivery! That's the trump card that beats anything the Blu-ray version offers today or may offer in the future.

Posted Image

You are right of course - a fool I was to put emphasis on insignificant little details like video and audio quality when I can have mediocre 720p HD lite NOW Posted Image

#7 of 23 Stephen_J_H

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Posted March 23 2009 - 01:19 AM

That being said, I can see this taking off in the rental area. $5 a movie, then you can decide whether or not you want to bump up to BD.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#8 of 23 Loregnum

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Posted March 23 2009 - 01:20 AM

A 3.1 GB video file and for 20 bucks? Ouch.

The amusing thing is we'll just see more of that since it is cheaper for them and also handles the bandwidth cap that most ISPs have in place.

yep, downloads are the wave of the near future and blu-ray is doomed because of that. Nothing about the model has any flaws at all....Posted Image

For me personally, I will NEVER download a movie unless bandwidth caps become a thing of the past, the price is a good deal cheaper than an optical retail disc and the quality is the same as blu-ray. If somehow that format becomes the standard (me thinks it won't at least not for 10+ years) and my criteria is not met then my movie buying days are over.

Edit- as stated by Stephen, I think downloads can be good as a rental format but that is about it.

#9 of 23 Scott-S

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Posted March 23 2009 - 01:35 AM

You must have a great internet connection if you can download a 3G file "Instantly".

Considering the file is smaller than most dvd movies. The quality would have to be less than that of a standard dvd.

It is pretty simple. Unless you are willing to download a file that is the same size as what is on a blu-ray disc, you wont get that quality. I would guess that the movie part of a blu-ray is probably over 15GB.

You cant compress more and get the same quality.
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#10 of 23 ATimson

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Posted March 23 2009 - 01:50 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott-S
Considering the file is smaller than most dvd movies. The quality would have to be less than that of a standard dvd.
Not true; DVDs are encoded with a very inefficient codec. You can use a better codec and end up with a better-looking file that's smaller.
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#11 of 23 Douglas Monce

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Posted March 23 2009 - 02:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott-S
You must have a great internet connection if you can download a 3G file "Instantly".


Most HD downloads that I have watched started playing with in 1 or 2 min of the download starting. You don't had to wait for the whole thing to download before you watch it.

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#12 of 23 Sam Posten

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Posted March 23 2009 - 03:15 AM

G@#%@% server just ate a half page reply I put up...

Here's where I stand:

There is content I demand be in top audio/video quality. New release films and blockbuster catalog titles. BluRay only here for me.

Second tier movies and Broadcast TV shows that I want to own, DVD is fine here.

But there is a whole endless ocean of content I DON'T have to have in the highest quality. Netflix instant has me converted on that. Documentaries and older films especially, even newer ones if they are at the right price and I am not already a fan of the work, I'm perfectly willing to trade absolute quality for convenience and cost.

Blind fanaticism to top tier AV for all content is only going to result in disappointment. You can call this a race to the bottom but the masses spoke on MP3 too, there is a point when stuff is 'good enough'. If you don't believe me, rent a film on iTunes or get a month of Netflix and see for yourself. There will always be a market for the highest quality versions of SOME content but trying to fit ALL content in that category is a fools errand. Just MHO.

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#13 of 23 Brent M

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Posted March 23 2009 - 03:23 AM

Very true, Sam.
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#14 of 23 Bryan Beckman

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Posted March 23 2009 - 03:26 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen_J_H
That being said, I can see this taking off in the rental area. $5 a movie, then you can decide whether or not you want to bump up to BD.

I do this to some extent. Since I have very little free time at the moment and a 40-minute commute on an express bus, I'm often forced to do my movie watching on my laptop - which doesn't have a Blu-ray drive (yet!). I keep my eye on the 99-cent rental specials on Amazon and iTunes, and only buy downloaded movies at that price. For a buck, I'm willing to accept the technical trade-offs. The movies I really enjoy make it onto my Blu-ray wish list.

I think the industry is best served marketing Blu-ray and digital downloads as complementary technologies, not substitutes. I also think the people who will buy into iTunes HD are going to be more of the diehard Apple evangelist-types who will buy anything the company puts out, or those people still hoping to justify their purchase of the Apple TV. Netflix will soon own that particular market segment, IMO.
 

#15 of 23 Bryan Beckman

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Posted March 23 2009 - 03:49 AM

Heh. Apple's use of the term "HD" is marvelous in its cunning. From its new "HD Movies" splash page on iTunes:

Quote:
Own stunning HD-quality movies -- it's as easy as downloading to your Mac or PC. Get the movies below and you'll be able to watch them in HD on your computer or on your TV using Apple TV, so you won't miss any of the eye-popping details.

I find it fascinating that "HD" is the marketing buzzword of choice these days when it comes to electronics. Because there's no canonical definition of what "HD" is, it can mean just about anything. Oh sure, the typical meaning is "high definition," but that term is so vague that it can mean just about anything that's better than "normal," which is a pretty vague term itself.

In fact, "HD" doesn't even have to stand for "high definition" if the marketers/lawyers don't want it to. Take HD Radio, for instance. I've read no fewer than three different explanations for what the "HD" stands for, and while one of those is likely what the public is thinking ("high definition"), the other two ("hybrid digital" and "high density") are probably closer to the original intent - although Wikipedia confirms it actually means nothing at all.
 

#16 of 23 Mike Williams

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Posted March 23 2009 - 04:06 AM

Ahhhh, Wikepedia. "Anyone can go on there and put whatever they want, so you know you're getting the very best information." -- Michael Scott, The Office

#17 of 23 Stephen_J_H

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Posted March 23 2009 - 10:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Beckman
I think the industry is best served marketing Blu-ray and digital downloads as complementary technologies, not substitutes. I also think the people who will buy into iTunes HD are going to be more of the diehard Apple evangelist-types who will buy anything the company puts out, or those people still hoping to justify their purchase of the Apple TV. Netflix will soon own that particular market segment, IMO.
I agree to some extent, but Netflix won't really own the download market segment until it goes international. You can download from an iTunes store pretty much anywhere in the world. Contrast that with the new BD players that are Netflix-enabled. Fat lot of good it does me in Canada, or anyone outside of the US. Fortunately, it appears that the pricing in Canada is reflecting that.
"My opinion is that (a) anyone who actually works in a video store and does not understand letterboxing has given up on life, and (b) any customer who prefers to have the sides of a movie hacked off should not be licensed to operate a video player."-- Roger Ebert

#18 of 23 Lew Crippen

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Posted March 24 2009 - 06:22 AM

Agreeing with Stephen as to Netflix outside the US. I can download HD and SD content (I mostly rent rather than buy) from iTunes, but nada from Netflix.
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#19 of 23 AaronMK

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Posted March 25 2009 - 03:16 AM

Quote:
I find it fascinating that "HD" is the marketing buzzword of choice these days when it comes to electronics. Because there's no canonical definition of what "HD" is, it can mean just about anything. Oh sure, the typical meaning is "high definition," but that term is so vague that it can mean just about anything that's better than "normal," which is a pretty vague term itself.

Even if you grant that HD stands for "High Definition" that could mean a 720p video stream with an average bitrate of 1 Kbs.

"HD" should really mean a 720p or 1080p video and audio stream that is indistinguishable from the original source (to the trained eye) to the extent possible given the video resolution. That means it is encoded with a high enough bitrate and lack of destructive post-precessing like DNR or EE. (Though that should not exclude reconstructive post processing, such as that of The Godfather.) "Full HD" should mean the same, except that 1080p is required.

So before comparing "iTunes HD" to blu-ray, is "iTunes HD" actually HD? I know there are a number of 1080p blu-rays that are not HD.

#20 of 23 Nelson Au

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Posted March 25 2009 - 04:22 AM

I'm an Apple user and fan. But I, and other Apple users I know don't buy into everything Apple has to offer. I don't download my music from iTunes. Though I own 4 iPods. I did buy a TV show early on when I missed an episode. And I don't have an Apple TV.

But I do see this as an alternative as mentioned above or compliment to Blu-Ray. But for the most part, the majority of the users of iTunes are younger people who buy their music that way. I think it's such an unfortunate way to create a music library because of the lower resolution. But then this generation of buyers either don't care or don't know or heard the difference. And they probably don't have a higher end audio system.

So when it comes to Apple HD movie downloads, I think that the majority of these buyers don't care either that it's 720p. They probably don't know the difference. It really is the convenience factor here. And if it looks good, they're happy. And they probably own a 32" 720P LCD TV. Apple knows it's market and they are zooming right at them.


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