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Why YouTube Needs to Offer Hi-Res Videos

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CNET has word from YouTube co-founder Steve Chen that the online video company is testing streaming videos at higher resolutions.

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Although YouTube’s goal, he said, is to make the site’s vast library of content available to everyone, and that requires a fairly low-bitrate stream, the service is testing a player that detects the speed of the viewer’s Net connection and serves up higher-quality video if they want it.

I find it interesting that YouTube would take this step, especially when you consider most of the videos currently uploaded are low-res and wouldn’t look any better anyway. So why is YouTube making the move to offer higher quality videos? The way I see it, services such as Joost and Hulu–while not direct competitors–will start to change our expectations of online video quality. The more high-res videos you watch online, the more you begin to find YouTube’s video quality to be unacceptable. Don’t believe me? How many of you have HDTVs? How many of you now think non-HD signals look like a YouTube video? I know I do.

Of course, the biggest hurdle is getting video creators to upload better quality videos to start with–you can’t polish a 320 x 240 turd–but that’s starting to happen as video camera video qualities improve and pricing comes down.

YouTube plans to bring high-res videos to your computer within 3 months. It might take 3 years before all video quality–and home broadband–catches up, but it’s a smart move to plant the seed now.

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