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DVD Movies on the 30" Cinema Display
© 2006 KenRockwell.com
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Apple Quad G5 and 30" display

Apple Power Mac G5 Quad and 30" Cinema HD Display
(image courtesy of Apple)

Get it here or here

INTRODUCTION

Drop a DVD into an Apple computer and playback starts. Macs all include Apple's free DVD player software. This software works very well, in fact, better than any advanced DVD player I've used. Computers have higher resolution than video.

I played commercial Hollywood DVDs into my 30" screen from my Quad G5 using Apple's included DVD player software.

PERFORMANCE

Apple's DVD Player software correctly decodes anamorphic widescreen DVDs. It fills the screen from left to right with perfect images. Circles stay perfect circles, and nothing is distorted as common with other players and systems. Most people don't notice these subtleties, however anamorphic abnormalities bug the crap out of me. Thank God Apple does it right. There often are mattes on top and bottom with scope films, called "letterboxing" and "2.35:1," respectively by hobbyists. This is the way disks are supposed to be seen. The size of the top and bottom mattes (letterboxing) varies with the actual aspect ratio of every disk.

Even better, Apple's software brilliantly deinterlaces and resamples the images automatically. This means the images look like film, motion looks like motion and diagonal lines look like smooth and sharp diagonal lines, not jaggy zig zags. Most TVs, including exotic HDTVs, do a crappy job of this compared to Apple's software. I've helped develop video and HDTV gear for a living since the 1980s so I especially appreciate this.

It works perfectly with Hollywood sourced anamorphic widescreen DVDs. With my own amateur home movies on DVD the DVD player software didn't fill my wide screen. The software mattes (letterboxes) the left and right for a standard 4:3 DVD. I'm still trying to figure out how to zoom playback for amateur DVDs, especially since I shot my home movies matted to 16:9. For all Hollywood widescreen movie DVDs I tried it worked perfectly, which is better than my wife's exotic Sony/Bose HDTV home theatre system. Ha!

Color follows my calibration, and looks perfect. It's very, very bright, too. Set the brightness to minimum to match Hollywood's 30 fL standard, or crank it up to three times as bright if you prefer.

It looks a lot better than plasma TVs. This is because the brightness is uniform and doesn't dim with white backgrounds as my in-laws' new 60" Panasonic does. The colors are exactly as I calibrated them. Blacks are smooth and black, not blocky. Whites are white, not blue.

The image is pure and clean and looks like it's supposed to. I know: I've worked in Hollywood and seen the telecine masters on $30,000 HD monitors.

The 30" Cinema Display, driven from my Mac with Apple's free DVD player software, doesn't have any of the jerk-around enhancement processing common in most TVs and HDTVs. Enhancement circuits usually destroy the image. These circuits are designed to make one set look sharper than the others on a sales floor, but look awful when you get them home.

HDTV Playback from Regular DVDs

If I hadn't already spent over ten years in Hollywood seeing real HDTV telecine masters all day I would, and you probably will think, that your movie DVDs are playing in high definition on this system. Of course they aren't, however if you haven't worked in telecine you'll think they are. It looks fantastic.

Of course one doesn't get full HDTV from today's (2006) DVDs. Since there's so much baloney out there (most HDTVs don't give HDTV either) and this system does many things better than $9,000 HDTVs I figured I'd give this an explanation.

For reference, today's $9,000 65" plasma HDTVs like this here only offer 1,368 x 768 pixel resolution.That's not even HDTV! Real HDTV is usually 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and the 30" Apple Cinema Display is 2,560 x 1,600 pixels. Not bad for $2,500!

The resolution of the Apple display is far greater than any HDTV source or DVD. Plasma TVs have a hard time and tend to get blocky if you sit too close.

The 30" display and Apple's software do a bang-up job of making the very best of every pixel on a DVD. You can see everything, which is better than many plasma and other big screens. Many HDTVs and big screens lose a lot of pixels in their obnoxious enhancement circuitry. The Apple system has more than enough pixels, thus dispenses with any enhancement which also degrades the images in other systems.

Apple's software does the same great job on a laptop. I used to plug my iBook into my 1,024 x 768 projector, which did a better job than using the projector's video inputs and a progressive scan DVD player. Most larger laptops today have higher resolution than any plasma HDTV.

SUMMARY

If you want to watch movies on your 30" display you'll be pleasantly surprised!

My computer isn't in my living room so we'll continue to watch my wife's Sony CRT HDTV, but if it died we'd miss little by having me haul this system downstairs.

Personally I prefer CRT (tube) HDTV displays over plasma, LCD and projection systems. We use CRTs in Hollywood for mastering because CRTs have the best color.

See more from me about Apple Computers

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