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Reader feedback on iTunes store movie downloads
(DVD burn info/limitations, Image/Audio quality, etc.)

Reports last Updated: 10/25/2006



This page has reader feedback on Movie downloads from the iTunes store. Here's a clip from the iTunes 7 help menu with some answers to frequently asked questions:

Will movies support surround sound?
Yes. Movies include audio which is encoded using Dolby Surround which delivers multichannel audio when played using Dolby Pro Logic systems.

Can I listen to the audio of a movie through AirTunes technology with an AirPort Express?
No.

Can I watch downloaded movies on TV? How?
Yes, by connecting your computer to your TV via audio and video cables. To connect audio, you simply get a Miniplug-to-RCA stereo audio cable and connect your headphone jack on your computer to the audio input on your TV or stereo (red for left and white for right audio channels). For video, if you have an S-video connection on your computer, you use an S-video cable to connect to the RCA jacks on your TV. If you have a VGA or DVI connection on your TV and your computer, you may be able to connect the display like a monitor. Check the TV and computer documentation for more information.
You can also display the movie on TV using the iPod and either the Apple iPod AV cable or the Universal Dock with an S-video and audio cable (see iPod: TV Out support for more information).

What are the usage rights with movies?
You can transfer to five computers, sync with all the iPods you own, and burn to DVD for data archiving purposes only (not for DVD playback).

How does that backup experience work with movies?
You can back up a movie with a DVD or hard drive. If you back up to a DVD, you can use the iTunes Backup feature, that will lead you through the backup process (choose File > Backup to Disc). To back up to an external hard drive, you simply drag the source movie files to the hard drive icon on your desktop or in My Computer.



Reader Feedback on iTunes Movies:
(I welcome other reader comments on iTunes Movies, let me know what you think of the image/audio quality, download times with your net connection, etc. Thanks.)

" Purchased Pirates this evening, download took about an hour. Quality both sound and video was outstanding. Not sure I'll use again as it is not that simple for the family to pile around the G5 in our office (even with 20" screen) versus the TV in our living room. Plus we have surround sound, etc. there.
-Melissa "


" iTunes 7 Movie purchase and Burn
Movie: Sacred Planet, 446.1 mb, 46.42 minutes playing time
iBook G4 1ghz w/ 1g RAM
OWC external DVD burner with old Pioneer DVR-106D
Comcast Cable Broadband

8:58 start download. Progress of download is under store with a progress wheel and number of d/l's to be completed
First half of movie d/l rapid, second half at a crawl Sucks up RAM and CPU big time on my machine 9:11 finished d/l, so 13 minutes to d/l a 46 minute movie isn't bad at all IMHO

Now, create playlist for movie and drag it to playlist
If external DVD go to Preferences and select Advanced and select your burner from the pop-up
9:17 start burn by pressing Burn Disc at the bottom right
Select any options in pop-ups if they appear to clarify burn
9:24 burn completed. Widescreen and gorgeous.
I'm one happy camper.

Info:
Protected MPEG-4 video file
.M4V
Stereo
Bit Rate: 128 kbps
Sample Rate: 44.100khz
Fair Play Version 2
Profile: Low complexity
-Matthew C. "

See notes from iTunes 7 help menu above for apple's notes on backup/burning to disc.


" A Data DVD is possible and simple. DVD video is a no go. The file is in an "unrecognizable format" for all PC and Mac software i tried. (he later wrote)
It was simply a data DVD - no VIDEO_TS folder or anything. Playback on a authorized computer with iTunes 7 works fine though (but so does copying the movie across the network to the computer) As far as i can tell, and as far as all Apple documentation says, DVD burning is for archival purposes only, playback on a set-top DVD player is not possible.
-Sandor F."


" Copy protection in the new ITMS movies is the same as the in current TV shows. So you can burn them to any disc for backup purposes, but you can not burn or transcode them to disc for playback directly in a DVD/DIVX player. Quicktime handles all the DRM and the files will play back directly from removable media so long as you are playing that disc through an authorized computer.
-Joe "


" Mike, I was curious enough to spend $12 and purchased a movie last night. The movie (The Greatest Game) was bout 2:00 hours long and took slightly more than 30 minutes to download on a cable modem without about 800K/sec throughput. Not bad. The movie was playable on my G5 immediately after the download began, since the content was streaming in at a rate faster than real time. Very convenient.

The quality of the movie was much better than the quality of some TV shows I've downloaded. It's obvious that Apple has increased the resolution, as the default size of the player window is at least double the size of the widescreen TV shows I've purchased. I assume iTunes must down convert the image to the lower resolution when it's moved to the iPod? Anyway, it was very clear and mostly free of artifacts on my 20" flat panel monitor running at 1600 x 1200.

I will transfer the movie to my Powerbook tonight and plug it into my TV to test the quality for family room viewing. Since the computer monitor quality was so close to true DVD, I'm assuming that it will look completely normal on the TV. I'll let you know.

The only downside to purchasing movies from iTunes (vs Walmart) - other than the obvious fact that you can't put burn it to a disc (I assumed you couldn't but didn't see anything at apple about this. Matthew said he was told it could be burned to DVD which surprised me. See his report above.-Mike) - is that you lose a convenient way to hear Dolby Digital surround. I believe the downloaded movies include 5.1 surround, but you have to have an optical audio output on your computer and a receiver with optical audio input (and they have to be close enough to one another to make it work, etc.). Not nearly as convenient as popping a DVD into player and sitting on the couch. I guess the new media device will address that issue as well. If so, then iTunes movies could easily become my preferred way to get new release hassle-free and quick.
-Steve "


" Hey Mike, I actually downloaded the same movie as TUAW (Hitchhikers Guide) as my test movie. Downloaded in 2.5 hours on a 1.5 mbps connection yesterday - i was amazed, as i figured Apple's servers would be swamped.

As far as the movie, it played back fine on my 867 G4, no dropped frames, even with mail and safari open. The 1589.59 kbit/s datarate video looks decent (though less than DVD quality) on my 22 inch crt.- but i want to get ahold of the actual DVD to do a true comparison. resolution is 640x272, audio appears to be only stereo, a bit disappointing. i need to try it at home on my 720p HD tv though, see how it looks, and see if any Apple application will output surround sound from the file.
(a reader asked about widescreen/resolution, are the Widescreen movies just 4/3 (640x480 with black bars)? You mentioned 640x272.) No black bars. With regards to 640x480, i think Apple just meant that as max resolution, with the aspect ratio changing the actual resolution. So if a movie isn't 4:3, then the width will always be 640, but the height will be less, dependent on the aspect ratio. This is exactly like current DVD's (widescreen) except they have a maximum width of approximately 720, but variable height dependent on the aspect ratio.

The .m4v video file opens fine in Quicktime (outside of iTunes) and i have had no problem copying from machine to machine, and it plays in all authorized machines without a hitch. VLC lists the video CODEC as unsupported DRM, and simply displays a title shot with the name of the movie.

All told a good experience, and Apple has blazing servers. It's too bad the copyright owners are tying the hands of the retailers so much as to not allow burning even one copy. Apple's compromise with video size v. download times seems good. and iTunes now has a built in download manager to pause/resumes downloads.

I'm impressed, but probably won't use it again until there is HD content. Netflix is far nicer for my usage (i rarely watch a movie a second time)
With regards,
-Sandor F. "

I welcome other reader comments on iTunes Movies, let me know what you think of the image/audio quality, download times with your net connection, etc. Thanks.
(Tauw.com has a page with First impressions: buying a movie from the iTunes Store but not a lot of info there as of this morning.)





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