YouTube offers videos in HD

Google's popular video site YouTube yesterday unveiled a dedicated HD section for US users to watch videos in 720p high definition.

When a video's source upload supports higher resolution, YouTube will have a "watch it in HD" button below the player's lower right hand corner in the space where some videos had the "watch it in high quality" button. Clicking this button expands the standard viewing window to 16 x 9 with a 1280 x 720 resolution.

YouTube recommends that users who wish to have their content available in HD pay close attention to the file's aspect ratio. The new widescreen player will automatically add "pillarbox" bars to 4:3 videos, so if a video was already letterboxed to fit the 4:3 window, it will be doubly resized, and will create a "bad viewing experience."

Resolution of 720p is quickly becoming standard among web video sites. Last year, Vimeo made its mark as the HD equivalent of YouTube, attracting filmmakers and artists. The introduction of HD on YouTube has already caused debates between Vimeo users about which is better. Professional content syndication sites such as Hulu already offer HD as an option, and Netflix and Amazon video on-demand services will soon offer high definition through the browser as well.

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