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July 9, 2010

Hulu Plus – The Good. The Bad. And the WTF?!

Hulu PlusAfter an agonizingly long few days of waiting, Hulu has let me into the preview for Hulu Plus. Cue the trumpets! Is it all I dreamed it would be and more? Frankly, no.

Here’s the basics of what you need to know. First off, the preview period is more of a 30 day free trail. You have to provide a credit card in order to qualify and are warned that you’ll be charged if you don’t cancel before your 30 days are up.

Spoiler alert!

…You’re not going to cancel your cable for this.


The Good:
I can now watch Hulu on my iPad, which actually works quite nicely. Even over 3G (but only with a bit of hacking).

Your queue syncs across all platforms, which I expected, but you never know what those corporate goons will deem a required feature for launching a new product.

HD content. Yes, it’s not the best looking HD I’ve seen, but it looks pretty good on the iPad. Now I don’t have Samsung TV to try this on, so I don’t know how well it scales. Though I did use my video out cable for my iPad to connect to my LG TV (again with some hacking) and it looked alright. Bottom line, the quality is improved from what you see on the regular version of Hulu.com.

The browser based experience hasn’t changed really, just more seasons in a higher quality. But this also means there’s no real learning curve to making the move to Hulu Plus for those who are technologically challenged.

The Bad:
Hulu Plus will soon be available for my PS3, right? Well… Sort of. Turns out that you have to be a PSN Plus subscriber in order to use Hulu Plus during the preview. Raising your monthly cost (with a 1yr PSN Plus subscription) of service to $14.16. However, when Hulu Plus leaves “beta” it’s supposed to go live for all PS3 users, even those without a PSN Plus subscription.

Hulu Plus for iPad isn’t quite ready for prime time. Seriously, Hulu’s been sitting on this idea for months (if not years) and they couldn’t even make a decent first impression with their iPad app? The search interface for the iPad app is the most boring thing I’ve seen since watching the paint dry after I remodeled my bathroom. And at least that was a nice shade of green. I have yet to try Hulu Plus for the iPhone, but I imagine it suffers from more of the same bucket o’ lame.

No surrond sound. This is something I gleaned from the Engadget review, since I don’t have a Samsung TV to try this with. But come on guys, even my measly 5.1 surrond sound system is ashamed of you.

The WTF:
Seriously, I’m paying you $9.99 a month, why are you still subjecting me to ads?! I understand this mirrors the cable model, but if Hulu really wants this to catch on they might consider thinking outside the box.

An even bigger issue is the fact that any time you receive a push notification from another app it doesn’t pause your playback, it actually exits out of it and then for whatever reason it doesn’t just resume from where you left off but rather starts the video from the beginning.


Did I mention you won’t cancel your cable for this? Especially if you pay for HD content already, broadcast HD is miles ahead of the quality of Hulu Plus. People who think this is going to save them from the big bad cable comings are smoking something serious. Unless Hulu buys Netflix and offers DVD rentals and commercial free streaming for $9.99 a month, then they might be on to something.

However if you don’t currently have cable, this might be a decent option to consider.

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