Apple now offers 1080P HD video rentals and purchases in iTunes, but if you want to enjoy all the High Definition pixels you need to ask for them.
The new update to iTunes 10.6 lets you turn on 1080P downloads by going into your settings and changing the preferences.
There are a two main reasons Apple is forcing users to opt in to 1080P HD downloads, and both have to do with the size of 1080P HD files.
If you are downloading 1080P HD video files from iTunes to play back on a device that can’t display 1080P, you’re taking up precious space for no reason. This is an issue if you plan to transfer to an iPad 2, or if you have limited storage space on your computer.
Secondly, if you have any type of bandwidth cap on your home connection or if you try to download these movies over 4G LTE, you’ll blast through it in no time.
The good news is that you can quickly change your preferences to always download 1080P from iTunes by opening up Settings.
- Click on Store.
- At the bottom, switch from 720P to 1080P.
From now on all of your downloads will be in 1080P, if available.
Thanks to good compression, Apple is able to keep these 1080P files to manageable sizes. Ars Technica took a look at various file sizes and found that going from 720P to 1080P resulted in a file size increase of 21-25%. This is because Apple uses better compression, to keep file sizes small without degrading quality.
In the sample above, you can see the difference between 720P and 1080P, which is more noticeable on some shows and movies than on others.