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YouTube Goes Widescreen

Gordon Kelly


YouTube Goes Widescreen

When it's not misleading people about YouTube HD I'll admit to having something of a liking for the Web's biggest video sharing website (urgh, I feel dirty as if I just said I like 'Strictly Come Dancing' or know who John Sergeant is - thankfully I don't and refuse to look it up). So this is rather a pleasant and long overdue development: YouTube is embracing widescreen aspect ratios.

"Over the years we've heard a lot of feedback from you about what you'd like to change about YouTube, and the size of our video player is always top of mind," said the company on its official blog. "That's why today we're excited to announce a bigger YouTube player."

How big? Well, the blog bizarrely doesn't say only explaining that the width of YouTube pages has immediately been expanded to 960 pixels. Despite this a quick measure reveals 16:9 friendly 'Quarter High Definition' (QHD or 640 x 360 pixels) is the order of the day. A standard I now suspect we're all going to become familiar with very fast.

Surprisingly, YouTube didn't go into detail about what minimum or maximum resolution videos the new enlarged player may upload, though it did say existing 4:3 videos will happily work with it (rather obvious). That said, it didn't explain that existing 4:3 videos also now look rather rubbish as shown above (despite the excellent content being broadcast!).

Initial thoughts? Hmmmn, well new owners of all those 'instant' YouTube webcams and camcorders must be feeling pretty narked off...


YouTube Widescreen Blog Entry


November 25, 2008, 9:19 pm

As I understand it, YouTube can already display a maximum resolution of 720p for HD videos (1280x720), just not natively. It has to be forced by adding &fmt=22 at the end of the video url (the high quality link is just a slightly higher resolution than the standard). Of course, the original source material must be uploaded in the correct format, resolution and bit rate to be displayed in HD properly. There are a few examples of this, such as:



November 25, 2008, 9:21 pm

@smc8788 - thanks, good info :)


November 25, 2008, 10:53 pm

Great, soon I'll be able to watch Chocolate Rain, and The Dramatic Chipmunk in HD :)

Hopefully YouTube will have full programmes on soon, as I can see this being very useful for those with Media Center PCs, streaming full HD programmes to their TV.


November 25, 2008, 11:06 pm

what I don't understant is why couldn't they have it so that 4:3 stuff shows in a difference player size to 16:9, why does the player have to be the same for all videos? surely they can make the uploader check a @this video is widescreen@ button, or even analyse it on it's own.... very strange!

Geoff Richards

November 26, 2008, 3:54 am

Ah, where TrustedReviews Video Reviews lead, the world follows... we've been using this resolution for our videos for 3 months already :)


November 26, 2008, 4:49 am

@ smc8788 - oh shweet :D

now, if only my broadband were faster... sick of seeing loading ring all the time. renders full screen nicely, too.


November 26, 2008, 7:35 am

@Pbryanw - "Great, soon I'll be able to watch Chocolate Rain, and The Dramatic Chipmunk in HD"

Well, it's half the way to HD... 720p HD!


November 26, 2008, 10:47 am

True, only 720P, but it's good enough for me :) And it only seems a short while ago that I was watching postage stamp-sized 33.6kbps video in Realplayer (R.I.P. Realplayer).

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