Even if you have a really fast Internet connection, lots of PCs choke when it comes to streaming HD content. Adobe takes a big step toward fixing that, with the release of the first beta of Flash Player 10.1. If you have a graphics card in your PC, chances are lots of Flash video clips from the web that did nothing but stutter and drop frames before will suddenly play smoothly.
This is great. Now tiny and underpowered netbooks, notebooks, and PCs will be able to crunch those mighty H.264 HD video files (sorry, Macs and Linux, no acceleration for you just yet, but it's on the way). Not only will you get butter-smooth playback, but you'll conserve battery life at the same time. Yeah, some graphics cards aren't compatible with this player (but most are), and no, the iPhone is not supported yet.
This is the beginning of a new era of improved streaming video. Keep in mind, this is just beta software — Adobe's saying the finished version will be available next year — so only the adventurous will want to give this a try. But for the rest of us, we can rest assured knowing that those brand-new 1080p YouTube videos will smoothly stream soon, even on the most humble of machines.