If you're running Chrome or Safari as your main browser, Google's now offering up YouTube videos without Flash. That's right — fewer system hangs, browser crashes and other issues, and just straight-up video through HTML5 standards.
Google has previously allowed Chrome, Safari and Internet-Explorer-using-Chrome-Frame browsers to try out a few HTML5 video demos at its site, but now Google's given you the option to always play videos through the h.264 codec, if they're available. If they have ads or aren't available in h.264, YouTube will serve up the standard Flash player — though that's been upgraded, too, with a nice video format chooser in the lower-right corner.
The notable missing piece here is Firefox. Firefox does support HTML5's video streaming through Ogg Theora, a non-patented, license-free codec that its makers consider more free, while Google and Apple have moved their sites and browsers toward supporting h.264 streaming.
Enough web politics! If you're rocking Chrome, Safari, or Chrome Frame inside IE, head to YouTube's HTML5 page to sign yourself into the beta. If you're signed up for other YouTube lab projects in the TestTube section, you might want to sign yourself out of them — except for Feather, which works fine with HTML5 and makes it even lighter and snappier.
Is HTML5-powered YouTube a better fit for your browsing? Like the Flash player better? Tell us your take in the comments.