Apple, the Mac and Blu-Ray

Now that HD-DVD has officially lost the HD format battle, and Blu-Ray has emerged the victor, many Mac sites are speculating that Apple will soon implement Blu-Ray playback support into its system and start selling Blu-Ray drives in its computers.

I’m not sure Apple will implement Blu-ray playback into OS X any time soon.

One thing most people don’t know is the requirements to get the license to playback HD stuff on computers. The rules require that the playback device makes sure that the chain from the computer’s DVD drive, to the RAM, to buffers, to the graphics card, to the cable, to the display are all encrypted. That is all in order to close the ‘Analogue Hole’.

Did you know that Vista checks for chain encryption integrity for every frame when it’s playing HD contents? That’s 30 times every second (talk about paranoia). Try to buy a Vista system that can play HD stuff and see what onerous requirements you’ll find. You’ll have to buy specific graphics cards, specific monitors etc…

For Apple to implement Blu-Ray playback it has to do a lot of work to be compliant; and the requirements would put quite a burden on the system. I believe that’s the reason that currently, with iTunes rental service one can get HD rentals on the AppleTV only and not on one’s Mac. The AppleTV is a closed unit with an HDMI connection, meeting the stringent requirements for HD playback. Many people don’t expect this, but if you connect the AppleTV to your HD TV using the component video connectors instead of HDMI, the AppleTV won’t display rented HD contents in HD, you’ll get an SD version of the rented movie.

I’m not sure I want Apple to implement that kind of crap into the system that I use every day, in order to do something that I couldn’t care less about.

I mean really, does it make any difference if the stuff is true HD on a computer screen considering that the largest one currently is is 30″?

I would guess that Apple would implement Blu-Ray as a storage device on the Mac in order to take advantage of the huge capacity that it provides, and would leave HD playback to downloads and the AppleTV.

7 thoughts on “Apple, the Mac and Blu-Ray

  1. I strongly disagree. I very much want Blu-ray playback on my Mac, but there’s currently no (legal) way to play HD on the Mac, despite the drives. 30″ is plenty large enough if your not sitting across the room since it is >HD in resolution. Moreover, I don’t want to be dependent on downloading some giant file for hours, using up my bandwidth, to get a video that is still much lower quality than Blu-ray (due to compression), and then be dependent on playing it on a device that doesn’t even support DivX! No, getting Blu-ray discs is a heck of a lot cheaper, easier, and higher quality for most of us. While implementing Blu-ray playback may indeed be a pain for Apple and may be computationally demanding, it’s not as if it will effect your everyday system performance in anyway when your not currently playing Blu-ray. No, I think Apple is just getting greedy about iTunes again, which will ultimate result in the AppleTV flopping again. The iPod only succeeded because it used open standards (mp3) and iTunes allowed ripping from the physical media (CDs), not because of downloading. If they want AppleTV to succeed, they need to use open standards again (DivX) and allow at least playing from the physical media (Blu-ray). Otherwise, people will buy the many Blu-ray-DivX combo devices.

  2. DivX is not a standard. MPG4 (h264) used by the AppleTV and distributed by iTunes is an open standard. Open as in anybody can license it and implement it, just like MP3.

    In order for Apple to implement Blu-ray playback on the Mac, they need to license and implement all the technology required by the Blu-ray format and they can only do it under the strict rules that those licenses attempt to enforce.

    For example, in order to playback all blu-ray disks, Apple will have to license and implement the VC1 codec, which is basically Windows Media 9. If I were Apple, I would be very hesitant to do such a thing.

    You think that having blu-ray playback won’t affect anything on your system if you’re not playing back a blu-ray disk? I guess you didn’t know that in order to get the license, Apple is required to try to make sure that no software that can read the blu-ray disc and maybe rip it into a file (like handbrake) can run. So Mac OS X would need to play the role of the enforcer, even when Apple’s DVD player software is not active.

    For a Mac to be allowed to play blu-ray disc in full resolution, All the hardware needs to be certified by the blu-ray consortium, so you won’t be able to play it on the current crop of Apple monitors, especially the 30″ one. That monitor does not support encrypted signal.

    Only the laptops and the iMac would possibly be able to play it because they’re closed systems. Not the Mac Mini, and not the Mac Pro.

    If you were Apple, would you take on something that you can’t easily explain to your customers?

    Picture this scenario: Apple announces Blu-ray playback capability in Mac OS X. A regular Joe has a Mac Mini hooked up to a 30″ monitors. He goes out and gets an external Blu-ray player. He hooks it up and goes to play his blu-ray disc but gets a crappy picture (because Mac OS X would have to degrade his picture to standard resolution for lack of a fully encrypted chain). What do you think his reaction would be? Would he blame the people behind blu-ray for their stupid rules or would he blame Apple and thinks that the Mac sucks for this reason?

    If you were Apple, would you put yourself in this position?

    You are free to have your own opinion. And you can hope to get blu-ray on your system. I was only explaining why it may not happen anytime soon.

  3. Thank you for this detailed explanation of a complex subject but I am still disappointed that my media center may never be completed although I have the hardware.

    Seems like another closed standard and similar aggressive marketing strategies to Microsoft. Sony are one of the companies that secretly put software on music cd’s in the late 90’s that installed software on your Mac and Pc without your permission. Subsequently hackers used this software to gain access to machines.

    Then the record studios just resorted in sending nasty letters from lawyers. The Hollywood studios have made this decision to go Blue Ray and maybe it will balance the dominance that Apple have in the music industry today.

    But it may come back to bite them in the bum but not before Sony sell a @#%$ load of PS3’s.

  4. I have a lot of questions here. Do you think that the Blu-Ray Consortium will lower its standards any time soon? At all? If they never do, will Microsoft jump on board with the ridiculous standards? They really can’t because they don’t control all of the hardware that Windows runs on, but will they try? I don’t know about you, and I know that you don’t have ANY control over this nor am I blaming you, but this really irritates me that Sony would do this. Thanks for any opinions.

  5. Microsoft has already jumped on board. They are the ones selling their OS to computer makes who make the computers that already play back Blu-Ray formatted DVD’s.

  6. Look,
    There have always been attempts to create “closed chain” hardware encryption systems, but almost as soon as they are out, somebody finds a way to remove the restrictions. As for sony, they are making claims that their blu-ray discs are compatible for playback on blu-ray devices. That is false advertising. You cannot call a device a “Blu-Ray player” unless it simply plays the disc. It should be called a “Reader”, not a “Player”. The terms are different. Sony is now legally liable for any burners that were sold at this contention that now do not actually “play” the discs. If enough people were to come forward and argue the point, the licensing would open up, and there would be utilities that could at least play, or even rip the data for use as video streams for personal viewing. These discs take forever to fill, and hold massive amounts of data, which is currently inaccessible to people who are left unaware that apple cannot play the discs. There is no information listed openly, and compatibility is listed on the driver pages. So where is the functionality? I say, sue the idiots. If you bought a burner and were led to believe you could play the discs, you need to go back to where you got the device and demand a refund. Do not take store credit. Get a refund. If they do not give it to you, send some emails to media sites with news programs. Let them know that many people are being defrauded by a retailer. When the retailer gets pissed at sony, especially if it’s a chain, sony will take a hit for it, and either address the problem or remove the products. Either way, the problem could be addressed. Don’t take that kind of stuff from anybody, Mac users. It’s our right to be treated as equals in the computing world. We don’t ask special treatment, only fair, and equal treatment, along with the freedom to utilize superior computing power and superior programing. Don’t be daunted. Use the voice your mac gave you the instant you first started it up! You set the tone! You be the good Apple! If they give you any lip, slap em with a lawsuit. Welcome to the 21st century.
    That’s about all I got… …eh… …didn’t think I’d write so much. Oh what the heck…
    POWER TO THE USERS!

    Don’t like it? BYTE ME.

Comments are closed.