BBC iPlayer goes high definition

Selected programmes will soon be available on the on-demand TV service in HD form, for both streamed and downloaded content

Selected programmes will soon be available on the BBC's iPlayer online on-demand TV service in high-definition (HD) form.

Both streamed and downloaded content — such as Doctor Who and Dragons' Den — will get improved picture quality in the coming weeks.

The new HD format will initially appear on the online version of iPlayer but will soon be available to Virgin Media cable customers and on the PlayStation 3.

As well as the HD capability, iPlayer will also soon be able to work out what internet connection a user has and change the streaming options to provide the best possible quality of image.

Other new features destined for iPlayer include a customisable viewing-window size and the full version launch of iPlayer for Mac and Linux users.

There is likely to be more to come from iPlayer: the BBC's director of Future Media and Technology, Erik Huggers, said in a recent interview with ZDNet UK's sister site, silicon.com, that he wants iPlayer to incorporate more social functionality.

iPlayer has come a long way since its initial launch as a Windows-only service in 2007.

Since then it has become available for Mac and Linux and, according to the BBC, has received more than 387 million requests to download or stream content since its official launch on Christmas Day 2007.

Such has been the impact of iPlayer since its release that the BBC's independent regulator, the BBC Trust, recently admitted it may require a rethink in how the TV licence is paid.