Hulu Plus on the Roku

Hulu Plus Roku 1

Hulu Plus landed on the Roku today with a newly discounted $7.99/month price tag for all subscribers. I don’t have a Hulu Plus account, but I was able to borrow Dave’s for a quick test drive on my home Roku. Initial impressions: Nice execution, but the content is still stinky.

In fairness, some of the content Hulu Plus pitches is pretty sweet, like current episodes of current TV shows. But the program logos on my big screen don’t indicate how much content is actually available. Clicking on Life got me 33 episodes to choose from. Clicking on Dollhouse got me one web clip of a Joss Whedon interview. And where Hulu Plus does have large back catalogs of a handful of shows, the choices seem to mirror the Netflix library. With a quick check I found the complete series of Law and Order SVU and Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Hulu Plus. Guess what. I’ve got both on Netflix too.

As for the interface, it’s got some nice touches, including recommendations and search filters. The one big irritation is that there’s very little metadata available before you click on a show to play. Playback, on the other hand, is beautiful. Dave’s probably pining for 1080p, but I have to say I thought the picture quality was comparable to what I see with linear broadcast high-def TV.

Trying to decide if Hulu Plus makes sense for you? If you don’t have VOD service from your cable or telco provider (which has a lot of current shows), it might be just the ticket, particularly with the new price and extended presence on new devices. However, if your tastes are broader, and you either have VOD or don’t care about current stuff, then Netflix is still the better route.

13 thoughts on “Hulu Plus on the Roku”

  1. Wow, the UI is very different than the typical Roku Channel. (as in: more complex, more visible nav layers, more info) Looking forward to checking it out tonight when I get home!

    Regarding resolution, it looks like you were testing on a small screen and probably from several feet away… It may not be as acceptable closer up and/or on larger screens. On the other hand, I’m much more agreeable to to lower quality vid when it’s TV episodes versus feature length movies. Then again, I’ve been catching up with The Jeffersons online and that content will NEVER be HD. ;)

  2. Picked up a Netgear branded Roku XD. With the Roku and Apple TV, finally looking to transistion away from cable. Live sports still present a problem, but Comcast hasn’t blocked my local cable feed yet so I can still get local college football and Sunday NFL.

  3. Video does look surprisingly good (during the 30 seconds I watched). Although Hulu is somewhat pissing me off. Or maybe it’s the Roku. I need some overscan settings, part of the UI is clipped.

  4. Mari, Why does it have to be Netflix or Hulu Plus? It seems as though a lot of people have a myopic view of the relationship between the two; as if they have to be adversarial. I actually think the services are pretty complementary at this point. Looking for the current episodes and complete seasons of some ABC, NBC and Fox shows and perhaps some movies and documentaries not available on Netlfix, use Hulu Plus. Looking for past seasons of some shows and an extensive collection of movies, turn to Netflix. For only $17/month, get both.

  5. I haven’t noticed the overscan issue on my PS3s. However, on my Roku players it is either an issue with the titles in the Roku Channel store (if I have the aspect ratio on my Samsung LCDs set to ‘just scan’); or an issue with the upper left hand corner of Hulu Plus text if I change the aspect ratio to 16:9…where it should be. Right now I am going with ‘just scan’ because the slight issue in the Channel Store is less annoying than having text cut off on Hulu Plus.

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