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The new iPhone does 1080p. But what about Apple TV?

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One of the big upgrades in the new Apple iPhone 4S (s AAPL) is its camera: In addition to upgrading from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels for still photos, the newest iPhone can also record video in full 1080p HD quality. That’s a big boost over the current iPhone 4’s 720p camera, but the upgrade may not be apparent if users try to watch those videos on an Apple TV.

To be clear, being able to shoot in 1080p will be a big boon for video aficionados, and will make the mobile phone they carry in their pockets about as powerful as your average point-and-shoot digital camera. The iPhone has already established itself as a tool for video creation among a small group of videographers — award-winning filmmaker Park Chan-wook shot an entire 30-minute film on the device, for instance — and upgrading the video quality should only enhance the numbers that use it to shoot professional videos.

However, due to limitations on the Apple TV, users won’t be able to get the full experience when watching videos shot on the iPhone 4S. The $99 Apple TV box, which was introduced last fall, has the ability to wirelessly playback video from the iPhone and iPad using a technology called AirPlay that streams from the mobile device to the TV. However, while the latest iPhone 4S can shoot in 1080p, the Apple TV only supports up to 720p video.

Users might also have trouble uploading their 1080p video files directly to sites like YouTube, (s GOOG) which is not a new problem: The iPhone 4 boasted HD video shot on the device, but would upload downgraded files to the video sharing site. To get the full quality video on YouTube, users would either have to transfer their files to a computer and upload from there, or use any of a number of third-party apps which would upload HD video files to the site without compression.

7 Responses to “The new iPhone does 1080p. But what about Apple TV?”

  1. Ian Kemmish

    Now, if only Apple supported open standards, you’d be able to stream that 1080p video immediately to dozens of TVs from four or five manufacturers….

  2. trip1ex

    It’s just a matter of 1080p becoming more practical before you see it in the ATV.

    ATVs are hooked up in the living room to hdtvs. A large percentage of which don’t even do 1080p.

    Then from 8-10′ you’ll lose the ability to discern between 1080p and 720p on many standard screen sizes in the home.

    Plus there are wireless bandwidth concerns in the home. File sizes are much larger. And if the bit rate is the same does it matter if resolution is greater?

    And then there’s the $99 pricepoint and the size of the device plus it came out a year ago or so.

    If I get an IPhone 4S not sure I’ll be shooting 1080p. May dial it down to 720p if its an option and if that option means smaller file sizes, easily processing and editing times, better battery life etc.

  3. I think the reason they don’t support 1080p on the Apple TV is because their streaming network is not robust enough. I have a 50 Mbps cable internet service, and most times when we rent a movie on ATV, it takes a while (sometimes 10 minutes or more) to start streaming. With that kind of bandwidth, it should start instantly.

    Oh, you say, how do you know you have enough sustained bandwidth? Besides testing the connection regularly, we also use a Roku HD box (connected to the same GBE switch) with Netflix and Amazon, and never have any trouble streaming HD movies there. Even if those services only have 720p movies, we don’t have a problem. Only with movies rented from Apple and played on ATV.

    There really is no excuse for this kind of performance, other than ATV is just a hobby to Apple, and Apple has other more important things to spend its time on. But it is a huge disappointment.

    • Alexander Joyce

      Streaming audio and video from your device over AirPlay to ATV has nothing to do with internet connection speed.
      I’m on an 50mbps fibre connection at home and when I rent movies or purchase tv shows it never takes more than 10 seconds before it’s ready to watch.

      • Who said anything about using airplay or any device? I was talking renting videos from itunes, where it has a lot to do with internet connection speed, although as I mentioned, not in my case. I have a fast connection and HD videos from Apple take much longer to start streaming than HD videos from Amazon over a Roku box on the same network.

        If ATV supported 1080p, people would expect HD videos in 1080p, and they would be seriously disappointed with the performance. I don’t believe it is an ATV problem, but rather with Apple’s servers or the path it taks through the internet. I suspected that maybe my cable company was interfering with the streaming, but as I said, I don’t have any problem streaming HD videos on the Roku box.