Let’s compare some of the main video hosting services. Now that YouTube has been sold to Google, maybe one of these is on the shopping list of Microsoft or Yahoo!

The source: mobile video

The source file I used was recorded with my Nokia N91 phone at a concert of Billie King in the Ancienne Belgique (Brussels), at the end of their set. The cute girl you see hitting the cymbals is Isolde Lasoen, Belgium’s finest female drummer. The equally cute lead singer is Tine Reymer.

The input file is:

  • video format: MPEG-4 (compressed), 352 x 288 pixels, 15 fps
  • filesize: 7.817.226 bytes
  • duration: 0:01:54 (114 seconds) – so around 550 kbps bitrate

This means that (a) the source material was already compressed and comes from a consumer-grade, low-quality camera, so it was no DVD quality to start with and (b) the source dimensions (352 wide) are smaller than most embedded players(400-480 wide) so the movie had to be upsized, which adds some more distortion.

Video hosting services


Size: 425 x 350


Google Video

Isolde on Google Video
Size: 400 x 326

MySpace video

Get this video and more at MySpace.com
Size: 430 x 346


Isolde Lasoen – drummer of Billie King
Uploaded by pforret
Size: 425 x 364


Vimeo actually shows the video in its original MP4 format: best quality, but full size (> 7MB). Moreover, it always loads the clip in an embedded Quicktime player, it does not wait until you press ‘play’.Isolde Lasoen – Billie King concert on Vimeo
Size: 400 x 324


Size: 480 x 392


Size: 343 x 290


View Isolde on Clipshack
Size: 430 x 354


  • I haven’t researched which services use what kind of compression (need to set-up a packet sniffer for that).
  • The only service that does not use a Flash player + FLV Flash video is Vimeo. Their leave-the-format alone approach makes that the servers need less CPU (no transcoding necessary) but more bandwidth. Additionally, the lack of a Flash player means that there is no thumbnail, and the video starts loading right away.
  • Thanks to the fact that I made this blog template wide enough to show Flickr pictures at normal width (i.e. slightly wider than 500px), I could show all movies. If your layout is different, you might have trouble with the Revver (480px wide) format.
  • Most services take their thumbnail around the same time: some 5 seconds into the movie. Google Video takes it screenshot way further (around 15 seconds).