Last November the YouTube co-founders announced while attending in a TeeVee conference, that their company was toying with higher resolution videos replacing the low res that currently makes up for more than three quarters of the total clips uploaded. Because of the cryptic and almost Spartan 'leak,' the media jumped and all sorts of estimates started floating. "Will it be HDTV? Obviously, the Google owned video sharing service must be feeling Hulu breathing heavy down its neck and decided to step up its game," was one of the trains of thought.
Arguments immediately appeared showing that no tool in the world would enhance a resolution that much, or, at any rate, better than the original file uploaded. It'd be too costly and simply not worth it. Yet. A consensus was arrived at, and it was probably the only one possible, shaped after an old saying: we'll live and see it.
Four months after that conference and one month longer than predicted, YouTube is testing higher quality video. At the moment, the option is available for a limited number of clips and trying it out is a bit boorish in fashion. Ionut Alex. Chitu of the Google Operating System noticed that by appending &fmt=6 to the URL of a YouTube video, a new page should open and it should have the video in a higher resolution. The screenshots on the left are his exemplification of the difference, while I couldn't find any that would be included in the limited number that have the option made available.
The regular version of 320 x 240 was modified to that of 448 x 336, and the audio encoding was upped from 22050 Hz to 44100 Hz. It's not a big increase, but a step in the right direction. Probably once the testing phase will come to an end, a button for switching to high res will be added somewhere on the page. Note: a video with better resolution will load slower.