Apple TV (etc) quality debate for films

GrazzaB

Well-known Member
Hi everyone

I'm sure I'm not alone on these forums when I get rather frustrated by the opinions some people have in relation to streaming, ie that 4k quality of streaming is equivalent to betamax and far worse than Blu-ray, and is apparently just a rental even when apple TV stuff is being released in 4k with atmos, hdr and dolby vision and generally looks superb, as well as regular free upgrades to 4k. I'm not sure if some people just refuse to accept that anything other than physical media is good, but I really find it baffling when it's put down so regularly. I sometimes feel its like when people claim that £100 HDMI leads make a difference or when you have to use bespoke vibration dampeners or your hifi system is rubbish.

Now for clarity and before the pitchforks come out, I'm not saying that 4K discs aren't the best format - absolutely they are in terms of picture and sound currently - but I find the dismissal of good streaming quality to be baffling at times. I've got a really good viewing setup and I find apple TV stuff in 4k to be consistently great in terms of picture and sound when it's atmos. Yes atmos is a bit better rounded and thunderous in lossless but do other people on the forums honestly think it's night and day? It's a genuine question, I'm not trying to be difficult as I would love to know what people think.

Now I have to add to this that I've got dozens and dozens of 4k discs, and still order them on a regular basis - with John Wick 3, Apocalypse Now and Maleficent pre-ordered - and I prefer 4k discs to digital on my PJ as I get great tone mapping and WCG from my Panasonic 820 player. But I think it does people sitting on the fence and thinking about moving to digital a genuine disservice to make them think that the gulf between streaming and disc is so large.

The 'it' s just a rental' argument is also strange to me, as outside of a few extremely isolated cases this is not an issue with apple (or Google) as opposed to smaller services, which of course UV has shown can be vulnerable. But do people think apple will go under suddenly and they will lose their films, or in fact that they will still be watching on their Blu-ray players in 10-15 years?

Also I need to say that I've watched streaming on blinkbox, Google play, chili etc and it's been extremely sub-BR quality on occasion - so on this thread I'm talking about apple TV quality really. Even Netflix and amazon 4k stuff shows artifacts to me when apple doesn't. I'm also no fan of streaming when it's 13.99 for a film with no extras - I'd always get the disc first. But I think people seem to ignore the free upgrades to 4k you get with apple which you never get with physical media, and the absolutely huge price differences. For clarity I'm not watching this stuff on a £200 TV with a sound bar - a lot of what I view is on my projector (4k upscale, with WCG), 7.1.2 atmos with monitor audio bronze / silver and a 55" QLED.

I'm also finding reviews of streaming to be hard to come by - Vincent Teoh did a great comparison some time ago and I always like the reviews from Spare Change on YouTube, he's always honest and gives reviews on some streaming releases - but otherwise there doesn't really seem to be anything out there as far as I can see.

I'd love a reasoned, adult debate on this actually - and this forum is better than many in that regard. If everyone disagrees with me then I'm obviously wrong, which is fine! So what are people's honest opinions?

Cheers!
 
Last edited:

Chinstroke

Active Member
I’m with you,I also use a projector and I feel that it’s like this

UHD Blu-Ray>>>>>4K ATV>>>>>Blu-Ray>>>>>4K streams on Netflix/Amazon etc>>>>>HD streams.

I have done side by side comparisons of the same films on UHD Blu and ATV and I have been hard pressed to notice the difference. I always see banding and artefacts in other streaming services but not in the ATV ones. I haven’t included Sky or freeview in my comparison cos I’ve not seen them on the projector but my memory of them is they are poor even compared to streaming.
 

Mark Costello

Distinguished Member
After decades of being a staunch 'physical media only' collector/viewer, I've softened somewhat in recent years and have been growing a healthy digital library to sit alongside my physical collection. Mostly for two reasons:

1) Quality - as you mentioned, the quality of 4K streams via Apple TV is fantastic. I can happily stream a 1080p iTunes purchase on my 92" projection screen and be more than satisfied with the picture quality. Audio-wise, I'm rocking a full Atmos system and can notice the difference between full fat lossless and lossy audio soundtracks, but this is where the second reason comes into play...….

2) Price - with iTunes mega-aggressive pricing strategy, plus the aftermarket on all manner of digital codes flying around for those of us with access to US iTunes/MA/Vudu accounts, the price of this quality more than makes up for any perceived dip in quality. Am I happy for a 1080p stream with lossy audio? For 1/5th of the price of the disc I am for certain titles (and especially where 4K versions of Paramount mega hits can be picked up for $3!!!!!).

And this is where the two libraries comes in - the choice of streaming now allows me to use the digital purchases for multiple reasons:

a) Where we simply don't have physical HD media - classics such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Black Hole and the original War of the Worlds are all available in far better quality than the only physical media options we have (although recently we've got physical discs for two of those, but stupid US exclusives.....which leads into my next point); and
b) We have films that we want but physical media are prohibitively priced - as mentioned above, or any number of low budget flicks that aren't granted a HD release over in the UK, we either make do with the UK SD version, a very pricey import of the US blu…...or in most cases, the digital version is available at a fraction of the import price.

I still love physical media, especially when it comes to the extras which are often missing from digital versions, but running a physical and digital library alongside each other seems the absolute best of both worlds.

This also now lets me work a sort of 'try before I expensively buy' scheme - recently I've picked up digital purchases of the new Pet Sematary, Bumblebee, Overlord, Shazam! and Alita Battle Angel, films I would have previously insisted buying Day 1 on 4K disc and viewing in the highest quality due to the eye and ear candy on them all.....but given the sniffy reviews, I've been able to take a punt on them all at over half the price of the 4K disc by grabbing digital codes (and in some cases also at a price that's the same as or cheaper than actually renting it!). Interestingly of them, I've only picked up Bumblebee on 4K disc as it was the only one I've thought worthy of a double dip to get that extra little bit of A/V quality. That's not to say I won't on the others - I thought Overlord and Alita were ok but will wait till I can get the discs significantly cheaper than they are now before I do......

All of this is basically my way of saying that I've come right round to the idea of digital streaming/downloads now being of sufficient quality for me......but only due to the price points. Should physical media start coming down in price (which I can't see thanks to the creeping prices of 4K special editions), or heaven forbid digital prices start increasing (who knows.....?), it may be a different story, but for now, its a glorious time to have digital as a more than viable purchase option to enable us to access higher quality movies at significantly cheaper prices.

#greattimetobealive; #weveneverhaditsogood

;)
 
Last edited:

ggwoodland

Well-known Member
I agree the picture quality for ATV 4K Dolby Vision films is pretty close to the 4K UHDs. I do find the audio a bit lacking though - but hopefully Apple will follow the Netflix example and up their audio bit rates - George
 

Over by there

Well-known Member
Apple uses a good bit rate for 4k delivery, I did try to do side by side at the start but gave that up. If I liked what I saw on a streamed film then that was good enough for me. Quite frankly my pocket cannot take the £20 hit for every 4k disk. They are pegged at that price by the studios. I don't know what their plan is.

I expect all hard copies to die off as streaming takes over, it is inevitable. Apart from niche suppliers perhaps. When the rates allow for better than blu ray, I wonder what the excuse will be. Studios need to sort digital ownership out though, that is the next big thing I think. Buy it through Apple, leave Apple service you should get a digital key for it to watch it where ever you go to.

Now codecs due out as well, they are going to be very interesting.
 

Abacus

Banned
The problem with streaming services is that they rely on getting a deal with the film studios to show their films, unfortunately this is not guaranteed which means if the plug is pulled anything you have bought from that studio via the streaming service is gone, (Unless you have a physical copy of it) remember with Disney streaming coming online they are looking at removing their films from other streaming services over time, which means unless you have a physical copy the only way to watch them will be by subscribing to Disney.

Compressed audio will always be inferior to uncompressed audio (Assuming the studios/engineers haven’t screwed it up) however whether you notice the difference will depend on how good your system is, so you can’t say the difference doesn’t matter, as to many it does.

As internet speeds increase (Remember there are still quite a few stuck with less than 2Mb connections so streaming is not an option) then streaming services can improve, but until then you have what’s available today. (Which too many people sucks)

As to physical 4K Discs, then while people are daft enough to shell out £20-30 on a Disc, the prices will never drop. (If people stopped buying them they would be half the price in next door to no time)

Apple has its own eco system which most of the public don’t want to be tied into, (To many people Apple = Rip Off) no matter how good the quality. (This is why Apple has such a small user base even though Apple tries to convince you otherwise)

Bill
 

GrazzaB

Well-known Member
Bill you make a good point on streaming speed and I totally get that streaming isn't for everyone if they've not got fibre, so no argument there. Re. the Disney issue, everything you've bought on other platforms will still be available on those platforms, it's just that the likes of sky and Netflix probably won't be able to stream them to you.

Also I agree that disc atmos is better than streamed, I just don't think the difference is massive. I've got a 9.2 receiver running 7. 1.2 through monitor audio silver / gold speakers and I still don't think the difference is massive. One of the best soundtracks I have ever heard at home for immersion was the remake of Blair witch, which at the time was in DD 5.1 only on my apple TV! It probably helps that DTS-X does such a great job of upscaling 5.1 / 7.1 non-atmos content.
 

GrazzaB

Well-known Member
I’m with you,I also use a projector and I feel that it’s like this

UHD Blu-Ray>>>>>4K ATV>>>>>Blu-Ray>>>>>4K streams on Netflix/Amazon etc>>>>>HD streams.

Totally agree with this. I bought upposedly UHD streams of Jumanji and Justice League on Rakuten TV and they were pretty soft and full of artifacts so nowhere near even BR quality for me. Apple TV stuff on the other hand is superb, even HD. And I do not understand why none of the other platforms seem to offer extras when Apple releases have them a good 60-70% of the time.

Re. value this is also huge for me - I paid 9.99 for Battle Angel Alita in 4k HDR with ATMOS, plus all the disc's extras. And that 9.99 was before taking into account topcashback and the 20% discount I'd got on iTunes vouchers. So less than £8 all in. I would never have taken a punt on it for £25.
 

GrazzaB

Well-known Member
I agree the picture quality for ATV 4K Dolby Vision films is pretty close to the 4K UHDs. I do find the audio a bit lacking though - but hopefully Apple will follow the Netflix example and up their audio bit rates - George

That would be great wouldn't it. No reason why that couldn't happen and then it would be even closer. Plus it would be applied to your existing library.
 

Smurf100

Well-known Member
Earlier this year itunes 4K streaming copy protection was finally cracked, allowing a comparison between file sizes. For example, the Brightburn 4K stream is 15.71GB, while the 4K disc rip is 51.29GB. The Avengers Endgame stream seems comparatively better (but it’s also a longer film) at 31.85GB compared to 61.38GB for the disc.

I’m curious as to what this huge difference in file size relates to; those with high end audio equipment do mention a significant improvement in disc sound quality, but it seems less noticeable re: picture quality. Somewhat cynically, I wonder if the movie companies do perhaps add some unnecessary padding to increase and bulk out the file size for UHD discs, perhaps to make it harder and more cumbersome for general members of the public without ultra fast broadband to download ripped uncompressed files, etc. Back in the day I used to suspect that they did this with movies released on DVDs - a file size of anything over 4.7GB prevented copying of the film to a standard retail DVDR, instead requiring a dual layer DVDR and more specialised equipment to produce.
 

jwsg

Well-known Member
Comparing file sizes (and therefore bitrate) between streaming / disk wont help as different codecs are in use. I've found Itunes movies a great way of getting UHD content but it's the audio I notice the most. Lossless disk tracks always sound much richer and more solid than DD+ from streaming, even though the PQ is great - esp on recent films and 4k remasters.
There are good discounts on UHD disks some time after release, but over the year Itunes prices are hard to beat - there's no way I would have seen so many 4K films otherwise.
It's a shame Star Wars and Marvell universe stuff isnt in 4K on Itunes and when it appears on Disney - and hopefully in DV and Atmos - that will surely be a sub rather than on off purchase like Itunes films.
I was happy to add the cost of a ATV4K to the TV as the price is comparable to a disk player, but from this year if you can get Itunes as a TV app then it's even more of a deal.
 

Abacus

Banned
Bill you make a good point on streaming speed and I totally get that streaming isn't for everyone if they've not got fibre, so no argument there. Re. the Disney issue, everything you've bought on other platforms will still be available on those platforms, it's just that the likes of sky and Netflix probably won't be able to stream them to you.

Also I agree that disc atmos is better than streamed, I just don't think the difference is massive. I've got a 9.2 receiver running 7. 1.2 through monitor audio silver / gold speakers and I still don't think the difference is massive. One of the best soundtracks I have ever heard at home for immersion was the remake of Blair witch, which at the time was in DD 5.1 only on my apple TV! It probably helps that DTS-X does such a great job of upscaling 5.1 / 7.1 non-atmos content.

Something to be aware of, even with Apple Apple Responds To Disappearing iTunes Movie Purchases Issue

Bill
 

Mark Costello

Distinguished Member
Absolutely.

But therein lies the rub with all of this - there is no perfect ownership solution: physical media, while the safest for retaining permanent ownership and the highest quality is the most expensive and storage heavy (and for those of us owning more than 2,500 discs this IS a major problem, even if it is a first world one!); yet digital ownership, while offering sufficiently high quality and much cheaper prices, comes with a risk of future loss...….

(Of course the perfect solution is to rip all physical purchases to a server but...,...well that has its own rights and time issues....!)

My view on this is that the majority of losses I've read about either come from people trying to break the system (either knowingly operating outside of how the system is supposed to work - all of us Brits with Movies Anywhere and US iTunes accounts - or unknowingly - like the guy who moved countries, which are likely to be one-off events and not effect the vast majority of us) or for a small number of films with complex distribution rights issues that may be in flux...….however this can also effect physical media by simply not making it available at all: but I accept to a much lesser extent. Both situations that while may hurt the odd hardcore owner, such as ourselves, but not the vast majority of people with mainstream movie tastes and habits.

The one thing from the current state of digital ownership that is giving me hope that eventually, even with this perceived fragmentation of the market that we all know is well on the way, all will be well is what's happened in the UK with the digital ownership market (both providers and with UV) - we started off with a mess of providers (Flixster, Talk Talk, etc) that eventually settled down to just one that offered no real world use (no way of getting the films onto a TV other than casting). Since that's been announced that it will be going away, the solution now is that Google Play will take over our UV libraries, suddenly giving us a much better and more evolved and integrated solution that we had before. And if I'm going to feel smug about this, for those of us with MA accounts, suddenly we have a much better integrated solution than even the US has, as we can still be getting those pesky Lionsgate studio films in the same library! He he he.

Sure, we don't know the real situations that may arise from this come October (especially those of us with US libraries already ported over into UK Google Play accounts.....eek!), but for me, this gives me hope that for ownership - NOT casual watching - the market will start to settle down and we'll be left with fewer, bigger players that while not necessarily solving the issues raised in the article above, will offer much better shorter and medium term solutions.

Longer term? Who knows...…..its likely that these global behemoths like Apple, Google, Amazon, etc will simply buy movie studios eventually. This may mean that we end up with an uber fragmented system, the likes of which is only a little bit better than what we have now - each studio having their own streaming services. But by then...….who the hell knows what our movie watching habits will be. I used to be anti-iTunes for music for this exact reason......and then I realised that actually I don't consume music in the same way as I used to, stopped worrying about it and now enjoy hugely Spotify.

Of course, my movie habits haven't quite...….evolved like that yet. Thank god! But my view is that by running my two libraries - the main physical one for the super blockbusters and specialist titles form the likes of Arrow, Criterion, etc, and the digital one for films I'm less bothered about owning and buying at a price not much more than a rental - I'm covering my ass basically. For the hardcore owner, this surely is the only way to have the best of both worlds.

Granted, that doesn't help those who prefer to not have the complexity of multiple accounts/libraries...….but since when in life is anything work having ever easy?

Anyway, I think all this choice in ownership is a good thing but I do think that more needs to be made of the T&Cs around each, especially when the likes of Apple almost try their hardest to hoodwink us with blandly worded explanations to real world issues...…..
 
Last edited:

hippo99

Distinguished Member
Absolutely.

But therein lies the rub with all of this - there is no perfect ownership solution: physical media, while the safest for retaining permanent ownership and the highest quality is the most expensive and storage heavy (and for those of owning more than 2,500 discs this IS a major problem, even if it a first world one!); yet digital ownership, while offering sufficiently high quality and much cheaper prices, comes with a risk of future loss...….
I’ve actually had to rebuy quite a few Blu-ray discs that had randomly stopped working. No idea why. Discs used to work fine & no visible scratches, just randomly stopped working on multiple players.

I’m still physical 1st but do also like the flexibility that MA gives. Without MA, I doubt I would have considered using digital alongside my physical purchases.
 

Mark Costello

Distinguished Member
I’ve actually had to rebuy quite a few Blu-ray discs that had randomly stopped working. No idea why. Discs used to work fine & no visible scratches, just randomly stopped working on multiple players.

I’m still physical 1st but do also like the flexibility that MA gives. Without MA, I doubt I would have considered using digital alongside my physical purchases.
^ totally.

It will be interesting to see what happens with codes being given away with discs. At the moment it’s these that are both driving digital penetration into us traditional physical owners and driving prices down due to the ‘illegal’ sales of these codes.

If these codes stop being given and we’re left with only prices and purchase options from the services themselves, well that’s just another wrinkle.......most of my digital library additions come from these codes in discs I buy or these aftermarket sellers: if they stop, so to will the majority of my digital purchases methinks.......hmmmmm.

Interesting times.......
 

Mark Costello

Distinguished Member
Just reading back my drivel from the posts above and I realised I had gone off topic quite a lot - the OP asked about quality. So just to try and bring my ramblings back into some form of context......

I do think that the quality of iTunes streaming is fantastic. On a visual front, I'm often hard pressed to spot any significant differences between disc and streamed versions of the same film. Audio-wise as many have mentioned, I can hear a difference between a lossy stream and a full fat lossless track...not a huge one mind, but its more apparent to me than the visuals.

I think the main reason why we don't see many reviews for these versions of films is because the hardware plays such a massive role in the quality - both the streamer, your network connection and broadband speeds and how your display deals with the issues that both throw up play much more of a role in the end image than in simple BD/UHD player connected to the TV. So many variables to take into account must be an absolute minefield......

..….but I do think that you can't discuss the quality because its intrinsically linked to the value proposition: the quality is good enough because of the value and low price. Similarly, we will put up with quality of the stream that may be below par because we only paid a few quid for it as opposed to us dropping £15-£20 on something and demanding higher quality from it.

Right. Promise I'll stop now...…...:eek:
 

dante01

Distinguished Member

Irrespective of the video quality, there's no escaping the fact that the audio is not HD and cannot be comparable to the lossless HD formats associated with Blu-rays as long as the streaming services rely upon SD lossy DD+. It is not possible to match the bitrate of HD formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio using Dolby Digital Plus despite the fact that Atmos metadata can be packaged with both TrueHD or DD+ formatted audio. Note that Apple actually rely upon Dolby MAT (Dolby Metadata-enhanced Audio Transmission) to allow the ATV to output Atmos metadata in conjunction with multichannel PCM. but the ATV derives the PCM audio as a result off decoding the DD+ formatted audio itseld and the ATV cannot bitstream DD+ if wanting Atmos.


It should also be pointed out that even if buying the films via iTunes, you don't get to download the 4K UHD variants and the content can be removed from the iTunes service at any time by Apple. You buy a disc and you own it and whatever is on it for as long as you own it.
 
Last edited:
I buy discs, but basically treat them as rentals. Selling them on quickly after I've seen at a cost of a few pounds after postage and drop in value. I'm thinking of going all digital. Is there any difference between rakuten TV (which my soon to be purchased LG C9 has an app for) and Apple TV, which will require me buying an Apple TV 4k. So less ideal.
 

rob72

Active Member
Apple 4k tv for punts and any film starring Gerard Butler. 4k blu ray for big ticket items.
DV on Apple 4k is better than the HDR 10 version on disc though.
 

rob72

Active Member
I buy discs, but basically treat them as rentals. Selling them on quickly after I've seen at a cost of a few pounds after postage and drop in value. I'm thinking of going all digital. Is there any difference between rakuten TV (which my soon to be purchased LG C9 has an app for) and Apple TV, which will require me buying an Apple TV 4k. So less ideal.

Very little DV on Rakuten
 

NatTheGooner

Well-known Member
I’ve had to bin a few DVDs and Blu-rays that won’t play, my Silence of the Lambs disc even changed colour to a bronze tint, wouldn’t play at all, so the buying discs to own forever is not the always the case.
I bought the UHD of The first Fantastic Beasts film and had loads of family over to watch it (even had a suitcase full of pastries for snacks) it played fine until one scene was completely ruined by stuttering and pixel break up. I had to stop and check the disc but it looked spotless tried again and it was fine - very annoying, spoiled the experience.

So I’m now a digital convert - sold almost every disc. I bought 20+ films to play on my Apple TV and lots (like the Harry Potter collection) have been upgraded to 4K then later Dolby Vision then later Dolby Atmos has been added - it’s great. My £3.99 Wizard of Oz is going to be next I think - 8k scan, remastered etc, also Jaws, Stand by Me.

Pros to me are
no plastic discs and packaging
No discs to scratch or degrade
Your library is accessible with just a few clicks
Bargain prices
Films upgraded for free
Can be played on different devices from one purchase.
 

xxGBHxx

Well-known Member
Quality is with 4k disks at the moment but to me it's irrelevant.

I've written before somewhere on this forum about my general distrust of streaming and how I just don't like it. I don't trust the studios and I definitely don't trust the like of Apple, Google, Amazon etc. to not screw me over. They've historically repeatedly done it and I see it all happening again.

Yes it's irrational and no I don't care that it is. I want something tangible I can hold in my hands for the money I hand over. It's old fashined, it's sometimes inconvenient and it's expensive but guess what. They can revoke or withdraw my rights to watch/play what I have as much as they like but they can't stop me watching a disk I own once I have it in my hands. Good luck with that on any streaming service...

G
 

gkatz

Active Member
stopped reading the thread half way.
in simple terms. anyone who claims 4K straming is good enough is simply not a videophile. there is no way you can use half or third of the bitrate of the original media (be it a UHD disk or a digital REMUX) and not notice.
all of the netflix 4K streams uncover many video processing issues in various hi-end TVs due to the low bitrate.
if you like a movie very much do yourself a favor and get the disk or the remux. no other way around it unless you do not care enough (which is ok)
 

The latest video from AVForums

AVForums Movies Podcast: We review Dune and ask which is the best decade for horror movies?
Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Latest News

Samsung Tizen plans include cloud gaming for smart TVs
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Freeview Play racks up 10 million users
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
What's new on UK streaming services for November 2021
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
PROMOTED: Which OLED is King? 2021 Shootout at Abbey Road Studios
  • By Promoted Content Poster
  • Published
Hisense TVs get Disney+ on VIDAA smart OS
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published

Full fat HDMI teeshirts

Support AVForums with Patreon

Top Bottom