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Hands on With Hulu Desktop

This
week, Hulu released its
desktop player for Mac. If you’re a TV-loving Mac user, you
probably tried Boxee to disastrous affect. So is Hulu’s homegrown app
any better?

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Not only is it better, it’s downright amazing. Firing up Hulu Desktop is a lot like turning on a TV: just one click and you’ve got a show on-screen, playing where you last left off. The image is larger
than on Hulu’s Web interface, and the sound quality
seems better as well. That’s because Hulu Desktop defaults
to High Quality streaming, unlike its Web counterpart. If your
connection is slow, this will be painful, but loading seems to happen more quickly through desktop than Web in my tests.

Picture 1

There are only three buttons:
Start Watching, Menu, and Login. The image itself is also a button:
click it, and the show you’re watching spreads to the full size of the
window, and reveals the size of the buffer, the episode, and its
average ratings.

Picture 2

Here’s where things get trippy:
hit Command-F, and enter into full
screen mode. Hit Escape to get out, and, no, you don’t get back to your
desktop; the video playing gets shuttled into the corner of the screen,
and you’re taken to a Front Row-like interface where you can browse
through all of Hulu’s offerings in a clean, snappy interface that
can–brilliantly–be manipulated by the scroll wheel on your mouse.

Download it at Hulu Labs.

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