Originally Posted by Hagfish
I get the fact that they don't really care about folks like me who want to use it more for local home streaming than renting (paying) for content on itunes, etc.. I just don't like it.. That said, still glad to have it as the wife has already learned to control it with her iphone pretty easily.. I just hate having to encode vids twice..
I'm sort of in the same boat, but I knew what I was getting myself into and decided to do it anyway. I'm not so much interested in creating two separate files, and am fine having only one 720p file, but the process of downconverting a 1080p uncompressed Blu-ray rip is time-consuming. Right now, I'm still in the experimental phase of figuring out what the ideal Handbrake RF setting is. This is another complication because I believe there's no *one* answer, and it really depends on the source material. I believe that if you're using a high quality Blu-ray source, and the movie is a cartoon or all-CGI affair, then you can use a much higher (higher compression) RF value, but if you're encoding a live-action movie (and to add another wrinkle, an older or DVD source), then you need to use a lower (lower compression) RF value in order to reduce downconversion artifacts. IOW, garbage in, garbage out. So if you're working with "garbage", you need to use a better quality setting (and end up with a larger filesize), in order to make it look any worse than it already was.
The rather large conversion times are one thing, but needing to spend too much time thinking about what the optimal settings might need to be, is an even bigger issue, IMO. Then there are the issues of DTS and subtitles. DTS, thankfully, may now be solved with recent nightly builds of Handbrake. Up until just a couple of weeks ago, you would have needed to use another interim tool to convert DTS to AC3, prior to downconverting the movie with Handbrake. Fortunately, that functionality has just (very) recently been added to Handbrake.
Subtitles are another headache. With Blu-ray discs, the subtitles are stored using a newer format, but Handbrake can't yet deal with those. So you need to use an interim chain of tools to rip the subtitle data, then convert it to something Handbrake *can* deal with, then mux that data back into the source file (e.g., .mkv), which you'll then use as the "source" file for Handbrake.
This is all such a horrible pain in the butt. But I'm endeavoring to go through all of that, because I like everything else that the Apple TV brings to the table. I can live without 1080p and lossless audio, but the added manual hand-holding, and significant time increase for ripping/converting a movie, is the bigger pain.
Hopefully once AirPlay is released and they start advertising the Apple TV via TV commercials, they'll sell millions of them, and then they'll use their leverage to get day-and-date movie releases, and offer $2/night movie rentals. Then maybe I'll give up on converting my movies altogether and just go all-rental.
Closing out my rant...I will say that the Handbrake dev team is apparently working on getting Blu-ray subtitle support built-in (it won't be ready this year, so they say), so in 6 months or so it will probably all be less of a headache. And I'll probably upgrade my "ripping/downconverting" computer to something more capable, which can "process" a Blu-ray disc in under 3 hours.
I know that pcmd has commented previously that my situation is essentially abnormal and that if you're looking to do what I'm looking to do, there are better devices out there. But I also look at it from the perspective that you're going to pay the price somewhere. I could buy full-blown HTPC's that can play back 1080p Blu-ray rips wth lossless audio, but I'd need four of them (for multiple rooms in my house), so the cost would be prohibitive, and they probably wouldn't be as reliable or wife-friendly as the Apple TV.
With my approach, I have to suffer more up-front in terms of perhaps buying a single powerful PC to rip/downconvert the movies as fast as possible (and it will still be slower than if I was just ripping as-is to an .mkv with no compression and lossless audio intact), and I'll lose PQ and AQ with my approach, but the end result will also be files which are much, much smaller (so I can fit more of them on my hard drive, can easily transport them, can play them on an iPhone, can stream them over the Apple TV's built-in 802.11n without worrying about pauses or stuttering, etc.), and frankly I don't think I'll miss the added resolution or lossless audio. And this is coming from someone with a projector paired with a 92" diagonal screen. I've been around a while. Long enough to be part of the AVS community that owned a huge CRT front projector, paired with a 480p or worse source (e.g., laserdisc). And there were people who would use VHS (or at least S-VHS), which was of even worse PQ. And we still loved it. IMO, being immersed in a very large projected image trumps resolution, at least when coupled with a *decent* movie.
OK, I've rambled on long enough.