Friday, March 25, 2011

Rewired: Part Three - The Minuses of Hulu Plus

Item: Hulu Plus
Price: $7.99 per month
Days to pay for itself (compared to cost of cable): 1.6 per month

It's been well over a month since we cut cable, and we're surprisingly happy with our new set-up... With one exception: Hulu Plus.  First off, here's what it is: Hulu Plus is a streaming service available through the PS3, Roku, mobile Apple devices, and a few select TVs/Blu-ray players. Hulu Plus has over 400 shows and 800 movies available for streaming to your TV/game console/mobile device.
They have some good shows (Nova, X-Files, Firefly, Law & Order SVU, Spaced, Little Britain, Daily Show, etc.). They have a plethora of crap shows (Airwolf, Time Tunnel, Major Dad, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, etc.). They have a bunch of shows I never watch, but that people seem to like (Family Guy, Glee, Jersey Shore,30 Rock, etc.).
It sounds like a pretty good deal for 8 bucks a month until you realize that the standard version of Hulu has four times the number of shows FOR FREE. I can watch Simpsons, Venture Brothers, Fringe, Walking Dead, Sons of Anarchy, etc for free on Hulu, but NOT on Hulu Plus. I realize that it's a licensing issue, but I really don't want to shell out $8 per month just to watch Nova with commercials (sometimes thrown in mid-sentence).
The selection isn't even the worst bit. I don't know if Hulu Plus won an online auction for a load of Soviet-era Bulgarian technology, but that seems to be what their running their service on. Damn near every show you watch will skip ahead, freeze, or (if you're lucky) completely lock-up so that you have to manually re-boot the PS3. It's ridiculous. I have never had that problem with Netflix's streaming service, but It happens constantly with Hulu Plus.
The one thing I can say that I really like about Hulu Plus is that they've started to make available a load of Criterion Collection films, and seem to be adding in more all of the time. That's good. When I was trying to watch Nobuhiko Obayashi's 'House' The film kept locking-up and it took me over 2 hours to watch an 88 minute film. That's not good.
Don't believe the hype - There's no "race" between Netflix and Hulu Plus, that'd be like a race between a Ferrari and a filing cabinet. Hulu Plus could be a great service if they work out the bugs in their system and focus on securing more licenses for current shows. That looks like it is a long way off, so until they work out their myriad flaws, I can't (in good conscience) recommend Hulu Plus to anyone. Then again, it's still better than Comcast.

1 comment:

Chris B. said...

I'm going through much the same transition you guys have (except I'm holding on to Dish Network - our bill is ~$40/mo, so not terrible). I got a PS3 to use as a media center and it's okay, but not the total solution so far, in my experience.

My new plan is to buy a cheap (<$350) PC that will serve up the web more easily than the PS3 does. This will also allow me to use XBMC or Boxee, which help to aggregate the various sources of media into one nice interface.

If I ever get a free minute, I want to reconnect the antenna to get PBS alternates in HD again, too. Austin City Limits in HD is fantastic.