As I'm sure you've noticed, it's an exciting time for the large screen (a.k.a.: TV) market. Screens are not only getting cheaper, but they are getting better (higher resolution, crisper colors, better color saturation, etc). I was in Costco the other day and saw a 65" LED TV for $1,800. That's amazing!
Just because you have a larger screen, however, doesn't mean that the image will magically look better. In fact, having a larger display can mean the opposite. How so? If I have a movie that is designed for a smaller/standard definition screen, it will look pixelated (choppy) on a larger/high definition screen. Here's an easy way to prevent that.
When you purchase video content from iTunes, you have the option of downloading that video in either standard definition or high definition (with a slight cost premium associated with high definition downloads). Just because you're buying the high definition version, doesn't mean you are getting the highest definition version of the title.
Technically, high definition video is anything from 720p (720 vertical pixels) and up. So when you purchase a "high definition" video, it could be 720p or 1080p (1080 vertical pixels).
The next time you make a video purchase in iTunes, look very closely at the title details. Specifically, at the section that shows you the resolution.
In the above screenshot, I will be paying for the "high definition" version of this particular movie. However, iTunes will only download the 720p version of the movie (as shown in the details).
To download the 1080p version of the title, we need to make one simple change in our iTunes settings. To do this, go to iTunes > Preferences... (or press Cmd + comma), then click on the "Store" tab. You'll notice a setting for default download quality. The default setting is 720p.
When you change this to 1080p, it will take affect for all future video downloads made through iTunes (in other words, you only have to make this change one time). If you have previously made a video purchase and want the 1080p version of that title, you will need to re-download the video after making this change. Don't worry, it's a free download (since you have already paid for it once.
Now that I have made the change in Settings, I see that my video will download in the higher-resolution high definition (1080p).
Most people see a noticeable difference when playing a 1080p video on their large-screen TV when compared to a 720p version. Remember, you're paying for the higher-resoltution... why not take advantage of it!?