updated 10:50 am EST, Mon January 19, 2009
Google's video site YouTube has started rolling out downloadable versions of its video clips as well as newer viewing options for set-tops. The former lets viewers of freely available clips, such as from Barack Obama and home-made movies, download permanent copies of those clips in their higher-quality but standard definition 480x270 versions in an H.264 format playable on modern portable devices such as all modern iPhones and iPods, Sony's Walkman line and Microsoft's Zune series.
The rollout isn't universal and doesn't yet involve commercial content such as music videos, which are normally only available as downloads through paid stores such as iTunes or the Zune Marketplace.
Separately, owners of VUDU's network media streaming hubs have also received a new upgrade to the YouTube viewing feature that adds the full 720p HD resolution for videos encoded at the improved quality. The revision is free and just requires triggering the update feature. VUDU's devices are the first hardware devices to support YouTube HD.