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YouTube Adds 1080p HD

The world's most popular video-sharing site is planning to offer content in all of its high-resolution glory. YouTube announced that it will allow users to upload and view video in full HD; a 1080p test video is now available. All of you viewers with fast computers and even faster broadband connections will soon get to indulge in much more.

It's been about a year since the Google-owned broadcaster made 720p video available. In that time, full-HD camcorders have become relatively common and more of YouTube's content has been uploaded as 1080p, though it wasn't viewable as such. The company plans to re-encode all of this previously created material so that viewers will be able to take advantage of its original resolution.

It's hard to believe that YouTube has only been around for a little over four years. It will not be the first video-sharing site to offer full HD, but it will almost certainly be the one to bring it to the masses. Alternately derided and celebrated for blockbusters like "Charlie Bit My Finger," YouTube has recently become eager to present commercial content and compete with the likes of Hulu, a joint venture of three major broadcast networks. Last spring, YouTube began to offer some premium content from Hollywood; the term "premium" should be used loosely, however, since the pickings have been slim. In September, the Wall Street Journal reported [subscription required] that YouTube was in serious talks with major film studios to stream movies on a rental basis.

The move to 1080p should support those initiatives. It's conceivable that YouTube could provide Blu-ray quality streams for paid content. For regular folk, full HD will mean the chance to share those bloopers and family videos on a wall-size screen. Would-be auteurs should be aware that, for now, YouTube will still limit user-generated content to 10 minutes in length. It seems plausible, however, that the current 2GB file-size limit will get a lift, considering how monstrously large those 1080p videos will be. Get those cameras rolling!

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