updated 02:20 pm EST, Tue December 4, 2007
Adobe Flash with H.264
Adobe today launched one of its most significant updates to its web tools for video creation and playback. Flash 9 Update 3 is the first public version of the player to support video in the H.264 format, significantly improving video quality. With a fast-enough connection, viewers can watch HD-quality clips in the same format used by many Blu-ray and HD DVD movies, Adobe boasts. Videos can also use the High Efficiency AAC standard to provide backing audio at higher quality without affecting bandwidth.
The feature is cross-platform and uses the computer's full hardware features to improve playback: multi-core processors and video card acceleration are automatically used as long as the viewer is using a mainstream operating system and web browser.
The update is available today for Mac OS X and Windows and is already being used by a handful of content providers, including the beta test for Hulu. The joint venture between NBC and News Corp is currently offering about ten trailers from Fox and Universal that use the new format to boost the resolution to 720p. Videos cannot be embedded at present, Hulu notes. The beta is currently invite-only and viewable only in the US.
H.264 videos already form the basis for YouTube clips when seen from an Apple TV or iPhone and are expected to replace the current format for Flash video on the standard YouTube website in the near future.