iTunes 1080p Video Is Almost (But Not Quite) As Good As Blu-Ray

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Which hideous, blood-sucking vampire looks best? iTunes (left) or Blu-Ray (right)?

What’s better: 1080p iTunes videos or Blu-Ray? Blu-Ray, without a doubt, but it’s actually not as big a gulf in quality as you might think.

Ars Technica decided to take the new 1080p iTunes videos and put them in a head-to-head against a Blu-Ray copy of 30 Days Of Night. The result?

I was surprised to see how close the iTunes 1080p download comes to Blu-ray, considering that it’s only a fraction of the file size. And let’s be honest: there are lots of Blu-ray titles that look much worse than this iTunes download. But despite an impressive effort by Apple, Blu-ray still reigns king when it comes to image quality. And unlike iTunes titles, BRDs can have uncompressed multi-channel audio, multiple audio language options, and special features. Am I being greedy in wanting both good-looking downloads for convenience, as well as buy-once-play-anywhere Blu-ray discs of my all-time favorite movies?

Here’s an obvious example of some of iTunes’s banding issues (top):

That’s about what I’d expect. Blu-Ray’s amazing, and on a good home theater system, nothing comes close right now in matching all around quality of every element. Audio is especially the element that streaming video skimps on, so an iTunes 1080p video’s not going to match quality there.

Still, streaming video’s all about convenience, about the good enough. And 1080p iTunes Video is way more than good enough, indeed.