Youtube In 1080p Is Stupid

Stupid may be a harsh term for this feature. However, does youtube in 1080p actually make sense? For small scale technology reviewers, like myself, an increase to 1080p files means more storage, more time, and more bandwidth.

Consider this: my 720p videos, depending on length, take up between 200 and 350MB of space. Granted, I’m on the higher end of the spectrum but never the less this is a substantial amount of space for one single movie. This isn’t even including the space taken up by the raw, uncompressed video files which easily exceed 5GB per movie. Upping the resolution of my content to 1080p would result in heftier movie files which are even more difficult to store and manipulate on my home network.

The increase in space also means more time spent editing. Currently, I edit my content on an older MacBook Pro and it takes about 20 minutes to export my youtube videos. 1080p would make this process take even longer. Plus, these higher resolution clips don’t play as smoothly on my computer as 720p clips making the editing process a little more strenuous, frustrating and annoying. Overall, 1080p content means more time in post production, time that I don’t currently have.

Uploading my content has never been a problem. I have Verizon Fios and it takes about 3-5 minutes to upload an entire video. However, I live in a utopia of bandwidth where as many users upload with only a fraction of the speed I have. I couldn’t imagine spending two hours uploading a youtube video but I’m sure I would produce much less content if it took this long. Plus, many internet service providers, excluding Verizon, have a bandwidth limit in effect meaning uploading these larger videos could get you in trouble with your ISP. Are outrageous upload times and the possibility of penalty fee’s worth a 1080p youtube clip, I think not.

But that is the point of view of a content producer. Even with these annoyances in mind, I would make the leap if I thought the upgrade was worth the difficulty. However, will 1080p work on youtube?

On my quad core custom build HD youtube videos work wonderfully. Once the video buffers, content looks nice and the videos are enjoyable. However, on slower machines the viewing experience isn’t as fluid. My mac has a 2.5GHz processor and 4GB of ram but HD video playback, on youtube, is a problem. Videos stutter and pause as they buffer and overall it’s not worth the quality boost. I can only imagine the tragedy that HD playback is on a machine with less power than that. As long as youtube uses flash to display their videos, we really cannot expect video playback to be reliable and smooth.

I previously mentioned bandwidth as an issue for 1080p youtube videos and again the transfer of bits plays a huge role in this discussion. Many users have crippled internet connections running slower than 1Mb/s. How do you expect to stream HD, let alone 1080p, clips with a connection like that. Even on a fast connection like I have, youtube consistently has issues delivering constant throughput and in many cases I have to wait to watch the content as the video buffers. With the extra strain on the youtube servers from the launch of 1080p, I can only speculate the slowdown we can expect.

But what are your thoughts? I asked my twitter followers their opinions on 1080p youtube videos and received these replies.

Twitter users @applehamiltus said:

Good quality like 1080p sounds great but the painfully slow buffering times are rubbish.

Twitter user hihat7 said:

I am unable to even play them, dropped frames, high CPU usage, slow safari, spinning beachball. Keeping well away from 1080p

On a positive note, twitter user @jonathanjb said:

The 1080p HD on youtube will freakin awesome for cameras that have the capability of shooting 1080p videos.

And finally, my good friend @andreatunes said:

Well, is it really necessary such a hi-def on the tube? Sometimes, well, hell yeah, but most of the times I’m afraid it’s a waste of time for video-makers (and viewers too, considering that you need a pretty powerful machine to run those clips).

Personally, I won’t be adopting youtube’s new 1080p feature anytime soon. I mean, what’s so bad with 720p? What do you think, does 1080p belong on youtube?

One Comment

I am on Verizon Fios as well. My speed rating is 25/20. It will not play YouTube 1080. I have to wait like crazy amount of time for it to load/buffer. This makes me think, is the 25/20 speed still not enough for stream HD?