In DivX Stage6's stead, Vimeo HD, launched in October 2007, has emerged as the foremost alternative. This service supports the streaming of HD video at 720p, or 1,280 x 720 pixels. The service operates at 24 frames per second, like film, although the primary reason for not using 30 frames per second is that some Flash Player platforms can't handle the data rate. You can upload up to 500MB of videos each week, but only one can be HD, unless you opt for the Plus service. For an annual $60, Plus increases the weekly limit to 2GB, and the number of HD uploads allowed becomes unlimited. Video quality is also improved by two-pass encoding. As a result, Vimeo is frequently the home of more ‘arty' streaming video, such as the footage shot with a Red One which we discussed last week in our look at the blurring line between camcorder and digital camera.
Vimeo may have been the first service to offer streaming HD, but it is far from the only one anymore. The enormously popular Dailymotion now has a section for HD videos streamed at 720p. If you sign up to become a ‘MotionMaker', you can upload videos up to 1GB in size and of any duration (regular users are limited to 150MB and 20 minutes, with a 320 x 240 resolution). These videos must be individually reviewed by Dailymotion staff, however, and validated as ‘Creative Content' before they will become available online. This takes the service away from the automated immediacy we have become used to with online video sharing.
Another service offering HD resolution is the aptly named HD Share. Again, resolution tops out at 720p, but the file size limit is a whopping 4GB with no duration restriction, so feature-length HD presentations are a possibility. But it's also one of the less popular sites, so you won't get anywhere near the level of anonymous passing viewers as you would with YouTube. Another site worth considering is the imeem social media service. It doesn't support HD video, but the only size limitation is how long it takes to upload, with a cut-off point at one hour. Streaming resolution is up to 768 x 576 (basically the same as regular European TV, but with square pixels). So the video quality is better than most streaming services, if not as good as the best currently available.