Hulu was always available to be streamed to a TV, but that often required either a hacked set-top box or a cumbersome home theater PC. Hulu even blocked their service from being used by software like Boxee (though Boxee did finagle a way around that, somewhat awkwardly). But Hulu Plus, played through a PlayStation 3, is here, and it’s the first 100% usable way to get Hulu on your TV.
Correction: A previous version of the following paragraph had a factual inaccuracy regarding the rollout of Hulu Plus devices. Sorry for the mixup.
Thanks to an exclusivity agreement, the PS3 is the only game console that’ll get Hulu Plus capability this year. So it’s a good test case to see how solid the Hulu-on-TV experience really is. The rollout of TV-outputting Hulu Plus devices is a little bit jerky for now–at the moment, only the PS3 and a select few Samsung TVs and Blu-ray decks offer it at the moment, with Sony and Vizio TVs to follow this year. Check out Hulu’s site for more info on that.
Mark Wilson of Gizmodo reviewed the app, and found it excellent, calling it a “rich, polished media app.” It’s lightning fast, the PS3 controller makes an excellent remote, and the interface is pretty and easy to navigate. All the options we’re used to on the PC version make it intact over to the PS3, including sharing, rating, and subscribing.
Of course, there are always some flaws. Hulu’s video quality, even at its best, isn’t going to blow any minds. That’s not really Hulu’s (or the PS3’s) fault, it’s just where streaming video is right now. There are also little hiccups with the volume consistency–it’s a much bigger deal when the volume is louder in a commercial than in a show when you’re pumping the sound through a massive speaker system.
Then there’s the cost. In addition to the $10 per month fee for Hulu Plus, the PS3 app is in a “preview period,” whatever that means, which requires a PlayStation Plus subscription. That subscription runs anywhere from $18 for three months to $50 per year, on top of the $10 per month. Sony says that requirement will fade away once the “preview period” is up, but who knows when that’ll be. So if you don’t have a PlayStation Plus subscription, you might find the service too expensive right now.
All in all, it sounds really promising. Hulu Plus will be invading all of our living rooms soon–and if it looks like this, we’re in for a whole lot of Arrested Development marathons.