Earlier today I decided to upload a video to YouTube as a test to see how it would compare with Vimeo. I've been using Vimeo because back in the day YouTube was very limiting on the size of videos that could be uploaded. However, the more I use and view videos, especially my own when checking to make sure they came out like I wanted, I've been running into some issues with Vimeo.
From a user standpoint, when viewing videos on Vimeo, you really only have two choices - HD on or HD off. With YouTube, there are numerous choices for resolution, both HD and non-HD, depending on the source video. As I have discovered though, when viewed on my tablet (a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1), the YouTube app only provides choices of HD on or HD off. Vimeo on the other hand, does not even give you a choice. The other thing I've noticed is that Vimeo seems to be more apt to buffering issues.
When viewing on my computer, I've always felt the Vimeo videos were of slightly poorer quality than my source video. I figured this was probably due to some compression being done on Vimeo's end to optimize the video for streaming over the 'net. However, when viewing on my tablet, the videos were exceptionally poor quality. This was the main impetus for testing YouTube - to see if the compression produced a better final product.
Below is a screenshot comparing snapshots from the video I tested with. The top half is the YouTube version (running on my tablet) and the bottom half is the Vimeo version. A few things I noted. First, even though I am not quite in the exact same position, there seems to be a significant loss of resolution of the warning tape at the end of the guardrails. The right guardrail in particular in the Vimeo version is missing a chunk. Externally, the other item I noticed is the shadow of the guardrail - the edge is much more jagged in the Vimeo version.
Besides the external items, there are a couple items on the MINI itself that lend themselves to comparison (especially since they remain static relative to the camera position/frame selected). You may note the differences in the windshield washer nozzle and the detail on the wiper blade.
In general, the YouTube version seems slightly better overall as I examine other parts of the screenshot. Not that either is especially great, but I attribute that to my sorry GoPro and the compression being done on the videos.
You can view the videos below (if you can stand to sit through 12+ minutes each).You might note that YouTube does not let me set the "thumbnail" image displayed, so that is one place where Vimeo has the advantage.
I'll probably do some more testing on different devices. When running on my computer, the differences are not as noticeable. Though neither version seems as clear as some of the videos I see online.