iPod classic TV output quality
Ask iLounge offers readers the opportunity to get answers to their iPod-, iPhone-, iPad-, iTunes-, or Apple TV-related questions from a member of the iLounge editorial team. We'll answer several questions here each week, and of course, you can always get help with more immediate concerns from the iLounge Discussion Forums. Submit your questions for consideration using our Ask iLounge Submit Form. We reserve the right to edit questions for grammar, spelling, and length.
Q: I have a 160 GB iPod Classic. I have downloaded some movies on it and they look and sound great. I want to play these movies on my 61” HDTV, so I bought the Composite Video Cables from the Apple Store and I also bought the docking station so that I could use the remote control. I was able to get the movie to show on my TV but going from the small iPod screen to a 61” HDTV did not work well at all. The video was very pixelated. Is there anything that can be done to have the video play on my TV just as clear as it does on the iPod?
A: The output quality from the iPod to a television screen will generally be of a lower quality than the video viewed on the iPod itself simply because of the difference in screen size. Further, the maximum image size of a video stored on the iPod classic is 640x480, without anamorphic encoding. This resolution falls below what you might expect to see on an HDTV.
If a video is properly encoded on the iPod, however, it should not look any worse than an average standard-definition television broadcast station. If you are seeing quality significantly below this, you should check the quality of the source video itself, and the software that was used to encode the video and the settings that were used to do so. You can check the resolution of a video file from within iTunes simply by selecting the file and choosing File, Get Info from the iTunes menu. The “Summary” tab will show the resolution and bit-rate of the selected video:
Most videos purchased from the iTunes Store after September 2006 should be encoded with near-DVD quality settings, which will vary depending upon when you purchased the movie and how old it is. Most of Apple’s video content is encoded at a maximum of 640x480, which means that widescreen content is rendered at 640x352 or 640x272—lower than what your HDTV is capable of, but still reasonable enough for casual viewing and again roughly equivalent to an analog TV signal.
Most movies released since Apple announced movie rentals this past January are now being encoded anamorphically to provide a full 480-line presentation (resolutions of 640x480 being anamorphically stretched to 854x480—very close to DVD quality for all intents and purposes).
Note that any video content purchased from the iTunes Store prior to September 2006, however, will likely be encoded in 320x240, which was the original maximum resolution of the fifth-generation iPod prior to that time, and still matches the screen resolution of the current iPod classic models.
The quality of movies downloaded from other sources will vary widely, on the other hand. It is not uncommon to find movies from online file sharing services to be encoded in resolutions of 320x240 or even lower. These will look very poor when presented on a large television screen.
For movies that you encode/convert yourself, you can generally control the settings in the encoding software, assuming that the original source video is of sufficient resolution to begin with. Whenever possible, anamorphic 854x480 encoding at a minimum bit-rate of 1500 kbps should be used to produce acceptable TV output quality. Using higher settings on a lower-resolution source video, however, will not increase the quality of the original video.
Lastly, if you are using an HDTV, you may also find that using the Apple Component AV cables provides a better output quality. In the very least, this will allow the iPod classic to provide progressive 480p output. This tends to produce a smoother picture, and the use of component input seems to also provide better colour quality in our own testing and observations. Note that this will not likely help with “pixellated” video, however—such problems are generally the result of a poorly-encoded or low-resolution video rather than merely a distinction between composite and component inputs.
For more information on optimal resolutions supported by the iPod, see our Complete Guide to iPod, Apple TV and iPhone Video Formats. Our Complete Guide to iTunes Movie Rentals provides some additional information on the video formats and resolutions now available from the iTunes Store for both purchased and rented movies.
- Will removing a credit card from Safari also remove it from Apple Pay?
- Can I mute Handoff calls coming into my Mac from my iPhone?
- How do I keep my iPhone calls from ringing on my Mac?
- Why doesn’t Traffic show up on my Today Notifications Screen?
- Why doesn’t my iPhone reconnect to Wi-Fi after I turn it on?
- Why can’t I see the iPad-style landscape view on my iPhone 6 Plus?
- Apple recruits two Google Satellite Executives
- Nike unveils new Nike-exclusive ‘Apple Watch NikeLab’
- Prince single ‘Deliverance’ disappears from Apple Music
- Apple releases 2017 Environmental Responsibility Report
- Condé Nast Traveler reveals cover photo shot with iPhone 7 Plus
- Facebook integrating Apple Music into Messenger app
- China meeting with Apple to discuss concerns over live streaming apps
- New Prince single available on iTunes, Apple Music; EP available for pre-order
- Apple makes iWork apps, iMovie and GarageBand free to download
- iDevices Wall Outlet
- Koogeek Wi-Fi SmartSocket for Apple HomeKit
- Sony MDR-1000X Wireless Noise-Canceling Headphones
- FiiO i1 Lightning to 3.5mm Headphone Adapter
- Blue Ella Headphones
- Apple iPad (Fifth-Generation)
- AudioQuest NightOwl Carbon Headphones
- ExoLens PRO with Optics by ZEISS Wide-Angle Lens Kit
- Blue Sadie Headphones
- Circle with Disney Parental Control and Internet Filtering System
- Top Five: The Best Products for Building a Smart Home with HomeKit
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of watchOS 3
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of tvOS 10
- Instant Expert: Secrets & Features of iOS 10
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Photos gets Advanced Computer Vision
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Music app delivers ‘clarity and simplicity’
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 Maps gets a major redesign
- Inside the betas: iOS 10 shakes up the user experience
- Inside the betas: watchOS 3 promises a real speed boost
- Inside the betas: A sneak peek at what’s new in tvOS 10