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YouTube Adds Support for 4K Videos

Gordon Kelly


You won't have a monitor large enough to properly watch them, nor the recording equipment to capture them, nor the broadband connection speed to stream them, but reality be damned - YouTube has announced it will support video of up to 4096 x 3072 pixel resolutions!

In an official blog post, YouTube engineer Ramesh Sarukkai explained this madness saying:

"We always want videos on YouTube to be available in the highest quality possible, as creators intend. In December of last year, we announced support for 1080p, or full HD. At 4096 x 2304 pixels, 4K is over four times the size of 1080p... We're excited about this latest step in the evolution of online video. We've been impressed by the 1080p videos you've uploaded over the last seven months and can't wait to see (in 4K!) what you do next."

Thankfully Sarukkai does acknowledge: "video cameras that shoot in 4K aren’t cheap, and projectors that show videos in 4K are typically the size of a small refrigerator {while} watching these videos on YouTube will require super-fast broadband."

Why is YouTube doing this? It's not really anything more than a) a little bit of future proofing, b) showing off, and c) wanting to be the first streaming service to offer this - which is closely tied to point b). If you have the hardware to watch 4K videos pixel to pixel let us know how you find them. The fact we don't have that capability in the TR offices probably says everything...

Side rant: I've always hated the term 'Full HD' after all, what are we going to call 4K video when it takes off down the line: 'Really Full HD'? 'Full HD 2'? 'Fullest HD?'


YouTube Blog Post

4K Video Playlist


July 12, 2010, 4:14 am

Just wondering, how many pixels of resolution can the eye resolve, Will there be a natural end to this pixel escalation, or will there be a new HD standard every couple of years? I'm looking forward to enjoying Super Super High Full HD when I'm an old man.


July 12, 2010, 5:22 am

Not only do I share your hatred of "Full HD" I even detest the phrase "High Definition" when it's barely "Higher Definition" and more like "A Slightly Higher Definition" compared to SD TV.

I suspect soon the marketing teams will resort to "Super Definition" paving the way to "Supra".

I'm glad You Tube have done this though, perhaps in thirty or so years it will be known as "Old Bog Standard in 2D".


July 12, 2010, 1:34 pm

The first thing that jumps to mind is that Youtube is attempting to prove it is a viable delivery medium for the next generation HD format long before anyone could attempt to get a system running around Blu-ray.

By the time this resolution becomes viable for home use the average home PC should have no trouble playing this video and that means we are freed from the need to buy another box to go under the TV, or indeed next to the projector.

If Youtube could provide some kind of secure downloading software that would allow the user to cache content on their PC before playing it would be perfect. Now I just need to start saving for that three chip 4K projector and a fifteen foot screen...


July 12, 2010, 1:58 pm

I bet ISP's love this news. It means people will want to use the bandwidth they pay for but isn't provided.


July 12, 2010, 2:13 pm

@Pbryanw - according to my dad, who studied optics at some stage, the eye has a different resolution at different parts, for example the centre of your vision has far more light sensors than your periphery vision. Because of this, I don't see how the resolution could be measured in the traditional sense.

Obviously anyone who has a better answer please correct me

Geoff Richards

July 12, 2010, 2:42 pm

@Pbryanw - 4K is the next jump from 1080p. So far, it's useful for two things:

1) Sharper images on LARGE screens. For example, the 1080p on my new 32" is roughly 69 PPI. However, the same resolution on a 50" drops to 44 PPI and if I pushed the boat out to a 70" then we're talking under 32 PPI. But 4K at the same size is 73 PPI :)

2) I read last week that Sony has already rolled out 4K digital projectors in some cinemas. This allows them to show "full resolution" to each eye simultaneously rather than alternate, reducing flicker and eye strain.

Quite why we need 4K on PC monitors for YouTube is beyond me, but I'm pleased nonetheless to see them support higher quality. :)


July 12, 2010, 4:10 pm

YouTube was mostly unusable over the weekend for me. I was having issue with the buffering of standard videos! I'm not sure if it was a YouTube issue or a problem with my awful ISP, Virgin....

Denis iii

July 12, 2010, 4:28 pm

How long untill youtube add's new feature that makes Youtube usable and gets rid of the stupid 10min limit


July 12, 2010, 5:36 pm


The human eye can see every photon of light - what the individual brain can process, or decides to process as relevant/necessary is another matter.

Some brains can process much more than others, which is why and how you get some people with very good reflexes - like Johnathan Wendel, the professional gamer; who apparently has a reaction time of sub 10 miliseconds.


July 12, 2010, 5:50 pm

AlexMck: Your Dad is sort of right, the resolution of the human eye is highest at a small area near the centre of the Retina called the Fovea. This is the section we use to see detail with, which covers a proportionally small "central" area of our field of view. It usually covers the area of each word you're reading in this sentence so that's what would be used to judge resolution.


July 12, 2010, 6:29 pm

I'd rather youtube sorted out the compression on their audio than adding higher and higher resolution videos. I'd rather have a good quality sd feed with flac or similar style audio, than 4 bazillion pixels and audio that sounds like it's being played from a dictaphone.

On the HD argument my surround sound system made movies far more submersive and enjoyable than my blu-ray player imo.


July 12, 2010, 9:53 pm

@Steve: youtube was fine for me over the weekend, also on virginmedia.

as for the 4K I can stream it but it is jumpy but perfectly watchable on my laptop and it is slightly more watchable if you let it load fully then watch it.


July 13, 2010, 5:12 am

Thanks for the information everyone. So, 4K video probably isn't aimed at the general consumer. It's for cinemas now, and maybe when it filters down, for projectors and very large TVs (that makes sense). And I take it, we're a long way from saturating the eye's resolving power, so there will be many more HD standards after 4K?


July 13, 2010, 3:27 pm

@Wedge: Yes, I wish YouTube would just introduce a movie streaming service already (for the UK).

@Denis_iii: I've seen videos over 10mins before. I'm under the impression it's a "paid-for" account but haven't looked it up. I imagine part of the reason the limit is still there is to discourage even more full movie/TV uploads.

@Everyone talking about the eye's resolution: Surely we could just ask Steve Jobs? He seems to know a lot about it...

And my vote for future HD format buzzword: "OrgasmicHD - Come & See".


July 15, 2010, 9:23 pm

Surely the marketing tag would, infact be "See and Come"!!

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