First Look: Hulu and You

Roberto Baldwin's picture

First Look: Hulu and You

 

After a very public dissagreement concerning pricing, Apple and NBC Universal parted ways a few months back. NBC wanted to experiment with pricing, Apple didn't. In the wake of the break-up, NBC announced it was creating a video portal named, Hulu. Hulu would allow NBC to control its content and sell ads much the same way traditional television does.

 

On the surface, Hulu seems like the knee-jerk reaction of a spoiled child who, when it couldn't get its way with Apple and the iTunes store, went off and created its own video site. In fact, Hulu is a good start at offering video on demand on the internet. Once you begin exploring the site you get sucked into watching television shows, film and TV clips and full length films. All for free.

 

The site has two sections, TV and Movies. Videos are shown in a Flash window that allows you to watch the video full screen, open the video in a new window, lower the contrast of the surrounds white space in the page and embed the video into a website. For example, enjoy the Robot Hell Song from "Futurama."

 

 

 

 

 

The funniest show on TV makes a comeback

 

The TV section has an extensive selection from NBC, Fox and their affiliated networks. Browse by network, genre, alphabetical order and popularity of the show or clip. Fans of the critically acclaimed, and enourmously funny show, "Arrested Development," will be happy to discover every episode is available. Unfortunately, not every show is as fortunate, "The Office" has only nine episodes from season four.

 

All shows are preceded by a 7-10 sec "This show is brought to you by" ad. 22 min episodes have three 20 - 30 second commercial breaks. The last of these is at the end of the show before the credits. 44 min shows have five commercial breaks, also with one of those commercials at the end of the episode before the credits.

 

Is watching the "Mama Mia" trailer really worth skipping commercials?

 

The Movies section is still pretty sparse. While a nice array of films are listed, not all of them are full length films, some of them are clips of the film. That's great if you can't get enough of clips from "Miracle on 34th Street." The short commercials don't hinder the movie watching experience that much, and some films have the option of watching a trailer before the movie instead of commercials. Some films have the option of being viewed in standard 360p or hi-res 480p. Although, calling 480p hi-res is a stretch, at best.

 

Subscribe to your favorite shows

 

You can subscribe to your favorite show and place videos in your queue to watch later. The queue alleviates the need to search for shows you found earlier, but didn't have time to watch because your boss decided hang out at your desk all day.

 

On the whole, Hulu is a surprise delight for what it is. You can't watch it on your iPod, and the iPhone doesn't support Flash. We were hoping we could go home and watch the videos on the Nintendo Wii or PlayStation 3. Unfortunately, the browsers in both devices only support Flash 7 and you need Flash 8 in order to watch Hulu content. Still, even with it's limited library, it's still Mac compatible which is something Netflix, its closest rival in this area, has yet to rectify. So, if you have a broadband internet connection and some time to kill, Hulu is a fun distraction.

 

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Larry Erickson

Found it by chance and think it is great. I don't watch network or cable TV because of the amount of commercials one must wade through. With hulu commercials are timed and allow only a brief pause in the entertainment. I give it a big plus and can only see it getting better, I hope in the future.

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monotommy

I live in Norway so I can´t logg on.
To bad, looks like it could be cool....

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fastlane

You get what you pay for. I had to constantly pause the movie while waiting for the downloading. The ads are short but who really wants to watch a movie with junk food spot interruptions or any involuntary interruption.

Who ever came up with this service might want to polish up their resume and hope for a better job market soon.

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Cubert

480p is NOT HD. Maybe NBC is ducking the definition by referring to it as "high res" instead of HD.

720p, 1080i, and 1080p are HD.

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Anonymous

Actually,

480i & 480p are SD (Standard Definition)

720i & 720p are ED (Enhanced Definition)

1080i & 1080p are HD (High Definition)

i = Interlaced (lines of resolution interlaced, odds, then evens, 27fps)

p = progressive (lines of resolution in order [i.e. 1,2,3,etc.], 30fps)

720p declared as HD is just a way for TV manufacturers to attempt to sell lower quality units when high-quality is being pushed as "it".

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Roberto Baldwin

At this point in the digital video world, I automatically lump HD and High-Res together. I guess they got me on a technicality. You may have won the definition war this time NBC, but I'm watching you!

-Robbie

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Jerry

While on the surface, it looks like a good start, not allowing downloads to your portable devices makes it useless to me. This means one of two things will happen...
They will add this ability soon OR someone will create an app to grab the content and convert it for use on iPods and other portable devices.

With the idiots at NBC that have no understanding of digital media and the net, I would expect it will be the latter. Way to give up your 99 cents and replace it with ZERO.

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Anonymous

great website
but they need to get more episodes and shows as soon as they can
its free and it is legal what else do you want

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QuakerProf

I've been on the beta of this for a while, and it does have a nice selection of TV shows. However, unlike getting full-series DVDs by mail from Netflix, there is no way to store content (even including the ads) on your hard drive. I suppose this is for various reasons, including wanting to be able to update the ads that you view, but not everyone always has internet access.

For instance, my best times to watch video on my laptop are in places without internet- planes, trains, and automobiles. Oh, yeah... wonder if they have that...

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