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5 Reasons Why YouTube HD Videos are the Computing Benchmark for ICT4D

By Wayan Vota on May 2, 2012
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With the proliferation of computer hardware from desktops to laptops to myriad mobile phones, smartphones, tablets and everything in between, there is a real challenge to convey the performance of a device to an end user.

Is the 1GHz ARM processor in a iPAD less powerful than a netbook with AMD of 1.8Ghz? Or a netbook with 2GB of RAM is twice the power of a Samsung tablet with 1GB? Or that iOS or Android is more or less functional that Microsoft 7?

Rather than debating MHz or chipsets, we should use the benchmark that our clients already agreed on – the YouTube video. But not just any YouTube video, but an HD video playing at 720 frames per second.

In fact, test your device right now by playing this video.

Why is an HD YouTube video worth of benchmark status across devices? Because it tests so many variables at once.

Bandwidth

First, the YouTube video has to be downloaded from the Internet. That little download bar going across the bottom of the video is a great visual way to show the ability of mobile, wireless, LAN, or other Internet bandwidth connectivity to download data. For those that think 3G is the best choice for everyone, always, that slooooowly loading bar will educate them on the realities of shared bandwidth.

Processor, Chipset & RAM

At the very basic, playing YouTube videos taxes the CPU, video card, and associated drivers. A weak chipset will not be able to play an HD video at a normal pace, which will be obvious to the end user. Better RAM optimization will also be smoother on playback, and make the video more enjoyable to watch.

Operating System & Browser

Playing a YouTube video is a good way to test if the operating system and browser is compatible with common website design and video codex standards. If a user is prompted to download plugins or cannot play a YouTube at all, this may signal that other sites will also not render correctly, frustrating end users.

Screen Size

No one likes to squint when watching a video, and everyone likes to share a good video with friends, watching it together, like TV. Playing a YouTube video is a great way to test the screen size to see if it’s big enough for multiple viewers at once. If you hear “I can’t see, I can’t see!” you know the screen is not big enough.

Audio Output

Last but not least, everyone wants to hear a video audio, so playing a YouTube video is a great way to show if device speakers are loud enough for the prescribed use case, and if external speakers can be attached to boost sound quality and volume.

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Written by
Wayan Vota co-founded ICTworks and is the Digital Health Director at IntraHealth International. He also co-founded Technology Salon, MERL Tech, ICTforAg, ICT4Djobs, ICT4Drinks, JadedAid, Kurante, OLPC News and a few other things. Opinions expressed here are his own and do not reflect the position of IntraHealth International or other ICTWorks sponsors.
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