Choppy video?

The other evening, I wanted to watch a movie. It so happens that I had a few movies on my iBook that I purchased from the iTunes store: Rocky and Rocky II. I settled down to watch Rocky (which I have seen several times before) and, much to my dismay, the video was choppy. No matter what I did with various settings, it remained choppy. There were moments of smoothness, followed by seemingly longer moments of choppiness. It was very frustrating. So I did what any geek would do, I did a google search for choppy video in iTunes. I came up with lots of hits, most of which were complaints about iTunes 7, none of which suggested practical solutions. (More memory, some suggested. No more memory, others insisted.)

Well, I had fooled around with just about every setting I could think of. I was attempting to watch the movie in bed and so I started to think about anything that I hadn’t tried yet. I was about 30 minutes into the movie, when I noticed that I had about 1 hour of battery life left. That made me curious. Could the problem be that the onboard video card was not getting enough power? So I plugged in my iBook and resume the movie and the choppiness went away.

In fact, after that I experimented. When the laptop was plugged into the AC, there was no choppiness in video playback, but when it was not plugged in, the choppiness was obvious. What I thought was strange about this was not the difference in power provided by battery versus AC, but the fact that this solution wasn’t reported on any of the searches that I did.

Can anyone (perhaps kevnyc) explain why I’d get smooth video with the iBook plugged into the AC and choppy video when it was not plugged in? I’m curious…

Published by Jamie Todd Rubin

Jamie Todd Rubin writes fiction and nonfiction for a variety of publications including Analog, Clarkesworld, The Daily Beast, 99U, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, InterGalactic Medicine Show, and several anthologies. He was featured in Lifehacker’s How I Work series. He has been blogging since 2005. By day, he manages software projects and occasionally writes code. He lives in Falls Church, Virginia with his wife and three children. Find him on Twitter at @jamietr.