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Portables (Apple) Hardware

iPod Video Coming to a Car Near You 823

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the seeing-is-believing dept.
_am99_ writes "In the "one more thing" media event today, an iPod that can play Video was announced. The initial content seems to be music videos that can be purchased from the iTunes Music Store." In related news aquachannel writes "Apple has just updated their iPodYourCar page to include a slew of new car companies. This means that there'll be a lot of cars that you can buy off the showroom floor and use your iPod with your car - right off the floor and out of the box."
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iPod Video Coming to a Car Near You

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  • From Engadget (Score:5, Informative)

    by dancpsu (822623) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:28PM (#13775236) Journal
    Act I: The iMac G5. We sold over a million of them in its first year. What better place to put the computer than right behind the display? Today we're introducing and all new iMac. [It looks extremely similar] Three great new features.

    (1) It's even thinner. The 20-inch is now thinner than the 17 used to be.

    (2) iSight videocam. The new mac has an iSight built in. The camera has even better specs. Right out of the box videoconferencing without any extra stuff. We wrote a new app called PhotoBooth. [Demo: It has a built in flash - the entire display flashes. There are special effects including "Warhol" and effects that morph your face goofily.]

    (3) Front Row. It s a new way to experience the media on your computer. It's an incredible way to enjoy your music, your videos, and your photos ... from your sofa. We've done a remote control, Apple style. It's got six buttons. [Demo: He presses remote and a menu for Music / Photo / DVD / Video zooms in. There's a giant iPod-style interface for music. "I can enjoy my music from across the room and see the artwork."

    Photos navigates through everything in iPhoto with slide show effects for albums.

    "Now, a lot of people watch DVDs in their iMac, and it would be nice to control them from across the room. Now you can." [Loads DVD of The Incredibles with menu that blurs out the typically unusable menu on the DVD with an iPod-style menu. Movie posters and trailers in HD format streamed from apple.com] This remote control, I just wanted to point something that to me captures what Apple is all about. [Shot of huge button-congested remotes next to the tiny 6-button Apple remote]

    Specs: Bluetooth, Superdrive, Mighty Mouse standard. 17-inch $1299. 20-inch $1699. Available today.

    Act II: The iPod. We announced yesterday that we had shipped almost 30 million iPods. Our market share, 75% of all MP3 players shipping. Five weeks ago we introduced the iPod nano. And you know what? We shipped over a million iPod nanos in the first 17 days, and we could not meet demand. But what about the white iPod? It's been a huge success for us. And therefore, we're going to replace it. The new white iPod. And yes, it does video.

    Specs: Same width and height as current model, but thinner. QVGA (324 x 240) pixel 260,000 color 2.5-inch display. h.264 and MPEG-4 at 30 fps. TV out. 30GB and 60GB models. Same width and height. 30GB is 31% thinner than the curent 20GB model [Making it 0.44-inches thick--say wha?]. 60G is 12% thinner than 20GB. 30G up to 75 hours of video, $299. 60G up to 150 hours video, $399. Shipping in one week.

    And, by popular demand, we make it in black. They also come with a nice carrying case, to keep 'em all perfect. [Thin plastic sleeve--aw shucks]

    [AD: U2 performing live. Oh wait ... it's on an iPod! New silhouette ad with Eminem -- it's not silhouette but a limited color palette. Steve likes the ads so much he runs each one twice. ]

    The new iPod will be 30% thinner than the current 20GB iPod (making it 0.44-inches thick--say wha?), and will feature a 60GB version (which should be thinner than the current 0.63-inch thick 20GB iPod), and editions of both in black.

    What's the device named, you ask? The iPod. That's it, just The iPod. Well spare you the Prince jokes. The iPod will have TV out.

    Stevie has iTunes 6.0 up there--only about a month after introducing iTunes 5.0.

    iTunes 6.0 will also feature video and the iTunes Music Store will feature Fairplay DRMed video downloads (big surprise, right?).

    At launch over 2,000 music videos will be made available at a cost of $1.99 apiece. You can download iTunes 6.0 starting today.

    Oh, and one more thing...

    It's not only music videos you can buy. No, Apple's set up to allow you to purchase TV shows for $1.99 apiece. Get Desperate Housewives or four other ABC shows premiering on iTunes at two bucks an ep. Videos are native QVGA resolution.

    More details to come...
  • Video Quality (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chubby_C (874060) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:29PM (#13775249)
    I'm wondering if the resoution of the videos/shows they will be selling will be sufficient enough to watch not only on the V-Ipod but also on your computer, or on a TV (not only with the TV out)? What about burning to DVD?
  • by Black Art (3335) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:30PM (#13775257)
    A friend of mine has a mini cooper with the ipod option. Pretty cool. The ipod just plugs into the glove compartment. The controls are accessable from the stereo. Better than listening to American radio.

    Now if I could just get BBC 6radio in a car stereo.
  • No more eMacs (Score:5, Informative)

    by linguae (763922) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:35PM (#13775307)

    I noticed on Apple's page that the eMac is gone. It is no longer on Apple's hardware website (except under "eMac for Education"), and it is no longer sold at the Apple store.

    I guess the Mac Mini must have made the eMac a bit redundant, so sales of the eMac must have dropped tremendously.

  • by NekSnappa (803141) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:42PM (#13775387)
    These units have a dock connector in the glove box, and allow you to control the iPod using the stereo controls on the steering wheel.
  • Re:TV Shows, too (Score:2, Informative)

    by schnikies79 (788746) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:43PM (#13775407)
    itunes has played video (mov) since 4.x
  • Buffalo bagels. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:43PM (#13775410)
    The video they're offering is 320x240 to match the resolution of the Video iPods. A typical TV show takes 10-20 minutes to download from the iTunes Music & Video Store.

    I don't see too many people lining up to download episodes of "That's So Raven" at $1.99 a pop, but mayve that's just me.
  • by Jozer99 (693146) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:44PM (#13775414)
    Not sure, but I think most of them actually have a dock connecter and some limited software integration that allows you to pause, skip, ect with the stereo controls. Some even display song title and playlists, ect, while others treat the ipod as a CD changer.
  • by zalas (682627) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:46PM (#13775432) Homepage
    According to the Apple Store [apple.com], the iPod 30GB will support "Over 75 hours of video." The 60GB will support "Over 150 hours of video."
  • Re:No Divx support? (Score:5, Informative)

    by fracai (796392) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:46PM (#13775434)
    H.264 video: up to 768 Kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per sec., Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats
    MPEG-4 video: up to 2.5 mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Simple Profile with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats


    looks like all you need to do is re-encode your DivX as h.264. shouldn't be a problem if you were able to encode the DVD or TV stream to DivX in the first place ... :)
  • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tanguyr (468371) <tanguyr+slashdot@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:48PM (#13775458) Homepage
    Unless it's Apple's intention that you don't watch the content on your video iPod, this seems very highly unlikely.

    The apple store is selling an AV cable to "...connect your iPod to a television -- either directly or via the Universal Dock" - price: $19

  • Re:Finally... (Score:2, Informative)

    by w3weasel (656289) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:48PM (#13775464) Homepage
    from the apple store:
    H.264 video up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per second
    so, not true HD, but comperable to DVD
  • Re:There. You happy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by generic-man (33649) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:48PM (#13775467) Homepage Journal
    All iPods with a Dock connector work with the FrontRow remote. All you need is their new "Universal Dock" with a remote receiver.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mysqlrocks (783488) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:53PM (#13775510) Homepage Journal
    only Japan and Korea really have the telecommunications infrastructure to support this.

    ...and Burlington, VT USA where I live. I am a beta tester for a municipal fiber optic service which will deliver high speed Internet access to every resident by 2007. As a beta tester I'm getting 5Mbps symmetrical service. This should be sufficient for HD content. People don't have faster service because there is little demand for faster service (people really just surf the web and maybe download a few songs). DSL and Cable are fast enough for most users Internet habits. There is a little demand for faster service because there is little out there that people would use this bandwidth for. All we need is a few places with decent bandwidth and a few services that can take advantage of these services and consumers will start to demand it. I, for one, say bring it on. Give me a super fast connection and services that take advantage of this bandwidth. Somebody needs to push the limits of the current technology. We can't just say, "downloading HD content won't work because nobody has the bandwidth for that" and then on the other hand Cable and DSL companies are saying, "why are we going to give our customers faster service, what the hell are they going to use it for?" Somebody needs to have some balls to throw a service out there to start showing people what's possible.
  • by enrico_suave (179651) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:55PM (#13775536) Homepage
    ABC has LOST and Desperate Housewives up for $1.99 in itunes right now...

    see flickr photo of LOST page [flickr.com]

    i mean it'll have to be a much more extensive library, but it is an interesting baby step in the right direction... (that is till we find out the DRM times out/expires or something... wondering what I'm *buying* for $1.99 exactly)

    e.
  • Re:No Divx support? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @02:58PM (#13775573)
    I wonder if the video iPod will be able to gain traction without supporting the large collections of TV episodes, music videos, and movies that users already have in their collection in Divx format.

    If only it were that easy. The incredibly variety of formats and codecs that people have "collected" precludes this. There is simply no standardization. "DivX" doesn't often mean "DivX, Inc.'s standardized format". It sometimes means XviD, or AC3 audio, or OGG audio or subtitles, or this or that.

    That said, Mac users will have no trouble using HandBrake DVD rips.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Informative)

    by dr.badass (25287) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:05PM (#13775631) Homepage
    Apple releasing a living room media center app called FrontRow with an iPod-like remote (which has 6 buttons compared to Microsoft Media Center's 40 buttons)

    Bear in mind that the button comparison is a bit skewed, as Windows Media Center's remote includes functions for that archaic device: the television.
  • by pmike_bauer (763028) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:06PM (#13775654)
    Its only 3 hours of batter life. [apple.com]
  • by WozRus (92184) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:09PM (#13775681)
    One other thing worth mentioning is this spec on Apple's iMac tech specs page:

    ATI Radeon X600 Pro (17-inch model) or XT (20-inch model) graphics processor using PCI-Express

    AFAIK, this is the first Mac to use PCI-Express. Here's hoping the upcoming Power Macs will sport this as well.

    -W
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:11PM (#13775702) Journal
    DivX is a CODEC which implements the MPEG-4 bytestream format. Like XviD and the QuickTime MPEG-4 encoder, it produces MPEG-4 bytestreams of the form playable by the iPod (assuming it satisfies the bitrate / resolution constraints, and has an audio stream that the iPod can play, e.g. MPEG-4 AAC) and any other MPEG-4 player.
  • Re:Finally...-math (Score:2, Informative)

    by kgruscho (801766) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:17PM (#13775752)
    2x2=4

    320x240=76800
    640x480=307200 (VGA)

    320x240 is QVGA for quarter VGA
    it has 1/4 the pixels and data.
  • by porcupine8 (816071) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:22PM (#13775805) Journal
    From Apple.com:

    From there, the sky's the limit, because you own purchased video forever. Watch as many times as you choose, share between five computers, burn to data CDs or sync to the new iPod.

    Sounds like it's exactly like the DRM for music, except you can't burn actual DVDs. Until someone posts the workaround next week.

  • by goodbadorugly (837673) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:29PM (#13775872)
    The front page of apple.com specifically has the words "home movies" So it looks like you'll be able to put all you want on this baby (probably as long as its encoded in quicktime)
  • by SamTheButcher (574069) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:30PM (#13775891) Journal
    If you take all of it in to your (hopefully) local Apple Store and ask nicely, you might be surprised.

    Then again, if you take it in and ask nicely and they say "no", ask louder and gripe more. If they still say no, whine and cry and gripe and ask for the manager.

    Then you'll be surprised. :)

  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:40PM (#13775968)
    not true HD, but comperable to DVD

    More like comparable to VCD and SVCD.
  • Re:One more thing... (Score:3, Informative)

    by IainMH (176964) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:53PM (#13776068)
    Oh a big bag of _-*WOOSH* to everyone who has replied to this so far!

    It's referencing CmdrTaco's infamous review of the iPod when it first came out.

    http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=01/10/23/ 1816257&tid=107 [slashdot.org]

    N.B. When *is* Slashdot going to start adding years to the timestamps?

  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:55PM (#13776098) Homepage
    "H.264 video up to 768 kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per second; MPEG-4 video up to 2.5mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per second"

    so, not true HD, but comperable to DVD


    You are aware most DVDs are 720x480 or 720x576, right? I still don't quite get that one because H.264 = MPEG4 Level 10. Either way, it won't look different on your iPod. The first one is the same resolution as a CGA screen, hehe. It's got slightly more than the 16 colors I used to have though.
  • Re:No Divx support? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Tab is on Slashdot (853634) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @03:57PM (#13776113) Homepage
    Not just theoretically, but in practice [sourceforge.net].
  • Re:Not just videos (Score:5, Informative)

    by n8_f (85799) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:06PM (#13776196) Homepage
    They definitely need to up the video resolution (and they will, once the new video iPod comes out next year and they start integrating this with Frontrow), but I'm watching the first episode of Lost full-screen on my iBook and I have to say, the quality is about the same as the 350MB versions I get over BitTorrent. I thought it was going to be crap, but I am pretty impressed. I won't buy much more (maybe Lost, if I pick up the first season on DVD), because they really need to raise the resolution to at least TV levels (640x480 or 720x480) and I don't want to have to buy it twice, but for just 2 bucks, I think everyone should check it out. Plus, it only uses 40% of my processor, which isn't bad at all.

    I have been waiting for this for so long! Now if I could just get the Daily Show, Peepshow, or The Mighty Boosh....
  • by huxrules (649822) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:18PM (#13776276)
    When apple came out with Quicktime 7.0.2 many mac users had problems with MATLAB and other programs. I specifically had problems with MATLAB (would crash on start) the fix was to roll back to 7.0.1 using a reinstaller on apple's website. Anyways this new Itunes 6 seems to update to 7.0.3 (thats what is says on my xp box)- I don't know if it will cause problems. Mac users might want to check www.macfixit.com to see if their programs are affected. For myself I am just going to avoid upgrading- as I need to use MATLAB more than I need to watch Lost!
  • by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:19PM (#13776292) Homepage
    DivX is a CODEC which implements the MPEG-4 bytestream format. Like XviD and the QuickTime MPEG-4 encoder, it produces MPEG-4 bytestreams of the form playable by the iPod (assuming it satisfies the bitrate / resolution constraints, and has an audio stream that the iPod can play, e.g. MPEG-4 AAC) and any other MPEG-4 player.

    Well, there's MPEG4, MPEG4 and MPEG4. DivX/Xvid are MPEG4 ASP, but not the same as MPEG4 AVC aka MPEG4 level 10 aka H.264. And AAC is a sound codec (though used mostly with MPEG4 AVC). Long live confusion.
  • Re:FrontRow Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by WombatControl (74685) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:23PM (#13776318)
    Yes, the new remote will be available for separate purchase - it's $29. I'd imagine that includes FrontRow. However, the wait times are 2-3 weeks at the moment, which probably explains why they're not publicizing that.
  • Re:One more thing... (Score:5, Informative)

    by aCC (10513) * on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:25PM (#13776347) Homepage
    sheesh. You were modded funny. maybe you meant it as a joke. Maybe you didn't. =P

    You must be new here.

    Read this [slashdot.org] to understand why it's funny. Notice the editor's comment to the story. Still cracks me up every time I read it. :-)
  • No problem... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mblase (200735) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:27PM (#13776363)
    As long as I can put my own videos (e.g. recorded with a TV capture card) on the iPod, this is awesome. If it's for the store only, forget it.

    You can add any digital video to iTunes 6 (and to iTunes 5?), as long as it's Quicktime-playable. Presumably anything you have in iTunes will then sync with your iPod. So yeah, it looks like any video you record yourself can go to your video iPod.
  • Re:FrontRow Question (Score:3, Informative)

    by pmike_bauer (763028) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:34PM (#13776422)
    Some guy on www.tuaw.com claims to have spoken with an apple sales rep about this [tuaw.com]. Supposedly, Front Row won't be available for older macs. I sure hope he's wrong.
  • Re:Finally... (Score:4, Informative)

    by The Lynxpro (657990) <lynxproNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:41PM (#13776481)
    "Hell... I'd pay 4.99 per episode for the new Doctor Who. Are you listening BBC/Apple?"

    Even better, why don't you (and others) tell Apple directly?

    http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipod.html [apple.com]

    It should be noted that the BBC allowed the new *Doctor Who* to be made available on Sony PSP UMD format - but only in Europe - just as with the DVD release.

    If you'd like to rattle up the online Doctor Who fanbase, join Outpost Gallifrey (www.gallifreyone.com) and share your opinion about watching NewWHO on your iPod.

  • Re:Finally... (Score:5, Informative)

    by That's Unpossible! (722232) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:44PM (#13776514)
    "Right now, Apple's videos are at 320x240, probably for bandwidth reasons as well as the fact that HD H.264 decoding requires a powerful machine that most don't have yet."

    Au contraire, the new ipod specs say it supports:

    H.264 video: up to 768 Kbps, 320 x 240, 30 frames per sec., Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3 with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats
    MPEG-4 video: up to 2.5 mbps, 480 x 480, 30 frames per sec., Simple Profile with AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 Khz, stereo audio in .m4v, .mp4 and .mov file formats
  • by mblase (200735) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @04:58PM (#13776642)
    For those who care, this is from one of Apple's Quicktime pages at http://www.apple.com/quicktime/tutorials/creatingv ideo.html [apple.com] -- it follows a short guide about how to use new Quicktime 7.0.3 to export video to an iPod-ready format.

    By following the steps in this tutorial, QuickTime 7 Pro will automatically create an .m4v file containing H.264 video and AAC audio that is optimized for iPod. iPod can play the following video formats:

    H.264 video
    File formats: .m4v, .mp4 and .mov
    Video: Up to 768 Kbps, 320 x 240 pixels, 30 frames per second, Baseline Profile up to Level 1.3
    Audio: AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio

    MPEG-4 video
    File formats: .m4v, .mp4 and .mov
    Video: Up to 2.5 Mbps, 480 x 480 pixels, 30 frames per second, Simple Profile
    Audio: AAC-LC up to 160 Kbps, 48 KHz, stereo audio
  • by saj_s (667330) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:27PM (#13776871)
    >> Apple! PLEASE! Do something with the powerbooks!

    They are doing something; they're switching to x86 next year.
  • by Hollinger (16202) <michael&hollinger,net> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @05:55PM (#13777063) Homepage Journal
    I just downloaded Lost. I figured $1.99 was worth seeing the video quality, finding out out the file size, and watching my favorite TV show of the season while I work. ;-)

    The file is indeed 320x240, and for 43 minutes and change, is 197 megabytes. The download took a little time; I'm not sure how much since I forgot to clock it.

    The video is compressed very well. It looks clear and crisp, and the audio sounds great. In fact, I scaled it up to full screen and had a cluster of people watching a few choice scenes (we were trying to identify the manufacturer of the reel-to-reel drives ;-) ). The video is very watchable.

    This will be interesting... I wonder what sorts of bonus material they will include?

    Also, its interesting to note that video is not very well integrated into iTunes (for Windows). For example, when I right-click on the file, it still says "Show Song File." Also, you'd think that Apple, being Apple, would stick my downloaded videos into another folder than "My Music" in "My Documents."

    These are small things. However, these are the things that Apple generally gets right.

    ~ Mike
  • by vertinox (846076) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @06:09PM (#13777165)
    Sounds like it's exactly like the DRM for music, except you can't burn actual DVDs. Until someone posts the workaround next week.

    If it is quicktime video all you have to do is just convert it to an *.m2v or some other MPeg2 format. You can buy a Quicktime codec to do this or use Final Cut Pro. Then you have make a DVD image through some type of program than can ecode a DVD disc. (like DVD Studio) If you actually have paid for DVD Studio Pro you can then burn it to DVD. Otherwise, you can use roxio to burn the image and I think later macs support this nativley...

    However, you can most likely find third party apps to do this all for free because if you actually paid for Final Cut Pro and DVD studio like I did then you out of $2,000 right then and there and just to make DVD out of stuff you download from the net is just not worth that price tag (making your own videos/movies is, but I sometimes wonder why I didn't just buy alcohol instead seeing my creative talent was not that great)

    However it would have just been nice if Apple supports burning to DVDs through iDVD, but I doubt it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @06:48PM (#13777397)
    Let's not forget that Disney/ABC owns ESPN, so maybe it won't be long before sporting events are part of the lineup.
  • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @08:31PM (#13778128) Journal
    Fortunately for all concerned, Eisner's not running Disney anymore.

    -jcr
  • Re:Finally... (Score:2, Informative)

    by itcomesinwaves (890751) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @09:17PM (#13778391)
    what's so "au contraire" about that? Nothing you listed is anywhere near HD, which stars at 720x1,280 (720p). It doesn't even 480x852 (480p) which isn't technically HD (it's EDTV). I think the new iPod is cool, but don't be fooled into to thinking it does HD, it most definitely does not.
  • by mh101 (620659) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @10:11PM (#13778662)
    No, as the new iTMS doesn't have any movies on it.

    (yet...)

    What it does have, are music videos, Pixar shorts, and five TV shows, according to Steve's presentation.
  • by kabz (770151) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:01PM (#13778869) Homepage Journal
    Double-click to get a separate quicktime window from iTunes, then right-click or ctrl-click on the title bar and click 'full screen'.

    Hey presto, full screen video.
  • Re:Not just videos (Score:5, Informative)

    by n8_f (85799) on Wednesday October 12, 2005 @11:04PM (#13778888) Homepage
    Yes, a 21" monitor at close range is not the ideal viewing platform for this video.

    That said, you don't understand digital video if you don't understand how video at 320x240 could look better than video at 720x480. When looking at compressed video, the resolution is almost useless (after all, my video was 1024x768 when I played it full-screen). The most important characteristics are bitrate and codec (in that order). The bitrate of the Apple videos are about 650kb/s, while the bitrate of a 350MB encode of an hour-long drama like Lost, 24, etc. is about 1000kb/s. However, those are encoded with DivX, XviD, or a couple of other variants of MPEG-4, while Apple uses the far superior h.264 (MPEG-4 Part 10). So that closes the gap considerably.

    The third most important characteristic, and again, far more important than resolution (within reason - 64x48 video is going to be resolution-limited with regard to video quality no matter what the bitrate) would be the source video. And here again Apple is far superior. The DivX releases are taken from cable or broadcast signals and these have undergone at least one analog to digital conversion and very likely several. Both transmission methods throw out a lot of data, especially color information, even with digital cable. Then it is recorded to a computers hard drive, typically encoded as a high bit-rate MPEG-2 file (again losing data - even if it is straight DV, you are losing data) and then encoded again to the DivX format for final distribution. Compare that to Apple, which should be able to take the original HD digital masters and convert them directly to the digital format.

    Probably the fourth most important characteristic is going to be processing time. Most modern video codecs are asymmetric, in that encoding is far more expensive than decoding. And encoding video is a very computationally intensive process. There is a general tradeoff in terms of computational time and video quality. You quickly run into diminishing returns, but you can spent a lot of time optimizing your encoding, especially along the time scale (compressing using elements from previous/subsequent frames; this is usually limited by the decoders minimum requirements). Apple can probably throw a lot more processing power at the problem than anybody encoding TV broadcasts.

    So, yes, the resolution is only 320x240 and that sucks, but the quality is pretty high and the added detail allows it to scale well. The tiling is definitely more pronounced when scaled to full-screen in the Apple video, but the DivX versions have a lot more mosquito noise, which isn't surprising when you realize they are encoding with four times the number of pixels but only two thirds more kb/s.

    Overall, the edge goes to the DivX video, but it is a lot closer than most people would intuitively think. Remember, I'm not comparing this to analog TV, which is guaranteed to be better than its DivX equivalent, I am comparing it to a 350MB DivX version. Also, remember that the blurring of interlaced analog television sets tends to make motion video look better than it does on much less forgiving progressive computer monitors. If you really want to compare it to analog TV, you should watch it on an analog TV set, which is what I am going to do tonight.

  • by adpowers (153922) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @12:01AM (#13779148)
    Umm.... Lost and Desperate Housewives are both ABC products, along with the four other shows being offered online (in addition to the Pixar shorts and music videos).

    Andrew
  • Re:Finally... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mrchaotica (681592) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @12:03AM (#13779160)
    You want to know just how powerful a machine you need to decode H.264? Here's an example: even my 2GHz iMac G5 drops frames on a DVD-quality (4:3) video.
  • by Fahrvergnuugen (700293) on Thursday October 13, 2005 @08:45AM (#13780730) Homepage
    Quicktime 7.0.3 (released yesterday) has a preset for encoding video for iPods.

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