How does Apple TV stack up against other HD content sources?

“The most obvious new feature of Apple TV is its ability to rent iTunes movies, including a new selection of HD flicks that turned up on the iTunes Store in the last 48 hours. Here’s a look at how Apple’s rental solution prices out against rival services in terms of prolonged cost, as well as a comparison of picture quality of Apple’s HD downloads when viewed side-by-side against other high-def content sources such as HD Cable and Blu-ray,” Prince McLean reports for AppleInsider.

“The encoding quality performed by the studios that submit their content to download services like iTunes can vary greatly. Individual DVDs and Blu-Ray discs can also vary in quality between movies depending how much effort was put into the mastering process. HD cable providers also get varying levels of quality in the content they deliver, but their distribution systems rely so heavily on compression to serve up quantity rather than quality that heavy artifacting and muddy sound are pretty much a given,” McLean reports.

“It seems pretty clear that Apple TV’s HD quality is decent enough to compete against the technically superior HD disc formats and also improves over upconverted DVD. It also offers convenience and price advantages for casual renters that make it a compelling alternative to disc players. Add in the fact that Apple TV does a whole lot more than just rent movies, and it’s clear why Apple invested so much into revising the unit,” McLean reports.

Much more in the full article, including screenshot comparisons and charts, here.


  1. @Mac+

    > Apple TV is the future. Microsoft Media Center, the past. What is the present?


    Silliness aside, Apple TV is worth more to me, since I can now access all the top notch universities and attend lectures from some of the greatest academic minds in the US from the comfort of my couch and the 47″ LCD in my living room, via the free iTunes U. That feature alone is priceless, and to me that’s a luxury I appreciate a lot and none at the present can offer anything similar right now.

  2. @krquet
    I couldn’t agree with you more. iTunes U has to be the most undervalued gem in the Apple universe. You may not get a degree from these courses, but you get what is more important: knowledge. I just updated my TV last night. I’m glad you reminded me to check out the “U” on the big screen.

  3. Blue Ray discs have so much other information on it, like all of the bonus stuff. I just upgraded my Apple TV, and was singularly unimpressed with the offerings.

    And I still want timeshifting. I want to dump my TiVo, and have my Apple TV run everything.

  4. “Nobody watches or listens to the “bonus” material.”

    @ nekogami13,

    Are you kidding me? If all you watch is XXX with Vin Diesel, Scary Movieor or the likes, maybe.

    When it comes to movies like The Godfathers, Mulholland Dr., the Shawshank Redemption, Jerry Maguire, The Usual Suspects, Star Wars, the Matrix etc. you got to have the features. You wanna know a lot about good movies. This is actually where it becomes cool. I would miss those if I had Apple TV.

  5. how does it stack up?

    Not very well I’m afraid.. It just takes way too long to download HD content, AND it’s not as good as Blu-Ray…

    I’m sticking with NetFilx.

    I DO like the stream thru iTunes to AppleTV though

  6. Thanks for the spam Mark.

    I don’t think that many people here are interested, considering that security is one of the many reasons why we choose Mac.

    Try a Windows security site; those Windows guys eat that shit up.

  7. I am incredibly uninterested in Blu-Ray movies. The thought of buying new plastic disks to replace old plastic disks is irritating at best. No more packaging, no more disk players, no more Wal-Mart/Best Buy middle men, no more bundling good films with bad – just beam it to me, straight from the factory. Getting rid of disks is like getting rid of telephone land lines – more upside than downside.

  8. There may be 100 million people using iTunes and iPods but not in the US. As far as I know the amazon service is US only so why not give Apple’s US iTunes figures. I believe Apple TV is a better option but those figures do tend to build Apple up.

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