How Apple’s iTunes Store could deliver High Definition for Apple TV

Apple Store“When Apple’s iTunes Music Store introduced video at 320×240 resolution back in October 2005, it raised a number of questions: how would it scale up? How could they manage movies at that paltry resolution? The iPod’s video hardware is so limited, how could it even scale up to 640×480? All of the anxiety about complex solutions were laid to rest after Apple introduced the movies and a firmware upgrade that got a lot more performance out of existing hardware. I argue that similar things will happen in the transition to High-Def video for the Apple TV,” Adam T. Lindsay blogs.

Lindsay writes, “Apple’s solution was simple: all videos would be delivered at a high-quality 640×480 maximum resolution, encoded with the H.264 video codec. The firmware on the fifth generation iPod was updated, and impressively so (from 900 macroblocks in MPEG-4 to 1200 with H.264 encoding), so no dual delivery formats were needed. Simplicity is maintained.”

“With the introduction of the Apple TV, and the accompanying hand-wringing about the relatively poor quality of 640×360 pixel movies shown on HDTVs, attention is turning to how Apple plans to deliver High Definition content to the Apple TV. I don’t think the current iPods can be made to understand a high definition stream. While some may imagine a multiple format delivery scenario as predicted before the introduction of movies, I think Apple has another potential trick up its sleeve,” Lindsay writes.

Lindsay writes, “The technology is an extension to H.264, Scalable Video Coding (SVC), and it was scheduled to reach the Final Draft Amendment stage last week…”

Full article here.


  1. When Apple TV projects a 3000 lumen 1080p 100″ image onto my wall, washes my car, and keeps my two year old from whining. Thats when I buy Apple TV ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  2. I have one question: does the author of this blog even know what he’s talking about? If I read one more, “Apple must do this” or “Apple must do that” article, I’ll hurl chunks.

    Apple will do what it damn well pleases. It has stockholders, not bloggers to worry about. I could write a blog, and perhaps even get it picked up on MDN. But does that make me an expert? What does some self-annointed expert know that Apple’s own experts don’t? Did Apple make its decision on resolution delivery on technical terms, such as determining how many TVs out there in couchpotato land are still conventional TVs, versus HD flat screens? Could that have been the driving factor? Or, what is the cost to store a large volume of HD content, and transmit each order in HD, versus a lower resolution?

    Did the author of the blog consider these questions? I doubt it.

    No, instead we’re treated to a spoiled, pedantic brat wishing for the moon and the stars. That’s all well and good. But when the pedantic little brat’s blog gets picked up and published here and elsewhere, it can be damaging to Apple’s image, notwithstanding the fact that Apple had to make a BUSINESS decision, which this pimply little nerd may never have to do.

    So, let’s see: I want a 40-core, 50 Googlehertz Mac that’s smaller than an iPod Shuffle, and I want it for $50. If I can dream it, why can’t I have it?!??? Gee, Apple, you’re falling down on the job!

    MDN, please. Spare us from having to read these fantasyland blogs. I’m sure that Apple has thought through these arguments long and hard. I’m willing to wait until it’s practical and profitable for Apple to deliver what we dream. I’m sure they’re plenty motivated – competition will do that at no extra charge.

    And as for you, my little blogger: get a life.

  3. Good pts abound about buying apple tv now and enjoying the upgrades later when the capabilities improve. But I really don’t anticipate using it that much now as TiVo does a fine job finding what I want to watch so will hold onto my money until I’m sure I’ll enjoy it. If I had unlimited funds, I’m sure it would be in my living room already.

  4. 1080p quality isn’t asking too much when you just laid out $5K for that new 60″ Sony HDTV.

    Who wants to watch compression artifacts in full HD?

    Get with the technology Apple/Steve. In the meantime, I’ll just have to live with my low-cost PS3 Blu-Ray player!

  5. I know for a FACT that AppleTV does HDTV without any problem because I am watching it now. I am watching a full (not upscaled) 720p native resolution video from a HDTV podcast. The appletv looks gorgeous when running this resolution and it is clear the device is capable of stunning video quality. The problem about picture everyone is complaining about is out of ignorance, the device CAN do HDTV resolutions out of the box, but the itunes store just doesn’t support that yet. In reviewing the device, reviewers should at least state the device is capable but the source content isn’t there yet. Apple needs to get with the program that much is clear- but I am certain they will, for why would they spend extra money build a device that could do 720p native resolution, only to not ever plan to supply that kind of signal.

  6. AppleTV does 720p quite well, with it’s slightly limited H.264 codec.

    Sony are soon going to be offering movies for PS3 and PSP in 720p H.264 codec from the PlayStation Online Store.

    Microsoft are already offering movies for Xbox 360 (and soon Live on Windows and in IPTV initiative) in 720p VC-1 codec in the Live Marketplace.

    It doesn’t take a great leap of imagination to expect iTunes Store to soon be offering movies in 720p H.264 in the near future.

    1080p may be the sweetspot for HD optical media, but it looks like 720p is the winner for HD downloads.

    MDN Magic Word: lost, which should be offered in 720p on iTunes.

  7. HEY MDN – are all these sh*tty ContentLink pop-up ads really necessary? I can’t believe they pull in any money or that anyone clicks on them, and they make MDN one of the junkiest sites I use. Why not just get RID OF THEM and make this site elegant again???

  8. Hi, Guys, n girls, miss u all. Wo mac are pop now

    Linux is cool to, hahha,

    Apple could make bussmac, ie macmini bus,
    Firwall built in? Cool idea huh

    Remove , ilife etc

    Luv ya anthony
    Ms sux

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