HEVC support in Apple-TV (Gen 4) app

apple-tv

#1

Hi,

Does the Plex app for 4th gen apple TV support direct play of HEVC/x265 encoded files? If not, is it planned and is it possible at all?

-iglo


#2

Not sure but does the ATV4 Hardware support HVEC/x265? I thought only H264 is supported...


#3

The AppleTV cannot natively play H265, however plex will transcode H265 files so they can still be played on the Apple TV. But as for direct play, nope. It's all up to Apple. In fact the AppleTV is probably the most handicap streaming box on the market as far as codec support goes.

But then, there is plex to the rescue :)

Personally I couldn't care less as long as Plex plays everything on my choice of hardware that's all I really care about.


#4

I can just transcode HEVC files on my NAS. But those are still low bitrate. That is the reason for my question. My TV have HEVC support though, so I think I have to switch over to some plex client on that device instead.


#5

When will people learn, Apple products almost never have the most current technology until the next device. They have a good business model on making money not to benefit the consumer. No 4k = no hevc (h265). That will be next year for the Apple TV. Meanwhile you can get a roku, new firetv or Nvidia Shield. You want the best streamer the Nvidia Shield has all the HD audio and 24 frame that the audio/video philes want (It will cost you however). I tried it but returned it because of the price. If they offered ability to sell it for lower price without any remote or provide an option to switch from the gaming remote to the streaming remote I would of kept it.
Also FYI, transcoding H265 KILLS CPUS. Even a haswell i7 will do about 3 streams of h265. By the time I had 4 streams it was 100% cpu constant and 5th stream killed Plex server process.


#6

The HEVC / h.265 issue is not just an Apple - go your own way thing. It is a HEVC Advanced licensing issue.

On the streaming side, HEVC also wants a flat 0.5% of any net profits per stream with no max cap. I am pretty sure that Apple is not excited to fork over 0.5% of their media sales revenue when they currently do not have to pay anything to stream h.264 encoded media. Since people consume Apple's current HD streams with h.264 encoding, Apple are not going to re-encode the SD and HD content just for the privilege of paying additional licensing fees. While 4k is growing, Apple does not feel a need to be an early adopter for all technologies. They are probably figuring out the best way to monetize 4k content, and that might be h.265, VP9, daala or possibly some proprietary "next gen" codec that they cook up themselves just to avoid licensing fees while claiming it is some superior tech.

On the hardware side, the A8 can natively decode h.265, but Apple while apple once had a codec for it for Facetime, they are no longer including a h.265 codec in their OS. The HEVC Advanced licensing terms are that once you enter into the agreement, licensing is retroactive to the first sale.

If Apple includes a h.265 codec and goes with a HEVC Advanced license, then they would have to pay anywhere from $1.10 to $1.975 per apple tv and $0.80 to $1.50 per iPhone retroactively. This fee is probably a large reason why though they once enabled H.265 for facetime on the iPhone 6 and 6+, it is now no longer advertised for them, or for the newer 6s or 6s+. Apple has no incentive include a HEVC codec right now and be liable for that cost unless/until they have a plan to utilize HEVC for their own services in a way that can recoup the potential licensing fees. Including a h.265 codec right now would be them paying a licensing fee for the de-coding codec to enable superior experience for their streaming rivals.

Apple makes great products (if you like to use them the way Apple designs them to be used) and while Apple's interests are often aligned with consumer interests, they are not the one and the same.


#7

@minbo said:
If Apple includes a h.265 codec and goes with a HEVC Advanced license, then they would have to pay anywhere from $1.10 to $1.975 per apple tv and $0.80 to $1.50 per iPhone retroactively.

Then why don't they just charge $2 extra for an Apple TV or iPhone? Extremely small fee from the customer's POV.


#8

would be nice if Plex did what infusion4 is doing! creating their own player


#9

The real issue is most people who encode HEVC ain't have any idea what they are doing, which makes average HEVC encodes no better if not worse than any h264 encodes.


#10

Interesting posts and I agree with most. I have a roku 3 and 4, nvidia shield and apple tv4. Streaming from a big synology NAS.
I am retired a love playing with these things...

As stated roku and shield have no problem with h265.
The apple tv runs my nuc i5 plex server at 100% and buffers to the point of "why bother"
And my Samsung tv works the i5 hard with same result as ATV
The plex interface on all are different and I have yet to decide my favourite as all have different ways of getting to your media.

I would like to make all my new media h265 but then that would exclude using the ATV4.
I currently convert all to h264 aac mp4 which pretty much gets them to play on everything.


#11

The new AppleTV hardware technically has h265 support. FaceTime on the iPhone 6 and newer uses h265. But Apple will have to flip the switch to allow that support, but from a hardware standpoint the capability is there.


#12

@critter13 said:
The new AppleTV hardware technically has h265 support. FaceTime on the iPhone 6 and newer uses h265. But Apple will have to flip the switch to allow that support, but from a hardware standpoint the capability is there.

just saw minbo's post re: the h265 capability


#13

Hate to resurrect a dead post, but after 5 years of 264, I just switched to 265 a couple weeks ago, and my ATV4 plays my 265 videos as "Direct Play", not transcoding. It appears that switch has been flipped.

I have to say it's pretty nice having file sizes 1/3 what they would be w/264, and at comparable quality.


#14

i will test it out! thank you!


#15

I experienced this issue with playing a h.265 video file via Plex, as it tried to transcode (my Plex server is running on a Synology box, so cannot keep up with a transcode).

But using VLC on the Apple TV 4, I can play the file just fine - seems the hardware is capable.

Will there be an update to the Plex app, to use Direct Play for h.265 as well?


#16

The ATV4 can't direct play h265. Apps like VLC use their own videoplayer which transcodes the videos using software. Plex uses the Apple "standard" player.


#17

@StPatty33 said:
Hate to resurrect a dead post, but after 5 years of 264, I just switched to 265 a couple weeks ago, and my ATV4 plays my 265 videos as "Direct Play", not transcoding. It appears that switch has been flipped.

I have to say it's pretty nice having file sizes 1/3 what they would be w/264, and at comparable quality.

I have to try this today! If it works, this will be go-to going forward.


#18

doesn't work with me. Anyone here have it working?


#19

@iglo said:

@StPatty33 said:
Hate to resurrect a dead post, but after 5 years of 264, I just switched to 265 a couple weeks ago, and my ATV4 plays my 265 videos as "Direct Play", not transcoding. It appears that switch has been flipped.

I have to say it's pretty nice having file sizes 1/3 what they would be w/264, and at comparable quality.

I have to try this today! If it works, this will be go-to going forward.

It´s impossible. ATV4 doesn't support x265


#20

For anyone who's still wondering about this, I can confirm that VLC will play an H265 file on the Apple TV, but Plex will transcode it. Specifically:
- If you try to play an H265 video using VLC over SMB, the video will play
- If you use Plex's DLNA server and connect VLC to it, the video will also play without transcoding
- It doesn't appear that there's any way to have Plex 'beam' video to VLC like it can to the Plex app
- If you use a different DLNA client (I used LocalCast) the video won't play
- If you try to play the video directly in Plex it will transcode. If your machine is powerful enough, that's fine. Otherwise, it will just buffer until you give up.

Kind of annoying for me because I'm in the process of transcoding my library to H265 to save space. The job is still in progress but so far the files are averaging half the size with a q-value of 27. I've tried watching the videos side-by-side and can't see the difference. I'm using the nvidia encoder via ffmpeg. I also bought the WD Passport Pro, which runs Plex, and WILL transcode, but it's only powerful enough transcode SD video from H265 to H264, throw 1080p content at it and it just won't play.

Really unfortunate, I love Plex's media browser, but it looks like when I'm on the road I'll be using plain DLNA.