YouTube has always been the scourge of those of us who like to watch really good looking video. Not just the quality of the content, but the actual video quality. It first started out with high quality videos that were a pretty big step up from the normal quality. Now, the site is taking the quality up in two ways. First with video and also with sound.
Possibly the biggest improvement to those who care most about the poor video quality is the availability of HD video. To be more precise, 720p HD video. It might not look much different than the high quality in the standard YouTube video screen, but put it in fullscreen and there is a definite improvement. It looks just about as good as the 720p trailers from Apple.
This isn’t available for all videos, but you can add “&fmt=22″ to the end of any video URL to see if it has HD video. Elephant’s Dream, The Helium Project and Where Is Matt all have HD video, though unfortunately, the official Monty Python channel’s black knight scene does not.
The second improvement is one to please audiophiles: Surround Stereo! A lot of the sound on YouTube is painful to audiophiles and this should help a bit for at least the few videos that have the high quality stereo. This should help a bit for all those people who use YouTube to preview songs of artists they might want to buy (possibly from the handy links below the video).
Chances are it won’t make a bit of different to most users, but to those who will care, it is a huge step forward. YouTube is finally becoming the video hub for everyone, and not just those who can deal with bad video and audio quality.