Rumor: Apple could offer 1080p movie downloads on iTunes

The iTunes download service from Apple has a growing list of movies available to purchase or rent. However you can only purchase either an SD version of the movie or pay extra for a so-called "HD" version. That HD version, however, only goes up to 720p resolution. So far Apple has yet to offer its customers access to full 1080p (1920x1080) high resolution video downloads. But according to the latest rumor, that might be changing in the near future.

According to AppleInsider, it has learned via unnamed sources that that the service could start offering 1080p movies in September or October. The sources claim that upcoming movies  will soon be available for purchase via iTunes in SD, 720p HD and the new 1080p resolution. Those movies will have a bitrate encoding of 10,000 kbps on average, according to the story.

The same story states that Apple might be getting ready to release a new version of the Apple TV device which can store videos from iTunes and play them on a big screen TV. The story claims that the Apple TV revision will have the dual core A5 chip inside which is the same chip in Apple's iPad 2. That chip is capable of handling the 1080p video. However, the story speculates that if Apple were to offer 1080p video via download it would do so as a direct download just for the PC and Mac platforms. 1080p files would certainly be much larger in terms of file size compared to the current SD and 720p HD movies that Apple currently has on iTunes.

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Sure took them a while to add this. I guess now it's a revolutionary new thing in movie downloads now that Apple is doing it.

"... start offering 1080p movies in September or October... Those movies will have a bitrate encoding of 10,000 kbps on average..."

IMHO they'd be better off, practically speaking, using 1440 x 1080 24p at that bit rate, but Apple's about marketing so they'd probably stick with full 1080p, figuring their customers would rather have bragging rights than a better picture. Oh well... Others already use the download in the background, watch n number of times later, so that biz model does work, & as a bonus you don't get poorer quality when there's a drop in bandwidth, or have to pick fights with bandwidth providers.

720p downloads are between 1 and 3gb. Similar 1080p ones are 15+ gb. Who really downloads 15gb for an hours entertainment, that's crazy.

dancedar said,
720p downloads are between 1 and 3gb. Similar 1080p ones are 15+ gb. Who really downloads 15gb for an hours entertainment, that's crazy.

People like me on 40mbps connections Seriously though, when you have the connection and space and TV's, you do appreciate the HD, and the size becomes irrelevant

dancedar said,
720p downloads are between 1 and 3gb. Similar 1080p ones are 15+ gb. Who really downloads 15gb for an hours entertainment, that's crazy.

Well, plenty of people do BD5/9, & for them it's no big deal to put a ~2 hr. movie at 1080p on a D/L DVD at between 9 & 10, & with Apple's resources they could drop the bit rate further in a lot of cases without an obvious drop in quality, so no reason really why downloads couldn't be around 1/2 of that 15 GB figure, or less.

Now 7 - 8 GB is still a fairly big download, but even at 15 GB, if it happens in the background &/or while you're away it's still more convenient than running to Blockbuster, or even in many cases to the mailbox. If you don't have to sit through 15-30 minutes of ads before the movie like with many BDs, that would tilt things in Apple's favor, & if Apple maintained a consistent high quality, for some folks that would decide it right there... there are many, many BDs where the video has been really poorly encoded.

So fecking what, some of the UK are still on sub 1mb speeds and data caps and fair usage rubbish. Fek me. I saw a 1080p version of metropolis the other day and i nearly wet myself with laughter. How about this just go out and buy the fecking dvd or BD... end done.... no more sh*t thank you..... end of line.....

Stup0t said,
So fecking what, some of the UK are still on sub 1mb speeds and data caps and fair usage rubbish. Fek me. I saw a 1080p version of metropolis the other day and i nearly wet myself with laughter. How about this just go out and buy the fecking dvd or BD... end done.... no more sh*t thank you..... end of line.....

they are going to let it be downloaded and watched later..

Stup0t said,
So fecking what, some of the UK are still on sub 1mb speeds and data caps and fair usage rubbish. Fek me. I saw a 1080p version of metropolis the other day and i nearly wet myself with laughter. How about this just go out and buy the fecking dvd or BD... end done.... no more sh*t thank you..... end of line.....
Not a problem if you're in a cable area. I'm running @ 50Mb down and 5Mb up.

No caps or speed restrictions apply to how much or how fast you download with web download/streaming. Although traffic management in the form of a speed reduction does apply to P2P traffic (if you're a heavy user).

Sucks to be you if you're stuck with DSL though.

Edited by youboreme, Jul 9 2011, 12:47pm :

Yeah that's a great move when ISPs are putting monthly caps on service. How about Apple tell the IPSs to kick rocks and remove monthly caps along with all the other companies, seems like only Netflix has the balls recently. All of these content providers need to get together and gang bang these stupid ISPs!!!

The next step after net neutrality legislation is to deal with the consequences of net neutrality, including how caps can artificially restrict one web site vs. another.

This is the real reason the ISPs are fighting net neutrality.

They want to force bandwidth fees on both ends of the stream, we the end-user and the upstream providers like Netflix.

This way, they get to double dip on what is actually the cheapest part of what they do...bandwidth. It only costs them a penny per gigabyte.

And they don't have to spend on their real hard costs, necessary infrastructure improvements (you know, to remain COMPETITIVE).

Profit+Profit+Profit = PROFIT

And is doesn't matter that the rest of the world will pass the US by...again...because of their never-ending ultimately self-defeating "bleed the country dry at any cost" mentality.

well it better be 10 mbps if they want to call it hd, not that other crap they pass off as HD when the bitrate is too low. But a typical movie will be 8 GB. I'd rather drive over to the video store, grab a real hd movie running at high bitrates,and watch it whenever i want,instead of waiting for a download that might even take a day or two for alot of people.

roadwarrior said,
HD is not defined by bitrate, period.
Period? Um no!

Sure it's not everything but it's a big piece of it. General real of thumb, higher the bit-rate higher the quality. Their of course always inspections to any rule.

roadwarrior said,
HD is not defined by bitrate, period.
Period? Um no!

Sure it's not everything but it's a big piece of it. General real of thumb, higher the bit-rate higher the quality. Their of course always inspections to any rule.

vcfan said,
well it better be 10 mbps if they want to call it hd, not that other crap they pass off as HD when the bitrate is too low. But a typical movie will be 8 GB. I'd rather drive over to the video store, grab a real hd movie running at high bitrates,and watch it whenever i want,instead of waiting for a download that might even take a day or two for alot of people.

Ok, you do realize the 'REAL HD' movie you are grabbing is averaging the same bitrate, right? Unless you found a way to rent a movie on media other than BluRay that the rest of the world doesn't know about.

HD content is VC1 or H.264, and is usually a variable bit rate that fluctuates from 1mbps to usually 8mpbs. So in theory a truly steady 6mbps connection should handle streaming of TRUE HD content. (Most 6mpbs DSL connections don't though; however a 8,10,12mpbs cable connection easily handles it with bandwidth left over.) -The lower bitrates are buffered, to compensate for realtime downloading, thus giving an average of about 5mbps for TRUE HD 1080p content.

I don't know why people get 'stuck' on the bitrate needing to be higher, as they never have access to higher bitrates for HD, unless it was encoded in MPEG2, which then needs about 30mbps to equal the 5mbps VC1/H.264.

In server streaming, there is also something called Smooth Streaming (introduced by Microsoft years ago) that is used in IIS media/http Windows servers, and even Netflix uses a variation of the Microsoft Smooth Streaming technology. So if your connection and buffer fail to meet the 5mbps average, instead of the movie "buffering.../pausing", the quality drops for a fraction of the time to compensate, thus not dring the viewers nuts with constant pausing. (Which is one reason things like Hulu and YouTube, etc are hard to watch after using Zune or Netflix that seamlessly keep the video playing. (Netflix if it keeps having to downsample, will pause and adjust for a split second, but this is because their implementation of Smooth Streaming is not the same as the original Microsoft.)

One other note, the bandwidth between 720p and 1080i and 1080p is not much different. 1080p is mastered at 24fps, not the nice 60fps that you assume you are getting because your BluRay device outputs it at 60fps.

Seriously.. who even downloads crap anymore.. Hello Apple.. let's get out of 2001 and into 2012 k?

evo_spook said,
What????

He probably wants to stream it using flash, since flash is the second coming of christ and streaming is the new downloading... or something similar.

He can elaborate for himself on what he means. I'd like to think this is an intellectual community, where we don't just say stuff without elaborating our thoughts.

Otherwise, it's just... I LIEK TURTLZ!

Boz said,
Seriously.. who even downloads crap anymore.. Hello Apple.. let's get out of 2001 and into 2012 k?

very true... streaming is best for casual viewers that wanna watch like once every few months.. why download and store it on some device when you can stream it to multliple devices anywhere..

bogd said,
Maybe it's my eyes, but 1080p video I download looks better than streamed 1080p.

In theory, ya it could if your internet connection sucks.

1080p streaming if done by Microsoft or Netflix uses a technology called Smooth Streaming. This lets the video start instantly, ramp up, and then hold to 1080p resolution (with a flexible bitrate).

However if your connection quality drops, instead of the YouTube/Hulu 'Buffering..." and paused video, it downsamples in realtime, thus not interrupting your show for a momentary glitch in your connection.

(Unless you have a good 12mbps or higher cable connection, mantaining 1080p without a lot of 'buffering.../pauses" is hard to do, even a 6mbps DSL connection won't fully hold the bandwidth needed for 1080p as there is little room for any drop.)

So if you do a 'download' of the 1080p content, it won't have the need for Smooth Streaming to keep the video playing, and will be as it was originally encoded. However, 99% of the time it will look the same, and most people won't notice or see the moments when it drops quality.

This is what makes Apple's approach a bit crazy and a bit late. They don't have the ability to do smooth streaming, so they will be offering 'downloads' it appears. Unless they use the Microsoft Server technologies to 'stream' the content, which is also possible, as Apple already uses Microsoft servers to offer Hulu and other non-native video content to iPad and iPhone users.

The other crazy thing, is Apple doesn't have any 1080p devices, except for a Mac running OS X, and even then most Macs don't ship with a 1080 screen. Apple TV only does 720p, even though the current CPU/GPU in the current version can already handle it, but Apple didn't implement 1080p in the hardware connections internally.

So what is Apple thinking, as their main market is going to be PC users, since 1080 displays are far more common, and PC users hate iTunes, as it runs like crap since it is a poorly hacked-up/ported piece of software that wasn't written for the inherent benefits or featurs Windows offers, like how Video is handled on Windows, etc.

Lachlan said,

very true... streaming is best for casual viewers that wanna watch like once every few months.. why download and store it on some device when you can stream it to multliple devices anywhere..

Some of us like some form of physical ownership of the content we purchase.

LordBattleBeard said,
Some of us like some form of physical ownership of the content we purchase.

Because we've been around long enough to see DRM companies/schema/servers go bust, leaving us with unplayable music, etc.

I won't let that happen for anything I purchase, ever again.

thenetavenger said,

The other crazy thing, is Apple doesn't have any 1080p devices...

MacRumors

The report's sources also point to rumors of an updated 1080p-capable Apple TV, which lines up nicely with increased 1080p support in iOS 5