YouTube launched a new rental service this week, allowing users to rent movies with their Google account. The launch movie selection is relatively limited with a handful movies from the Sundance Film Festival, but given the tremendous traffic of YouTube, the new option has certainly potential once more content is available.

The videos are in 720p quality (one preview trailer in 1080p), and streamed through Flash Media Server. Another interesting aspect are the public statistics, unveiling details about the rental, including views, comments, ratings, even the target age range, and the geographical popularity (currently limited to the US).

Although it’s clearly an early beta, YouTube might be become an easy to access channel for movie rentals in the future. Judging based on the the available movies, the quality is convincing – smooth and crisp 720p HD, with the ability to take full advantage of H.264 hardware decoding in Flash Player 10.1.

Find out more details on the YouTube weblog.