Originally Posted by benwaggoner
I think his point is that a mildly compressed 1080p can exceed a lossless 480p, which is quite true.
There's an optimal frame size range for any given combination of bitrate, content, and codec implementation where greater frame size starts losing more in increased artifacts for what it gains in resolution, and below which you lose more in reduced resolution than you gain in reduced artifacts.
If that's his point, I'd prefer he just come out and say it. Of course that is true. My point was that the experience is in the viewing and not in the specs. Downloads are not at Blu-ray quality right now. If we can just let that go, then we can discuss the value of downloads as an option.
As for the question of compression vs. resolution, I certainly prefer 480p DVD over much of the 1080i I have seen on cable and DirectTV over the years. Since Apple TV's quality at 720p to my eyes clearly exceeds much of what is on cable due to little to no visible artifacts, this is a case were less resolution delivers greater quality.
As I stated earlier, once quality reaches an acceptable level, it becomes only part of the equation as I consider entertainment choices. Variety of content, availability, and value also come in to play. Just because the download is not the best available quality does not mean it's not a viable option. It'll be interesting to see where we are in a year from now regarding quality and variety of downloads. As for me, I'm pleased with what Apple TV has added to my entertainment options.