Play 1080p videos on 2nd generation Apple TV

Oct 23, '12 07:30:00AM

Contributed by: nigelgoodman

Having searched the web, I could not find any reference to playing 1080p videos on the 2nd generation Apple TV (fully updated with the latest firmware). The Wikipedia entry, for example, states that it is 720p only. But my experiments show that 1080p movies can play just fine. The problem comes when downloading 1080p movies from the iTunes store. This hint shows how to quickly play such downloads.

Prior to purchasing a 1080p movie from the iTunes store I ran many experiments with self-created videos (Blu-Ray rips) to ensure that such HD files could be played.

So I completed my experiments by purchasing a 1080p movie (Vertigo to be exact). iTunes downloads two versions when making such purchases: the HD version and a SD one. Both are stored in the same iTunes folder and iTunes itself shows an HD:SD badge. The problem here is that the 2nd generation Apple TV only shows the SD version and therefore only plays the SD version.

To play the HD version, locate the files in the Finder, then delete the movie from iTunes, opting to keep the files. Then add back just the HD version and the 2nd generation Apple TV shows it as HD and plays as HD. There was a very small pause at the start of the film as I was watching, but I have a fast network, so the download to the Apple TV was soon a few minutes ahead of the play position.

I think I will actually go back to purchasing the 720p versions as my eyes are not quite what they were and I cannot really tell the difference. This was just an experiment to prove a point.

[kirkmc adds: I don't have a 2nd generation Apple TV to test this…

Update: It turns out that the Apple TV 2 can only output 720p, so it must be downscaling the 1080p videos. However, according to the poster, it is playing these videos, so you can have only 1080p videos in your iTunes library and play them through this device, apparently, instead of it defaulting to SD versions. But I still can't test this to see what's really going on.]

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