Just bought my first iTunes TV show...

Discussion in 'TV Shows' started by MickeS, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I thought I'd try out the new iTunes TV thingie, so I bought the pilot episode of "Night Stalker" (they don't have much yet), for $1.99.

    First, I think that's too high of a price if I wanted to collect them, but I guess it's OK if I just want to watch something I forgot to TiVo (and can't find a torrent for it [​IMG]).

    The quality is decent, about VHS, I'd say.

    But the really negative part is that on my PC, a 1 GHz Celeron with 320 MB memory, the video was so choppy in iTunes that it became unbearable. If I did nothing else, no mouse movement, nothing, it was still choppy. And forget about doing something else, like moving the window, then it just froze for several seconds.

    Watching in QuickTime helped a little, but that starts iTunes, so I have to close that (which took forever) and since I have the free QT I can't watch fullscreen.

    I should add that I can use PowerDVD, Media Player Classic and WMP10 to watch DVDs and Xvid and DivX on my PC without any problems at all. I have always disliked iTunes for being such a resource hog and for having a lot of minor interface bugs, but I have always put up with it, because I like iTMS and have an iPod.

    But I won't be buying anymore TV shows until I buy a new computer (and since my PC can do everything else I want, that might be a while). I'm probably in the minority with such a slow PC, but I would be interested to hear what others experienced.
     
  2. Greg_S_H

    Greg_S_H Executive Producer

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    I'm going to be getting an HDTV card soon, so I don't really need this. Few of my shows are on ABC anyway. If it's really VHS quality, that's not good.
     
  3. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    Obviously, this is not meant to compete with HDTV. It's a 209MB file for a 43 minute show, its primarily for use with the video iPod that was introduced today, and for "casual" viewing.

    It's a little bit better than VHS probably. I think the resolution is 320*240. It probably looks perfectly serviceable on a standard def TV (looks decent on the PC, as long as it's not full screen). But it was hard to tell, since it was so choppy. [​IMG]
     
  4. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Apple tells you on the download page that video requirements are a 1.5 GHz Pentium class processor or better and 32MB of video RAM. Sucks for me, too. I have a 1 GHz Pentium 3.
     
  5. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    I never saw those requirements, because I never looked for them. I assumed that since DVDs, XviD and DivX all play fine on my PC, these files would too... especially since they are of lower quality than those formats! Oh well.
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Feels like the UMD-ing of TV shows now.
     
  7. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I think this is a pretty cool thing, and not just because I'm a Mac user.

    It's the start of this nebulus thing we've heard over the years that you'll eventually be able to download content. Of course it's pretty low rez now and limited content. But if the other studios see that iTunes video and Disney is doing really well, then like the reconrd companies, the other studios could all jump into this. And it will be all legitimate and everyone is happy. Plus there's other applications, like educational stuff.

    I don't see myself abandoning the HD world. The youth of today don't seem to care about hi resolution music, so I think they'll be okay watchng a lower rez video on a 2.5 inch screen. Time will tell how pricing works for whole seasons of TV shows, but that's got to be on a higher end basis, like DVD still.

    Nelson
     
  8. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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  9. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Yes you can. that was their plan. But from what I am reading, the screen resolution is low, in the 300's. It will look fine on an SD TV set, but on an HD set, forget it![​IMG]
     
  10. Ken Chan

    Ken Chan Producer

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    Yes, but VHS does record both fields, so it ballparks at 320x480. There are of course other reasons why VHS looks bad.
     
  11. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    Well, yeah. The HD market is still pretty small. 320x240 is the resolution of SD TVs, so there's little reason to go higher for now. I'm sure we'll be seeing iPods with HDMI output in a few years.
     
  12. Jason Harbaugh

    Jason Harbaugh Cinematographer

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    Looks like I'll stick with torrents if I miss an episode. They should at least offer 640x480 or 720x480.
     
  13. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    I think its a pretty exciting prospect. Not only does it provide an easy and relatively cheap means for someone to catch up on a show that's receiving good buzz but I think it could really serve as another metric aside from the Nielsens to gauge viewer interest.

    I also thinks its a very positive step to battle torrents (vice RIAA style lawsuits). Although torrents are easy to use for those "in the know," the average viewer isn't likely to know where to get torrent files plus configuring torrent clients to work behind routers can be a bear for casual users.

    The resolution (or lack thereof)is defintely an issue though. It would be great if they were DVD resolution.

    And I don't think it really hampers DVD sales either. A full 22 episode season via iTunes would be $44 which is about how much most full season DVD sets are retailing these days so its a wash no matter which way you go. Yeah you miss out on the extras but with the tradeoff of not having to wait a year or more for the DVD release.
     
  14. Graham Perks

    Graham Perks Second Unit

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    Pretty amazing that an iPod will decode the video fine while a 1GHz PC won't!

    The videos are encoded using the H.264 format which is what's going to be used on HD DVDs. It really compacts the file size down while leaving the image nice and sharp. It's about four times as efficient as the encoding used for DVDs - meaning the file sizes are four times smaller for the same quality.

    The downside is it needs some horsepower to process. Remember in the mid-90s when JPEGs would take seconds to display? :)

    I too hope they go with a higher resolution in the future (I guess we're at the iPod's limits). I downloaded a few videos and they're actually pretty sharp given the resolution.
     
  15. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Seems like the xVid torrent files that pop up online are better quality than the official releases. That's sort of hard to justify...
     
  16. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    The same can be said about music and any other media.

    Putting media on a portable device is nothing new and people have been doing it for years on PDAs and more recently with the PSP. It was finding the media that was difficult. You either had to take the time to rip your existing media or some would go and download the media from not-so-legitimate sites.

    What's exciting with the video iPod is the availablity of a cheap, easy, and legitimate method for obtaining "real" content. It doesn't matter for tech-savy people but for the millions of users used to purchasing music through iTunes downloading an episode of a TV show will now be a no-brainer.

    But, yeah, if Apple and the networks really wanted to offer an attractive alternative to torrenting of TV shows then they should offer better resolutions. HD resolution is an obvious pipe dream (studios would likely freak) but I don't think DVD resolution should be out of the question.
     
  17. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    I dunno. I'm willing to buy songs on iTunes because the DRM isn't excessively overbearing and the quality to my ears is atleast as good as most mp3s I have.

    My point was more about Apple, in this case, not utilizing the most effective technology. The codec is far too processor-intensive for the 320x240 audience. And For only about a hundred more megabytes, xVid releases are often twice the resolution.
    But if you really are using them just for the iPod, I suppose it works fine.
     
  18. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    When I first saw that the Video iPod was released I almost ordered one on the spot since I tend to be a "bleeding edge" adopter. I purchased a G3 iPod (40Gigs) the day it came out and then a 60Gig Photo iPod when it was introduced a couple of months later. While I still use both iPods (me and my significant other) for tunes I have to admit that novelty of the Photo portion of the Photo iPod wore off quickly for me and I haven't used that feature in a very long time. Besides, with so many other ways to display digital photos, the Photo iPod isn't really the best option for my needs.

    Based on that experience, and the fact that I already have a PSP that has a display videos function that I don't really utilize much if at all, I decided to pass on the Video iPod for now. Is it a cool product? Absolutely. Is it practical for my needs? Probably not at all. However, at a price point of under $400 for a 60Gig unit, if I was just entering the iPod world that's the one I would probably get because it has a lot of bells and whistles and still holds about 15000 tunes. The only drawback would be if size were the overriding factor. Then the Nano would be the obvious choice.

    I can understand the attraction of having "missed" episodes of shows at one's disposal (to bring this discussion back to a topic appropriate for the "TV Software" section of the forum) and I think that the Video iPod will be an elegant solution for those who want the easiest approach, although not necessarily the highest Rez one. And, of course, there is the whole Music Video category which provides a nice enhancement to the original concept of the iPod. But for those of us who have access to other time shifting techniques such as DVRs, torrents, HDPCs, etc. the Video iPod is an interesting, but not too practical, approach for our needs.

    Since I am a Dish Network subscriber I've been looking at their new Pocket Dish as an on-the-go Video solution but even as cool and capable that this unit is supposed to be (I saw it in action at CEDIA) I'm not sure that I would use it that much. But I'll probably get one since, as I told you, I'm a "bleeding edge" type of guy.

    [​IMG]

    But that's another subject for another time.
     
  19. nickGreenwood

    nickGreenwood Second Unit

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    I think it's best said if we put this venture by Apple this way: "It's a start."
    Not many other places are offering legal downloads of full tv shows or even full seasons. Actually none that I know of at the moment. (I know that movielink does movie rentals that you download.) Unless you go out and buy the DVD. But for a quick fix or to catch up (I bought last weeks episode of Lost to play catch up for this week) it's not bad. While the quality isn't too great, it's not too bad, I've seriously seen worse torrents of recent tv shows. The biggest thing to remember is that the reason for the lower quality is probably because of file size, as it is even on a T1 (1.5 meg) it took me 30-40 minutes to download the file. (I actually have a faster service at home, but I work for my ISP so not everyone has a 6-8 meg circuit. While Apple employs the help of the company Akamai and they have quite possibly the best servers around for downloading, they will still get backed up. And most people aren't willing to wait for a 400 - 600 Meg file. 200 is hard enough.
    Give Apple a while, as it is they just updated their HD movie trailers section, they're up to like 20 files now, so as soon as online HD takes off and people realize how nice it all looks on a computer then we'll probably start seeing the demand for Apple to update the video files on iTunes.

    I still bought the video for Fatboy Slim - Weapon of Choice, Collective Soul - World I Know and Coldplay - Clocks. I mean you can't go wrong with Weapon of Choice it has Christopher Walken!
     
  20. ThomasC

    ThomasC Lead Actor

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    I'm guessing it's an issue of DRM and that DRM works better with MPEG than AVI. MPEG video files need a much bigger bitrate than DivX files to have comparable quality, AFAIK.
     

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