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YouTube to get high-def 1080p player

YouTube exec announces another bump-up in available YouTube resolution. The new resolution, as well as a new full-screen player, will roll out to all users within days.

SAN FRANCISCO--At the NewTeeVee Live conference on Thursday, YouTube director of product management Hunter Walk announced that the video-streaming service is getting a new high-quality streaming option: full HD, or "1080p" resolution. The current "high-quality" option, when available on YouTube videos, is 720p, referring to the number of horizontal scan lines that make up the image.

Walk said the new resolution, as well as a new full-screen player, will roll out to all users within days.

YouTube co-founder Steve Chen announced high-quality YouTube viewing at NewTeeVee 2007. He also said, then, that YouTube stores all video it receives at the resolution it's uploaded at. So when YouTube ads a resolution option, as it did then and is doing now, it simply needs to re-encode videos for the new player, not get new raw content.

Walk said that about half of the 1080p content in the YouTube database has been re-encoded so far.

Only about 10 percent of playbacks on YouTube are now in the high-quality player. Walk said that this is due in large part to the fact that for many viewers, hardware or bandwidth limitations prohibit high-quality viewing. Also, more content is coming in from mobile devices than ever. "We've seen about a 2,000 percent increase in mobile uploads this year," Walk said. Update: A YouTube spokesperson contacted me with this correction: "This is incorrect. It's HD uploads that have grown from 1% to nearly 10% over the course of 11 months."

Other changes afoot at YouTube: The team remains interested in a non-Flash video player. "We're interested in broad accessibility," Walk said, reminding the NewTeeVee audience that the company has demonstrated an HTML 5-based YouTube player. "We keep an open mind," he said.