HD Video Playback on the iPhone 3GS

You may be aware that Microsoft's Zune HD will hit shelves on September 15th. The portable device will play HD video and compete with Apple's iPod Touch. What you may not know is that the iPhone 3GS is already capable of playing 720p and 1080p resolution HD video without skipping a beat.

Although the iPhone screen resolution is only 480x320 pixels, the possibility of future Apple devices linking to external displays for HD video playback is real.

The video player included on the 3GS was proven by a Chinese user to play files encoded in H.264 at resolutions of up to 1920x1080 at 30 Mbps. Currently, Apple limits external video output on the iPhone to 640x480 resolution at 1.5 Mbps.

It's likely the company doesn't want the processor to generate excessive heat playing HD video. Battery and storage limitations are also a concern, even with the 32GB iPhone 3GS.

For testing purposes, HD video was viewed on the iPhone 3GS with the application FileAid. Other users have reported that iDisk allows iPhone owners to store and view HD video clips as well.

Apple rents 720p HD movies directly through iTunes. The ability to rent and play HD using an iPhone hooked up to a television could give the Zune HD a run for its money.

iPhones and video-capable iPods can be linked to an external display using Apple's Universal Dock, Composite AV Cable, or Component AV Cable.