Oh man, Hulu just issued an exhaustive and exhausting list of updates to their site and service, all of which look really great. You can check out the full list on their official site here, but I’ll lay out the biggies and explain why Hulu is way better than ever before.
Adaptive streaming. You know how Netflix never really stutters or skips in Instant Watch mode, but instead the quality just goes up and down depending on how many episodes of Treme your roommate is downloading? (This may be a problem specific to my apartment.) That’s due to adaptive quality streaming–it measures your bandwidth in real time, and adjusts the amount of data (which you can see as the quality of video) accordingly. What it means for Hulu is no more skipping or stuttering video.
Pop-up thumbnails. Trying to find that one killer line in Parks and Recreation? Sometimes it’s hard to skip around and find exactly what you want, and you end up watching commercials for no reason because you can’t find what you’re looking for. Hulu added in real-time thumbnail previews so this doesn’t happen–hover your cursor over the progress bar to see a thumbnail.
Ad volume normalization. This has never really been a problem for me, but apparently some people have found that Hulu’s ads play back at a higher volume than the video–annoying, for sure. Hulu fixed that little flaw.
Bigger and better video. Hulu just upped both the size and resolution of its video. It’s 25% larger, packing a resolution of 720×404. The interface is changed as well–it’s a much cleaner design, with everything disappearing unless you mouse over it. That includes the progress bar and controls–it’s a design choice called “chromeless,” and it’s so very clean.
Customization. Hulu is pulling a Netflix and getting into the personalization game, figuring out what you like and offering it to you as suggestions. Like Top Chef? You might also like After Hours With Daniel Boulud. Thanks, Hulu! I do indeed like both those shows!