Besides the new iPad, Apple recently announced a new Apple TV with support for 1080p content, which can now be downloaded from iTunes. This was a welcome upgrade from the 720p downloads it's been offering, but just how much of an improvement should we expect? And is the image quality boost worth it for ordering the new Apple TV? Ars Technica did a comparison and discovered that the 1080p was clearly better than the 720p and was nearly as good as Blu-ray.
The comparison was done using extreme close-up examination of the film 30 Days of Night with one version downloaded from iTunes and the other on a Blu-ray Disc. Text and color reproduction between the two formats were incredibly close and almost indistinguishable. Only when it came to certain bright areas did the iTunes version have a tendency to blow out some of the details. The iTunes version also had some issues with gradient banding.
Currently the best in home video image quality, Blu-ray is still the winner. Additionally, Blu-ray Discs can offer a number of special features as well as uncompressed multi-channel audio. But overall, the image quality of iTunes 1080p was impressively close to that of Blu-ray and it's only a fraction of the file size. Plus, it's easier to access and play through multiple devices. To see the close-up images side-by-side, be sure to check out the comparison.