Developer: Hulu, LLC
Rating: Ages 12 and up
Requirements: iPad with iOS 4.0 or later
Hulu Plus Features
- Watch both new television shows and classic TV shows
- Subscribe to your favorite
- Some videos designated as Web-Only
- Subscription costs $7.99 a month
Hulu Plus Review
If left on their own, there's little doubt that Hulu Plus would be one of the best services on the planet. When compared to Netflix for iPad, the app's interface is slick and fast, allowing you to quickly and easily find the shows you want to watch and discover new shows. The video playback is excellent and the selection is easily the best for avid TV watchers.
Unfortunately, Hulu often finds their virtual hands cuffed behind their back by a Hollywood that -- like music, newspapers and magazines before them -- seems unwilling to embrace the future, rather, they seem intent on being pulled into it kicking and screaming.
The biggest example of this is the inability to watch Hulu Plus on your HDTV by connecting your iPad to your TV. The app doesn't support video out through accessories like the Digital AV Adapter, but it does hijack the video out so that the iPad 2's display mirroring feature doesn't work. Why? Because Hollywood doesn't want the iPad to be used for watching Hulu Plus on your TV, despite the fact that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 both have Hulu Plus apps.
This is made all the more odd when taken into the context of Hulu being a joint venture of Disney-ABC Television Group, Fox Entertainment Group and NBCUniversal.
Hulu Plus shines despite Hollywood's interference
But despite being held back by a television industry that doesn't realize that times are changing, Hulu Plus manages to be a great addition for an iPad owner who loves TV. You can think of it as a great way to either supplement your TV -- in some ways it can take the place of your DVR -- or even replace your cable provider.
As mentioned above, the interface is great. You can easily switch from the main view to checking out just TV or movies, and each list is divided into featured, most popular and recently added. This makes browsing for a show easy. More importantly, the interface is fast. Despite being image-heavy, you can quickly scroll through lists, oftentimes not even outrunning the loading of the images. Even when you do scroll fast enough that the images are blank, it usually only takes a couple of seconds for them to pop up.
You can also manage your queue, subscribe to shows and check out your video-watching history. All of this makes keeping on top of your favorite shows and finding new shows to watch almost as pleasurable as actually watching the shows. And when you do put that video on, the playback is excellent. Want to watch just a part of the show? No problem. A tap of the finger reveals a scroll bar that will let you skip over parts of the video in a way that x40 fast forward on your Blu-Ray player simply can't replicate.
Hulu Plus has also done a great job of adding feature-length movies to the collections. Always behind Netflix in the movie department, Hulu Plus recently added the Criterion Collection, which is a popular collection including classic movies like Eva, Lord of the Flies and The Seventh Seal.
The chief complaint with Hulu Plus -- besides Hollywood's interference -- is the inclusion of advertisements in the videos. Even though you pay $7.99 a month for the subscription, you'll still be greeted with around 30 seconds of advertising per 8-10 minutes of video. But while some might find this irritating, it is really no different than what you get with cable TV.
Is Hulu Plus worth it? That's the million dollar question. If you watch a lot of TV, it definitely is worth it. They have a great selection of TV shows, and while they don't cover everything, it'll take you a while to run through them all. For movie-buffs, Netflix may be the route to go, but television-lovers will appreciate the slick interface and the hundreds of different shows they can watch.
Do you like to try before you buy? Hulu Plus offers a one-week trial on their website.