View Full Version : I watch 1080p on my Apple TV

January 15th, 2010, 07:31 PM
I continue to see people complaining that they can't watch anything higher than 720p on the Apple TVs. Its true that Apple has limited their software to only play 720p and lower resolutions. However, Boxee does not have this arbitrary restriction. A lot of files you probably have on hand are encoded with the h264 codec. Decoding h264 at 1080p is too much work for the Apple TV to handle. Try playing a file of that size with Boxee and you'll have jerky video and out of sync audio.
The trick is to re-encode your video as 1080p Xvid.
I do this using ffmpeg. Just recently this command was able to produce a video that Boxee had absolutely no trouble at all playing.

ffmpeg -i movie.mkv -vcodec libxvid -b 5000000 -mbd rd -flags +4mv+aic -trellis 2 -cmp 2 -subcmp 2 -g 300 -acodec ac3 -ab 320000 -ac 6 /tmp/movie.m4v

This produces an mpeg4 video encoded using the Xvid codec. Unfortunately the Handbrake team deemed it not worth their while to continue supporting Xvid. That's why I'm using ffmpeg.

So, go get ffmpeg if you don't already have it and start enjoying 1080p playback on your Apple TV. No need to buy a Broadcom Crystal HD.

January 18th, 2010, 12:41 PM
This is great, and thanks for the tip. My only quibble with this is it takes me back to a 2-step process to watch something. Either I've got to download the content and convert it, or rip the content and convert it. One reason I've loved boxee on my ATV is that I can watch just about any content (obviously not 1080 HD, and frankly even 720 sometimes causes the machine to play stuttered), without having to convert it.

January 18th, 2010, 02:01 PM
Yup, you are correct that it adds an extra step and more time. Even on my 2.8Ghz Quad Core Mac Pro it only converts at about 9fps. So I usually start it up and check it in the morning.
However, I have never seen any stuttering with 720p content. You might check the files that stutter and see if they have an abnormally high bitrate. I've been doing my 1080p Xvids at 5Mbps, but I don't think they really even need to be that high. If your bitrate is too high you can always transcode to a new 720p file with a lower bitrate. You probably won't be able to tell any quality difference and your Apple TV might play it more easily.

January 19th, 2010, 10:22 AM
Apple TV can decode 1080p h.264 files fine with the Broadcom HD decoder card installed, as can be seen in XMBC builds.

Here's the original post from XBMC (http://xbmc.org/davilla/2009/12/29/broadcom-crystal-hd-its-magic/) and a screenshot showing 26Mbit video playing:


Obviously, this is only currently running on XBMC and Boxee will have to implement support for the Broadcom card, but when it does you'll have no problems with 1080p h.264 content on an Apple TV.

January 19th, 2010, 10:58 AM
I'm using XBMC and a Crystal HD decoder in my ATV and love it. The nightly builds still have playback problems, but there is some real potential.

It won't be too long before Boxee includes the same code changes.

January 21st, 2010, 12:17 PM
The only problem I had with 1080p was that when the ATV went to sleep - it wouldn't ever wake up again without unplugging. :eek:

Set to 720, it does not do this.

January 21st, 2010, 04:21 PM
The only problem I had with 1080p was that when the ATV went to sleep - it wouldn't ever wake up again without unplugging. :eek:

Set to 720, it does not do this.

Is this under the Native UI? I was not aware that XBMC let you have a resolution greater than 720p. Apparently a known bug and one they are working on.

Although having said all that you can decode a 1080p movie with the CrystalHD and the ATV will downscale it to 720p before it outputs to your TV. Still, it looks absolutely amazing - better than 720p encoded content at any rate. I'm more than happy with the quality and it seems to cope with 1080p encodes better than it does 720p encodes in the latest couple of builds....

... it's definitely getting there!