Today the word is officially out they now offer full 720p. This format is similar to what's available DailyMotion and Vimeo.
The Google System blog says:
"If you add "&fmt=22", some YouTube videos are now available at an even higher quality, which makes the full screen view a very useful option. Compare:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY (standard format - mono, resolution: 320x180)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY&fmt=18 (stereo, resolution: 480x270) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zlfKdbWwruY&fmt=22 (new format - stereo, resolution: 1280x720)
To embed a higher quality version of a video, replace "http://www.youtube.com/v/VIDEO_ID" with "http://www.youtube.com/v/VIDEO_ID&ap=%2526fmt%3D18" or "http://www.youtube.com/v/VIDEO_ID&ap=%2526fmt%3D22" in YouTube's embeddable code."
has a good article which tested this with one of his own videos.
Here's the popular "Where the Hell is Matt" video in both the new 720p and standard format,
Update: Unless you have at least fast internet connection (2.5 Mbps or higher) you'll have to wait a long time to view this video.
- The Wired HowTo wiki has great information on Watch Higher Quality YouTube Videos .
- The Video Help forums has some interesting discussions and has spotted some videos available in HD, and there are a number of hacks for downloading
- The YouTube specs for uploading the HQ mode are at a resolution of 480x360 or higher. Check out Jimmy Ruska's Blog for the full specs.