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Paris-based online video site Dailymotion added the ability to encode uploaded videos in high definition quality today. While they are not the first to add such a feature, Vimeo did it last year, they are so far the biggest of the video sharing sites to do so.
Dailymotion, which landed $34 million in funding back in August (our coverage), is one of the largest video sites in terms of total unique visitors worldwide with 32 million in December according to Comscore.
The question which many, including ReadWriteWeb are asking is if HD encoding matters on the web. From YouTube’s perspective, the quality of the video is not as important as the quality of the content it is providing its users. YouTube co-founder Steve Chen reiterated as much multiple times in a November conversation with Om Malik and Liz Gannes.
It is also important to recognize, as Dailymotion does, that HD video requires a lot more resources to transfer successfully. It not only requires a fast connection to eliminate long buffering times, but requires a quick processor on the user’s end to decode the signal.
Testing the Dailymotion HD content on my just-below 2 Mbps connection, the site definitely had some difficulties streaming. After around 6 interruptions in the first 45 seconds, I simply paused the video and let it load first before continuing. YouTube might not be quite as popular if every user had to sit through that. If it is more interested in getting people all over the world to watch videos on their site as Chen states, their best approach right now may be to hold off on HD content.
Still, Dailymotion does a nice job warning you that your connection might not be fast enough for the HD and asks if you would prefer to view the video in standard definition.
These more resource intensive videos also undoubtedly mean more costs for Dailymotion, but they are forging ahead hoping that HD is enough of a differentiator that the extra cost of HD will be offset.
Dailymotion also recommends watching their HD videos in fullscreen mode on your computer – or even on a big screen TV if you can hook up your computer to it. This is in stark contrast to the majority of YouTube videos which are seen through tiny embed players on sites throughout the Internet.
You can find a directory of all Dailymotion’s HD content on this page and check out the embed below.