Hulu Plus Gets An A+: Hands On Review
Over the past few hours I've been testing Hulu's new Plus service and as aside from a few quirky issues with the player, the service is quite good. I've been using it on my MacBook, iPad and iPhone and the quality of the videos are excellent across all three devices. Hulu's 720p streams look just as good as Netflix's and of all three Apple devices, the size of the iPad screen naturally makes Hulu's videos look best on the iPad.
So far I have not seen any quality issues with the video and buffering is extremely low. As it should be, the quality of video with the Plus service is quite an improvement over the 480p content on Hulu.com. As a test, I found a clip from Scoundrels which starts off with a shot of a bunch of spinning windmills in the desert and there was no pixelation at all. Clearly Hulu got the encoding down right as things like spinning windmills and running water in shots tend to show pixelation very easily if not encoded properly. Even taking the video out of my MacBook and in to a 50" Vizio TV, the quality is very good.
The registration process to sign up for Hulu Plus is super simple and only requires your basic contact details and credit card info on one page and currently Hulu only accepts MasterCard and Visa. With the way Hulu displays all of the video preview windows, it could be very difficult to figure out which content is free and which requires a subscription. To address this issue, Hulu places a green plus icon next to any content that's available only with the subscription service.
While I didn't see any major problems with the service, there were a few quirks I came across in the player. When I changed my video player settings from auto-select to 720p as default, the video would stop and not start back up again. Clicking the update button would update my settings, but also require me to have to refresh the page and watch the ad all over again. I'm assuming this is an issue that Hulu will get fixed or that it could potentially be an issue on my side based on the version of my browser, player etc. I'll update the post when I hear back from Hulu on this. I've also reached out to Hulu to see if they will disclose some of their video encoding settings. I've also had an issue where the player delivers me the same ad twice, before it plays the video, but I don't think this is a widespread issue as it didn't do this all the time.
Whether or not Hulu Plus has enough content to make it worth paying for is something everyone is going to have their own opinion on. But from a technical and quality perspective, Hulu Plus offers exactly what
one would expect it should for ten dollars a month.
Note: I didn't have time to capture video of Hulu Plus in action on my Apple devices but I'll try to update this post later with some videos.