It's been less than a year since YouTube gave the thumbs up to 1080p HD, but they seem determined to never fall behind again. On Friday at the VidCon 2010 conference the streaming video site revealed support for 4K video streams, a resolution that is more than four times the size of 1080p. To put this in perspective they claim the most ideal display for a native 4K video would be a screen measuring more than 25 feet across.
Many agencies reporting on this story have criticized the announcement as little more than posturing given that consumer adoption of 4K is still many years out, but you won't hear any complaints from us. After all, many of us are rocking 30" displays that have far too many spare pixels when watching 1080p anyway.
A sample video collection has been posted to the site for you to checkout, but make sure you come prepared. According to the YouTube blog you'll need a "super-fast broadband" connection, and half way decent hardware to enjoy the sample clips. My initial tests showed satisfactory performance with a 10Mbps cable connection, but it was nearly impossible to detect the difference on a 1920x1200 24" panel between 4K and 1080p.
Now that YouTube offers resolutions far an above everyone's native displays, maybe they could work on improving the bit rate. After all, 4K video is great, but not when it's riddled with compression artifacts. Hit the jump to try one of the clips out for yourself.
Many felt some disappointment in learning that Hulu's $10 a month premium service would still show ads to users. Those individuals may have reason for hope today as Hulu's CEO, Jason Kilar, has said that an ad-free version of the service is a possibility. While nothing is official, Kilar seemed sympathetic to customer concerns.
Hulu is offering an increased selection of video, and access from other devices to justify the $10 fee. Kilar pointed out to NewTeeVee that there are many business models for online video distribution. It did seem clear, however, that any ad-free Hulu would cost more than the current $10 subscription. So we have to wonder, would you pay more to ditch the ads? We're a little skeptical many people would go for it.
On the PC side, users have been able to enjoy support for Blu-Ray movie playback for quite awhile now. However, Apple has been reluctant to add in similar capabilities on the OSX side of things. A user recently emailed Steve Jobs, and as he tends to do these days, he sent out a curt response predicting the death of the format.
The question centered around the new Mac Mini, and how it sure would be cool if it had a Blu-Ray drive. Jobs responded saying that, "Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD - like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats." In a later response, Jobs also claimed that streaming 720p content would win most people over.
It seems extremely likely that physical media will fade into the background at some point, but this may not be the time. With ISPs instituting bandwidth caps, streaming HD video could be more risky as the quality improves. Apple's iTunes store has sway over the content delivery arena, but can Apple really kill Blu-Ray by sheer force of will?
“It's important to understand what a site like YouTube needs from the browser in order to provide a good experience for viewers as well as content creators. We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does - there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video,” YouTube programmer John Harding wrote on the YouTube API blog.
Harding cited a number of reason for YouTube's current lack of confidence in HTML5 as far as online video distribution is concerned. He stressed the need for a standard video format, which is obviously not the case right now as the propriety H.264 codec and the open WebM format are locked in a battle to determine the most popular HTML5 video format – the HTML5 spec does not require support for a standard format.
“The <video> tag certainly addresses the basic requirements and is making good progress on meeting others, but the <video> tag does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube:”
After months of speculation, Hulu has finally revealed their premium paid service, called Hulu Plus. Users will pay $9.99 per month for the privilege to access additional content not available on the free version. Subscribers to the new service will also be able to enjoy content on a number of new devices like iPads, iPhones, and Blu-Ray players. Support for the PS3 is expected sometime in July, and the Xbox will get a Live Gold tie in early in 2011.
It's unclear if users will respond positively to this new pay model. Hulu was created to discourage illegal distribution of content. Adding a pay wall could just drive users back to old habits. That being said, the regular Hulu isn't going away. The big difference will be the full seasons of programs on the Plus service. The free Hulu only offers a few episodes of popular shows. Items from the back catalog will also be made available on Hulu Plus. Depending on the platform, some content will be available in 720p.
We're a little concerned that it is being escribed as an "ad-supported subscription product". It looks like the fee won't get rid of the ads. For the time being, the service is invitation only. You can sign up here to request access. Is this something you'd pay for? If not, what is still missing for you?
We've been hearing rumors that a paid Hulu service could be coming to the Xbox 360 for some time now, but now it looks like Sony could be wrangling a deal as well. The service would be offered through the Playstation Network to PS3 owners. Sources are saying that the deal could be announced as early as next week. Of course, both companies are staying tight lipped about a possible deal for now.
If Hulu intends to build a strong business on a paid subscription model, getting on game consoles is a must. Customers will want to get Hulu on their TVs, not just their PCs. As such, game consoles are a perfect method of delivery. There was originally concern that Microsoft would be able to lock Hulu into an exclusive partnership to provide content to the Xbox 360. We Hope this new round of rumors pan out and we see Hulu on multiple gaming platforms.
A price being floated is around $10 per month, but we don't know what sort of features it would include. We'll just have to wait and see what devices we will be able to get Hulu on, but our fingers are crossed that the answer is 'a lot'.
Some new numbers for analytics firm comScore have more or less revealed what you have been doing when you're supposed to be working. According to the new stats, YouTube had a record 14.6 billion video views in the month of May. Overall, 183 million US internet users watched at least one online video during that same period. How do you people get anything done?
What's really intriguing here is that the total number of online video views comScore is reporting is just short of 34 billion. Therefore, YouTube had 43% of all online video views last month. The next service in the ranking was Hulu with a measly 1.2 billion videos. Both sites are up a bit from April.
Google specifically sees users watching an average of 101.2 videos per month. The nearest competitor is Yahoo's sites with only 7.3 videos per user each month. Clearly YouTube is a juggernaut in this space. Is there a video streaming site you prefer to use instead of YouTube?
Popular video streaming service Hulu is rumored to be talking to both Time Warner and CBS about adding additional content to a possible paid version of the site. The details aren't yet available, but sources say the new content would roll out behind a pay wall of some sort starting in September.
If Hulu could tempt CBS, it would be a major coup for the company. They already have support from Fox, NBC, and ABC. Adding the fourth major TV studio could be a selling point for many consumers. If the September date does hold up, the timing seems perfect for a new season of TV to be available online. We could also see the rollout of the Xbox 360 and iPad Hulu apps at that time. It would make sense for Hulu to make the biggest splash possible when the pay service finally opens up.
It's not clear what benefits a paid Hulu account would provide. What sort of features would you need to see before paying up?
Google debuted its open, royalty-free WebM video format last month. Based on the open-source V8 video codec, WebM is meant as a challenger to the propriety H.264 video codec, which threatens to saddle web video with hefty licensing fees and royalties.
Google, Opera and Mozilla are easily its most prominent backers, with the trio pledging WebM support in their respective browsers. As for the rival camp, Apple's weight is firmly behind H.264, whereas another important patron, Microsoft, has decided to support both H.264 and WebM beginning with IE9.
“Like every codec, WebM is not immune to change; the difference in our project is that the improvements are publicly visible, and compatibility and implementation issues can be worked through in an open forum,” Jim Bankoski, Google's Codec Engineering Manager, wrote in a blog post.
Google has just unveiled a new feature of their popular video sharing site, YouTube. The YouTube Editor will allow users to perform some rudimentary video editing entirely online. It's not going to challenge desktop software in the feature department, but it will serve the needs of many people.
Users will be able to trim any video in their collection, as well as combine multiple clips into a longer one. The files are saved instantly, as Google already has them on their servers. You may not have access to more advanced features, but it brings some new options to a less tech-savvy crowd.
There is no way to edit other's videos for obvious copyright reasons, but wouldn't be surprised to see video sharing features added later. This feels to us like another feature destined for integration with Google's upcoming Chrome OS cloud connected platform. Have a look at the service here, and let us know what you think.