There is no question that YouTube is the king of online video. Nearly 40% of all videos viewed online are YouTube videos – that’s over 5.3 billion videos in October 2008 alone! We use YouTube to search for and watch everything from TV show clips to innovative commercials to the ever-popular Bear Falling Out of a Tree video.
Ever since YouTube’s inception, we have accepted that their videos are going to be low-resolution, pixelated, and often out of proportion within the video player. For example, when searching for one of my favorite Seinfeld moments, I got this:
It always seemed so bizarre to me that YouTube, the standard for online video, offered it’s videos at such a low quality. The size and resolution of these videos could be changed when you embedded them – if you knew how to alter the code – but that wasn’t much help to the millions of people who simply wanted to post a quality video on their blog, Facebook page, etc. Other sites offered higher quality videos for streaming, but none of them came close to the endless selection of content you would find on YouTube.
Lately, it seems as if YouTube has invested quite a bit of time and effort into improving the usability of their videos. Over the past couple of months, YouTube has introduced several great features for their videos that make the user experience much better than in the past. The first major upgrade they made was the ability to watch videos in a widescreen format. This is closer to the natural size of most videos uploaded to YouTube, which takes away the distortion that plagued the old format. More recently, YouTube added title and rating to all offsite videos to continue to increase the functionality of embeds.
A far more exciting development for YouTube users has been the integration of high-definition videos. With the widespread availability of broadband Internet connections, high-definition video can now be streamed across the Internet with little problem. One way to see HD YouTube videos is to visit the actual video page, click the “Watch in HD” option and witness a huge, crystal-clear, widescreen video. You also have the option of choosing high-definition when watching an embedded video. Simply click on HQ (high quality) in the bottom right corner of the video player. The video automatically converts to a beautiful high-definition version! YouTube high-definition videos look far better than the normal quality versions, and now give people a great, easy option for embedding high quality videos into their blogs, social network pages and sites.
These great new features have made it easier to view and embed great-looking, high quality YouTube videos. With YouTube continuing to dominate the online video world, they were far overdue in delivering these upgrades to their millions of users. The result is an excellent video player to view and share great videos with!