Watching TV shows on the Internet shouldn’t be any more difficult than watching them on TV. Hulu, an excellent internet TV site, proves that watching Internet TV really is simple and fun. That’s probably why it’s one of the most recognized names in the Internet TV business. It’s also part of the reason why Hulu received the TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award in our review of Internet TV services.
Hulu allows you to quickly find your favorite TV shows and movies and watch them at your leisure, all while offering a wide variety of features that make it possible to customize your viewing experience just the way you like it. Hulu is designed to give you what you want the way you want it; what more can you ask from a website?
Another feature that makes Hulu so much more preferable to use than other services is the simple but effective design of the site. One of the major sins that other Internet TV Services commit is to make the user interface look so cluttered and busy that it’s hard to know where to find what you want. Hulu’s design prefers simplicity, but still makes it easy to navigate and find all the options you want. It’s the perfect balance of simplicity and fully-featured navigation.
The biggest reason why Hulu rose to the top of our list of Internet TV Services is its wide range of content. While some other sites might have a larger number of videos, other sites can’t boast of a wider selection than Hulu. With videos from most major networks, Hulu has managed to put together a video library that can cater to any interest. Even older series that are no longer on the air are available for viewing, whether you’re seeking a little nostalgia or proving you’re the ultimate Doogie Howser fan.
Don’t be deceived; Hulu doesn’t have everything. But it does have much more than you’d expect to find. It doesn’t matter what kind of shows you’re interested in; Hulu has something for you. That’s why it’s such a great entertainment resource. You can watch what you want any time you sit down in front of the computer. Now that’s an entertaining thought in itself.
As we mentioned above, content is king and Hulu is wearing the crown. Hulu offers an incredible selection of shows and movies. In fact, Hulu’s movie library is vastly larger than any other site we reviewed. The TV show catalog doesn’t disappoint either. There are literally hundreds of show titles in the catalog, and approximately 75% of them have full episodes on file (the rest feature clips that are usually less than 5 minutes long).
These shows come from any genre you can imagine. There are the classic categories, like comedy and drama, and then there are animation, documentary, thriller, family, gaming, talk show, fitness, soap opera, technology, travel, reality, news, sports and many other categories.
Much of the content is from shows that are currently on the air. The networks allow Hulu to add the newer episodes of many shows to the library. And Hulu even promotes the new episodes. However, you can also find episodes from many older shows that are no longer on TV, ranging from less than a decade old to black-and-white era shows. Even if you aren’t familiar with some of the older shows, Hulu allows you to discover new series that you might not have known about otherwise.
Some people will be frustrated because some of the episode catalogs for certain shows are pretty sparse or they only have episodes from the latest season. While Hulu has a huge number of shows on hand, the availability of full episodes still depends on the network’s marketing plans for a certain series. For instance, if one particular series is popular enough that the network still expects to make a lot of money on DVD sales, they may not offer very many episodes.
Nevertheless, Hulu still has one of the best selections of episodes compared to the other sites we reviewed. If you’re looking for a show, you won’t go wrong by starting with Hulu.
One of the biggest highlights of using Hulu is just how simple and effective the site design is. The creators of Hulu have made it supremely easy to find what you want and play it the way you like. The site has a very clean aesthetic, no background colors or images to mar the pristine simplicity.
Hulu uses simple screenshots to represent videos and groups them into columns. When you first visit the site, there is a large banner that scrolls through simple advertisements for new videos. There are updated lists of the most popular and the highest rated videos, so you can keep up with what other people are watching. When you’re looking for a specific show, you can search by name or you can also look at an alphabetical list of all the shows in Hulu’s library.
Another thing that makes Hulu so easy to use is the video player. It operates directly in your web browser using flash player technology. This is nice because many other Internet TV Services require you to use a proprietary video player that you must download and install. Being able to play videos in your own browser without fiddling with a new program is much easier and allows you to get started watching videos as soon as you get to the site.
Hulu does a pretty good job of minimizing the advertisements when you are watching videos. The ads are far fewer than they would be if you were watching the show on TV. Nevertheless, commercials have a way of happening right when you get to the good part. Hulu mitigates this problem by lowering the number of ads and putting them in spots during the show where commercials would fall if it were on TV.
One thing that may be annoying to some viewers is the way the image ads combine with the video ads during the show. When the video is paused for a commercial, the image ad expands to fill the entire top of the screen. This can be a little startling the first time, but it’s mostly just annoying after that. Perhaps this is preferable to more video commercials, though.
You might not think that a video player needs a lot of features. But Hulu shows that the viewing experience can be improved with subtle touches. For example, Hulu allows you to “lower the lights.” Pressing this button simply dims the screen around the viewing pane. This sounds like a superfluous feature, and it isn’t imperative to watching videos, but it’s surprising how much it helps when watching long clips and full episodes. Dimming the screen around the viewing pane improves the contrast of the image and prevents eye fatigue that comes from staring at the computer screen. Another convenient feature that isn’t very common in Internet TV sites is the ability to send the video to a separate pop-out window. This is useful if you want to keep the video visible while you use other programs or surf to other sites in your web browser.
Hulu has all the other features that are common to video players. You can embed video in another site or blog, send an email invitation to view a video to your friends or save a video to your favorites so you can find it easily later.
There is quite a bit of High Definition content on Hulu, meaning that you don’t have to put up with the grainy video that you associate with Internet video. The HD videos look just as good as they would on your HDTV. Even if your computer can’t handle HD video, Hulu also gives you the opportunity to watch videos in standard TV resolutions, which is still better than many video sites’ video players.
Hulu also has simple community that allows you to share what you’ve found and review videos. If you create an account on the site, you can log in and rate videos. You can also write short reviews for videos, though other people can vote your review up or down.
Hulu offers the standard methods of support if you have trouble with the video player. The most common way to solve problems is through the FAQs. It covers most of the problems you would run into, which aren’t many because Hulu is designed to be compatible with most computers. If you have more complicated problems, you can also contact Hulu through email.
Hulu also has a nice tutorial that helps you learn how to use all the features available and find the videos you want.
Hulu made it to the top of this review because it’s so easy to find the shows you want at any time. Hulu has such a simple design and effective search feature that you won’t spend a lot of time trying to find the shows you’re looking for. Hulu also has many simple features, which aren’t essential to watching your shows, but they do make the site more convenient to use.
Ultimately, it’s the large content library that makes Hulu so good. There are shows from every era and every genre; Hulu is guaranteed to have the videos you want to watch. And that’s the whole reason you go to an Internet TV site in the first place.
You don’t need to look further than Hulu to find hours of entertainment, even if there’s nothing on TV you want to watch.
Hulu possesses a vast library of hit TV shows currently on the air.
Some popular shows are not available through the service.
Hulu pioneered the concept of watching television shows online, they have it down to a science.