03 Oct 2017, 09:09
Thanks for this excellent, detailed analysis with real measurements.
I think so far the ATV5 is the least bad UHD streamer, in large measure simply because of the iTunes price, quality and selection of UHD titles.
But they REALLY need to add an option for native output. It doesn't have to be the default. But for many of us it would greatly improve the quality of the experience.
Even after they get the mapping from rec709 to rec2020 and SDR to HDR correct, there are many many displays that won't show it correctly. You point out how power consumption greatly increases, which is no small thing.
But there are other problems. Even the cheapest TV's on the market can be calibrated to show SDR/709 content correctly. But even many expensive UHD TV's still lack the controls necessary to calibrate HDR/2020 accurately. And many of them make compromises like maxing out the backlight, the contrast setting and the color setting -- to try to get the most impressive torch mode experience -- when fed an HDR signal.
Should those TV's do better? Of course!
But we live in the real world. Most TV's won't do better for years, so even if Apple correctly maps SDR to HDR, the end user won't see the right stuff on most TV's. Instead, they will see inaccurate color, raised black levels, incorrect gamma, and experience greatly increased power consumption.
I understand why Apple has done it, and yes it's pretty clever and forward looking. But it's one of the main things that makes this device far from perfect.
The solution? In the settings menu, there should be a an "expert" mode that let's a user choose to output native signals. Heck, even my UHD blu ray player and my regular blu ray player before that, ten years ago!, would let me choose such an option.
For now, the workaround is to manually adjust the output for each content type. Now THAT is a seriously ugly solution, but it's the only thing that keeps me from returning my ATV5 to the store.
I sure hope they are going to allow native output at some point. It doesn't need to be the default. It could be hidden in a special super user sub menu. It could be caveated with lots of warnings. But it would solve the very real problems of assuming they are can map content correctly and that displays can display it correctly.