During the Macworld expo keynote a week ago, Steve Jobs made the off-hand comment that Paramount Pictures had joined Disney in selling films through the iTunes Store. Of course, that deal means that all of the Star Trek motion pictures (except the Search for Spock) are now available for digital download, enabling portable viewing on a iPod or streaming to a new Apple TV.
Like all movie downloads from the store, the films cost $9.99 each, decent-enough price I you just have to have it now. For my money though, I’d much prefer the physical DVDs with all the special features and bonus materials. Still, if you don’t care about those things or already own the DVDs and don’t mind having your fair use rights sold back to you, downloading might just hit the spot. If not, I suggest you give Handbrake a shot.
Anyway, back to iTunes. At 640 pixels wide, the resolution of the pictures is adequate for most viewing situations. Compression artifacts are few, and motion is smooth and seamless. The sound was also acceptable, but I was using my PowerBook’s speakers.
Artifacting is usually very noticeable with red. Click to see this shot (PNG-24) from the First Contact trailer. It shows that the store’s compression holds up pretty well.