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Ogg Theora vs. H.264: head to head comparisons

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Streaming video websites like YouTube face growing pressure from consumers to provide support for native standards-based Web video playback. The HTML5 video element provides the necessary functionality to build robust Web media players without having to depend on proprietary plugins, but the browser vendors have not been able to build a consensus around a video codec.

Although the h264 codec has gained dominance due to its excellent compression and broad support in the consumer electronics ecosystem, it is covered by patents that preclude broad royalty-free usage. Several browser vendors, including Opera and Mozilla, favor the Ogg Theora media codec, which is believed to be unencumbered by patents. Ogg may offer advantages from a licensing standpoint, but there are still many unanswered questions about its quality and suitability for Internet video streaming services.

Streaming media consultant Jan Ozer conducted a hands-on comparison of Ogg and h264 in order to shed some light on the relative difference in encoding quality and performance. He has published the results of his comparison, including screen captures and sample clips, in a report at the Streaming Learning Center.

In the videos and still images that he provides for comparison purposes, the h264 content has better color quality and higher detail than the Ogg Theora content.

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