Youtube does a good job of automatically changing the resolution based on the current viewing size:
- Initial - 360p
- Expand - 480p
- Fullscreen - 720p or 1080p depending on your monitor size
If Youtube already does a good job of automatically choosing the resolution, why does it give the users controls for changing the resolution independent of the actual viewing size? Vimeo, and many other video sites, also have resolution controls. What are the use cases for a user explicitly choosing a resolution?
- Downscaling - Why would a user choose 720p when the video area is only 360p? A 720p video downscaled to 360p would look nearly the same as a 360p video. Downscaling is just a waste of bandwidth, both on the user's side and the video server's side.
- Poor download speed - Why allow the user to choose a resolution which his Internet connection cannot sustain? If I'm in some public coffee shop sharing an Internet service with a dozen other people and I try to watch a 1080p film, it's going to freeze and buffer every 5 seconds. The software should automatically dial the resolution for me based on connection speed. Why should I be concerned about technical stuff like bitrate, resolution, and buffering?
When designing a video site, shouldn't we remove these resolution controls to simplify the interface? This is assuming we have the progamming logic to correctly choose the resolution for the user.