Welcome to Webmaster World! FYI, there are no stupid questions here. ;)
You may wish to consider an ISP that specializes in streaming video, not so much for the quality, but for the bandwidth usage issue.
With or without a a video plug-in, the quality will be in how the video was shot and optimized, not in the host. That being said, some hosts may curtail your bandwidth by ratcheting down the amount allocated to you thus causing your video to either load slowly or not look as you may want it to.
You don't need a streaming host. If it's not a streaming server the video file is treated as any other file and downloaded, the playback is handled by the player client side. When the user loads the player then clicks play the player will begin to download the file, once enough of the file has been downloaded for smooth playback (buffered) it will start to play the file from the start.
The benefit of having a streaming host is the user can FF though the video without having to download parts in between.
Any other pros/cons re: a "streaming host"? Also, any suggestions for a good, reliable streaming host that doesn't cost thousands per month?
Maybe I'm overly concerned with validation, but my recommendation concerns the SYNTAX of embedding YouTube vids... the <embed> tag and 'un-escaped' ampersands that YouTube 'suggest' fail :(
The following (using a Webmasterworld vid) is valid (in HTML 4 strict) :)
Thanks for the input on YouTube validation. I wasn't aware of that.
Has anybody had any experience with Viddler? I would be interested to know anyone's thoughts (if that's a permissible question here--as I said, I a newbie--so I don't know if mentioning specific hosts is allowed.
Thanks to those who have responded. I really appreciate it.
To piggyback on what coalman says, video length is a big part of the equation around whether to use true streaming.
Also, IIRC, streaming technologies can include a dynamic throttling component that varies the quality (bandwidth) of the stream based on the performance of the connection between server and client.
Another thing to be aware of is content distribution networks. It doesn't sound like you're a candidate, but it's worth knowing about.
I have about 400 2-3 minute segments hosted on a basic Windows VPS account and they perform quite well. Migrating from swf to flv improved things alot.
If you want to have the video viewable on your site then you're going to need to install a player on your server; something like JW FLV Player.