Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Eye on Demand | July 26, 2017

Scroll to top

Top

Hulu Review

Hulu Review

Review Overview

Quality of Video Stream
8.5
User Interface
8
Content on Offer
8
Device Availability
9
Value for Money
8
8.3

Fantastic Content

Wouldn’t it be great if all the catch-up services in a country could be united under one umbrella, complete with both the latest episodes as well as their back catalogue? Granted, Hulu doesn’t encompass all of the American catch-up services, but it is still one of the great innovators in the subscription based on-demand market and one of the best places to catch not only the latest episodes from a variety of broadcasters, but also entire seasons as well.

To avoid future confusion, there are subtle but important differences between companies like Netflix & Amazon Prime and Hulu. Although on the surface, they may not look terribly different, Hulu is more of a unified catch-up service with a combined on-demand back catalogue, whereas Netflix focuses more on the on-demand back catalogue side of the business. Netflix and Amazon Prime contain enormous collections of television shows, but rarely the latest episodes, which is exactly where Hulu comes in. Combining television shows and seasons from NBC, FOX, ABC, TBS, (limited CBS) and many other broadcasters, Hulu operates a bit like an amalgamation of multiple catch-up services all under the one platform.

Hulu is officially only available in the US, although of course with a good smart DNS or VPN service, you can access this wherever you like, great for Americans who travel abroad often or expats who miss their favourite shows from back home.

 

Hulu Free or Plus: To subscribe or not?

Which brings us to the two different models of service Hulu offer. Free (simply known as Hulu) or Subscription (known as Hulu Plus, although to confuse things, Hulu have started omitting the Plus). It won’t come as any surprise to know you get more when you pay your US$7.99 per month for Hulu Plus, so this is a basic rundown of the advantages.

  • Greater hardware support: Free Hulu will only play on a computer, but Hulu Plus also supports a large range of set-top boxes, smart phones, tablets, and various other devices such as the Apple TV, Roku box, and gaming consoles through to television smart hubs.
  • Greater range of content: Free Hulu provides a limited selection of titles, unlike Hulu Plus which offers their full range. This can include entire seasons of a television show, as well as many more films. Free Hulu often only offers the last 5 or so recent episodes.
  • New television shows can be available within 24 hours from broadcast airing on Hulu Plus, unlike free Hulu where you may have to wait a week.
  • Free Hulu is only available in SD or lower, whereas Hulu Plus offers many titles in HD.
  • Hulu Plus gives you access to additional Spanish programming through Univision.

What should be pointed out, is that you will still find commercials on Hulu Plus – the $7.99 subscription fee does not mean less advertising or having them removed altogether. That said, there are considerably fewer commercials on Hulu than current American television networks.

If this is really an issue for you, Hulu will remove all ads for an extra $4 per month. This means a $12 monthly fee will get you the highest level of Hulu Plus, (almost) completely ad-free (some shows were not able to remove pre-roll ads due to licensing issues). It is also possible to add an extra Showtime pack as well for $8.99 per month (in addition to any Hulu fees).

Quality ButtonVideo quality on Hulu can range from average to extremely good, but lets be clear here, the premium material Hulu offers is generally of the extremely good variety, often enough presented in HD. From my experience at least, only the rather poorer quality productions are streaming in lower than SD quality. At it’s best, I tested Hulu plus exceeding an average of 6000kbps, but the quality varied dramatically between platforms. This is extremely good for an on-demand service, and clearly 1080p HD.

Previously, Hulu offered a confusing collection of Queue, Favorites, Bookmarks and Playlists to keep track of your personal content. Actually they still do, but you can now also select a much more logical Watchlist system instead, which combines everything into a single view, and orders them according to your viewing habits, learning each time you watch more shows. The new Watchlist is opt-in only at the moment, and not available over all platforms. But if you are interested, head here, I highly recommend switching over, since the older alternative is rather complicated.

Finally, there’s platform support, and Hulu sits in the same league as Netflix and the BBC iPlayer – essentially, pretty much any device you can throw at it. If it streams, and it is available in the US, Hulu is likely to have an app for it. But not all platforms are the same as we discovered in our tests. iPads offer up to 5x the video quality as comparable Android tablets, and the Apple TV has double the quality of the Roku channel, so make your decision wisely!

 

  • Content on Hulu could be a discussion entirely on it’s own. Its greatest strength is in its television library, where in many cases it holds its ground over most of its competitors – at least in the subscription category. Hulu has the advantage over Netflix, Amazon Prime and other similar services in that it contains many new release material often added hours after traditional airing. In this way it operates a bit like a UK catch-up service. But it may also hold the back catalogue for all previous seasons as well. This makes it fantastic to start a series right from the beginning and watch all the way to the latest episodes, which considering how fast the American television industry can churn them out, this can amount to quite a lot of available content to watch!

    It should be pointed out though that not every season is complete. In many cases, Hulu may only have the latest season of a television show, and although it tries to acquire the rights to hold the season in it’s entirety, there are some situations where it could not achieve this, even within the Hulu Plus package.

    Movie Button

    Films also exist on Hulu, but if you are after the latest blockbuster releases, this is not one of Hulu’s strongest qualities. Many people would find Netflix or Amazon Prime having the advantage here, not to mention PPV services like Vudu or iTunes better for new releases. The added disadvantage of commercial breaks in a film is another put-off for many people.

    Then again, Hulu does offer something rather special in the film stakes – The Criterion Collection, in which Hulu Plus are the exclusive on-demand providers. If you are a film aficionado, then the Criterion Collection will be quite familiar to you. For those yet unaware, the Criterion Collection are distributors of amazing classic, contemporary and art-house films generally aimed at the Cinephiliac amongst us. And with Hulu Plus being their exclusive on-line distributors, this surprisingly enough makes Hulu Plus one of the best places to catch art-house films anywhere on the web.

    With a phenomenal range of the latest American television episodes available for catch-up, along with series from around the world, Hulu has an enormous wealth of content on offer, and this is also reflected in their selection of films. Why not browse through their current selection yourself by looking through the titles below. If you have a Tank Top TV account, you can even add selected shows to your Watchlist, and these will appear beside your choices from other UK & US services.

     

  • www.hulu.com
    There is more reason to visit Hulu’s web portal than most on-demand and catch-up services, since for Hulu’s free users, this is the only possible way to watch their content. Overall, there is no good reason to avoid it. Hulu have adopted a clean, modern and bright feel to their website, which makes browsing a pleasure, account control easy, and above all, watching content as pleasant as it can be on such a platform.

    Browsing is the main goal of Hulu’s Home page, and here you will find an almost endless compilation of opportunities. Lists include what is Trending, Popular Episodes, by Network, Top 25 Clips, as well as additional collections and recommendations of various sorts – the list is almost endless. And to be honest, this is not such a bad thing. One of the most complex issues confronting the on-demand user today is finding quality content. Don’t let it go unsaid that life can’t be difficult in the 21st century.

    Another reason you may end up back at Hulu’s web browser is that a few shows Hulu offers only come with streaming rights via a browser. As crazy as it sounds, this is still the situation within a paywall, with The Simpsons being quite a high profile case. Finally you may have the chance to catch up on the latest episode of the Simpsons, but be forced to watch on your swivel chair and laptop.

    Video quality was average to good, with our own tests hovering around 3920kbps*.

    Platform Pros:

    • Best place to control account details.
    • Good quality video streams.
    • Largest range of content over any of Hulu’s platform.
    • Great for easy browsing of titles.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.

    Platform Cons:

    • Still nothing more than a browser interface.
    • Sofa unfriendly UI.
    • Desktop app is not worth downloading.
    • No Chromecast support.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Thumbnail BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • Hulu’s Samsung TV app follows the same basic layout as most of their other STB apps, with the exception of the Apple TV, so expect a similar experience here as on the Roku box, AFTV, or PS4. In any event, this widget is a classic example of how to create a functional Samsung Smart TV widget. It’s fast, responsive and works at all levels – even on older devices.

    As is so often the case, the front screen offers the latest recommendations slideshow, which in the case of Hulu is certainly worth a pause to sit through or navigate. There is so much content on Hulu that anything like this can be of great help in finding new shows to watch.

    You can also search directly within the home screen in the provided search field, which incidentally will search by not only title, but also actor and network. I tested this out to great success by just entering “Karl”, in reference to Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, one of the presenters of the ABC (Australia) science show, Sleek Geeks, something suitably obscure, though well worth watching. The search easily found the programme from that keyword alone, and I was able to begin the first episode within seconds.

    Underneath the recommendations slideshow are your main categories, TV, Movies, Trailers, Kids, etc, of which all can be drilled down deeper by sub-categories and genres. Finding content has never been easier.

    Directly below the first level of categories is your Watchlist if you opted in for the improved way of handling and managing your content. For binges, there is even a simple “Watch All” button in which playback will start from the beginning and play everything in your Watchlist. The idea being that the new “smart” Watchlist will play it all in the order you would have chosen anyway.

    Quality ButtonVideo quality is very good, but not amongst the best of Hulu’s platforms. What is a pleasant surprise, is that you can manually set the bitrate either globally at the Settings menu, or for each show by using the up button on the remote. I found the adaptive bitrate didn’t reach the levels that I should have seen, so a manual setting improved things. When manually set to 3.2 Mb/s, my measured average was indeed 3210kbps. It is worth noting this was around half of what I tested via the Apple TV which exceeded 6500kbps.

    As with the Roku channel, Samsung’s Hulu Plus widget offers the same fantastic FFW/REW or scrubbing. Fast, responsive and easy to use thanks to the small thumbnails to guide you. Trust me, it is amazing how few Samsung widgets get this right, yet Hulu have proved it’s certainly possible.

    Platform Pros:

    • Great video quality.
    • Ability to set bitrate manually from auto or a low of 650kbps to 3200kbps.
    • Great user interface and one of the best on the Samsung Smart Hub.
    • Fantastic FFW/REW or scrubbing.
    • Fast and responsive.
    • Resume, Queue and Favourites all possible.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.

    Platform Cons:

    • Samsung Smart Hub is not quite as responsive as the Roku3 box.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Hulu Samsung

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • As always with an Apple TV app, Hulu is a pleasure to use. After firing up the app on the little black box, the first thing you are greeted with are scrolling Hulu recommendations, your last watched shows and the familiar, never ending lists of various genres and collections as you move down the screen.

    At the very top is also a basic menu with more categories such as search, settings and the new fandangled Watchlist. Finding content to watch is always difficult when there is so much on offer, but Hulu go to quite some lengths to make it easy.

    Sub-categories, such as drilling down the movies hub to the Criterion Collection will bring up even more options, such as Nail Biters, French Actresses or even Bad Romance. The collections are really quite something.

    Video quality with Hulu on the Apple TV was the highest we measured, although the average was only a smidgen above the Nexus Player and Amazon Fire TV, it was significantly higher than the Roku box. HD streams thundered their way through our Ethernet port averaging 6525 kbps* at their best, and looked stunning on a 40″ screen.

    There is little to complain about regarding Hulu’s Apple TV app. It may not offer the greatest number of features, but what it does, it does well.

    Platform Pros:

    • Clean and functional user interface.
    • High quality video playback. (Hulu’s highest we tested)
    • Fast and responsive.
    • Easy resume of previously watched content.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.

    Platform Cons:

    • Not the most feature rich, though not lacking anything serious.
    • Not the best implementation of FFW & REW.
    • No scrubbing thumbnails.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • Hulu Plus provides one of the most comprehensive and well designed iOS apps available for any on-demand or catch-up service. If you want an example of form meeting function, this app is a good place to start.

    This review generally looks at the iPad app, which in my mind is clearly the better of the two. At some stage Hulu seemed to have completely altered and ruined the iPhone version, replacing the previously easy to use platform with the new one that bears no resemblance to anything else Hulu seem to be doing.

    On the other hand, Hulu’s design of their iPad app is excellent, with well thought out placement of options and the ease to drill down to find content. Like many of Hulu’s other platforms, a good deal of the home screen is taken up by their recommendation slide show. You can however easily scroll down to concentrate on collections and other browsing suggestions.

    In either case, just tap on a show for more detailed information or to play the first or next available episode, otherwise tap the episode button to browse the entire season.

    A small button at the very top/left hand side will bring up your main menu, where you can always access your Watchlist or begin drilling down by categories. In fact, browsing has taken a leap forward with the ability to (sort of) multitask. By this, you can remain watching a television show or film in the lower left hand corner whilst browsing for more content. Maybe not the best thing to do when trying to watch a major feature film, but it could come in handy if the content you are watching is starting to bore you a bit.

    A nice thought is the Resume reminder, which is not obtrusive, but neatly found at the bottom of the home screen when you first fire up the app. Selecting this will take you back to the last place on a previously unfinished programme.

    Most iOS apps are pretty easy to scrub along by dragging the progress bar to any point in the video. Hulu however, take this one step further with scrubbing thumbnails, not too dissimilar to what they offer via Roku. It is pretty impressive to be able to use this on an iOS video drag-bar though, and can make it extremely easy to find exactly the point you want in the video.

    Another nifty feature is when you pause; The screen dims and programme details pop up, fantastic if you have a bad memory, but if not terribly useful, it still looks pretty good.

    Video quality is stunning, with television shows averaging 3460kbps* on my tests, and movies as high as 6510kbps*. This is quite frankly excellent, and it shows when airplaying across to the big-screen TV. Sadly, Chromecast streams are not as high, and as soon as I switched over to Chromecast, that 6510kbps stream dropped to an average of 2910kbps* . It still looked excellent, but on larger screens the lower resolution may be noticed.

    It took Hulu a long time to add AirPlay, but now that they have, they done it right – at least including the full standard set with multitasking support. This means once your show begins playing, you can use other apps on the iPad or iPhone, or even switch it off and the video will happily remain playing on your television.

    Platform Pros:

    • Beautiful and well designed layout and user interface.
    • Ease of access to your unfinished shows.
    • Split-screen to watch and browse at the same time.
    • Some of the best scrubbing on iOS.
    • Love the pause info display.
    • Episode badges on shows you watch for instant notification.
    • AirPlay with Multitasking. (No mirroring required).
    • Includes Chromecast support.
    • Includes remote control for PS3, PS4 & Xbox One.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.
    • Stunning video quality.

    Platform Cons:

    • No offline downloads.
    • iPhone app is confusing compared to iPad version.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.
    • Chromecast quality is not as high.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON AirPlay BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

     

  • As of June 2013, Hulu’s Roku Channel finally began to take on the standard UI experience of other set-top-boxes, a major improvement from their previous version. That slow start aside, the Roku box was amongst the first to also use Hulu’s new combined Watchlist feature (by pressing *). But oddly, the elegance of the app falls slightly when Roku’s old UI ever-so-briefly peeks its head in through the crypt-door after pressing the asterisks button.

    For much of the rest of Hulu’s Roku channel, it resembles what you’ll find on most other set-top-boxes and Smart TVs, with the obvious exception of the Apple TV.

    That said, unfortunately, unlike the Samsung Smart TV hub (which was released before the new Roku update), there is no way to manually control the video quality. And here we find a significant difference between Roku and many other platforms. Whilst the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Nexus Player all offer 1080p streams exceeding 6000kbps, Hulu’s Roku channel only averaged 3290kbps*, which clearly sits in the realms of 720p HD.

    To be honest, this is a little disappointing since the Roku box is clearly capable of 1080p.

    Other than that, and the odd 90’s looking menu that still pops up every now and again, it works extremely well, even offering proper FFW & REW thumbnails and all the other mod-cons one expects from the service.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fast and responsive UI (based on Roku3 device).
    • Excellent FFW/REW and scrubbing.
    • High quality video streams.
    • Easy to access previously watched or queued material.
    • Resume feature.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.

    Platform Cons:

    • No manual override for video quality.
    • 720p HD only (no 1080p was measured).
    • Requires Smart DNS to be installed on the router if accessing outside the US.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • Sony’s PlayStation 4 platform holds no real surprises with the same excellent user interface found on most newer devices these days, minus the new Watchlist option. (The older method of Favorites, Queues and recently watched are still in use)

    The home page lists the usual main sections, but there are also a couple of surprising ones as well: TV, Movies, Trailers, Kids, the Queue, Originals, Video Games, History, Latino, British, Settings and Help & Info.

    No, History isn’t a genre, it is where you can find your previously watched material!

    These sections are only the tip of the iceberg, as each one opens a plethora of additional collections. Collections can be as clear as Trending Now or Popular Shows, or as obscure as A Dish Best Served Cold, but often the more vague, the greater the hidden gems that reside inside.

    FFW and REW are technically limited to just scrubbing, but like many other Hulu platforms, far above the average, with thumbnails clearly showing exactly where you are within a television show or film, making it extremely easy to navigate and find exactly what you want.

    Regarding the rest of the DualShock utilization, it is quite simplified with less options that most other services, and the usual game console issue that unlike a good old-fashioned remote, two hands are generally required to operate it.

    PS4 Hulu Controller

    Like the Roku box, the PS4 app doesn’t stream in full 1080p, with an average bitrate tested at 3190kbps. This is considerably lower than the Apple TV which exceeded 6500kbps, and the AFTV, Nexus and most crucially, the Xbox One which averaged over 6200kbps. It is quite surprising to be honest, especially considering how much horsepower is under the PS4 hood – this is clearly the most capable of all platforms tested here, and certainly more than capable of streaming 1080p. It just goes to show not all platforms are the same.

    Tip: If you have multiple PlayStation profiles (i.e. to install content from another region or different people in your home), you will have to log in to register a separate device for each profile. It may pay to define a base account to use Hulu Plus to avoid this, although there are no indications yet that associating a device for each profile will cause issues.

    SecondScreen Remote Control For Hulu Plus

    Hulu Remote iPhoneAs an added bonus, if you are an Android or iOS smart phone owner, you can also control Hulu Plus directly from the device in a Chromecast-style service. It’s not quite as nifty as Chromecast as you first need to fire up the Playstation 4 (or Playstation 3 for that matter), and start Hulu Plus on both platforms. But if you are in the same network you should see a casting button on your mobile device that will offer to stream the content directly from your Playstation.

    You can use the mobile app effectively as a remote control, but as it is fully multitasking like Chromecast, you can use the phone or tablet for other purposes, switch it entirely off or even remove from the network (though that does have a habit of confusing things a bit when you bring it back). And unlike Chromecast, you can easily still use the normal controlling device, in this case the DualShock if you forget which mobile device initiated the stream – a major flaw of Chromecast.

     

    Platform Pros:

    • Same great standard UI as found on many other devices.
    • Easy to access previously watched or queued material.
    • Resume supported.
    • Cross-platform support.
    • Good video quality.
    • Can Switch off Autoplay
    • Excellent FFW and REW via scrubbing with thumbnails.
    • SecondScreen Remote Control for Hulu Plus.

    Platform Cons:

    • New Watchlist is not yet available.
    • Only 720p HD (No 1080p).
    • Controller requires two-handed operation.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTONThumbnail BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • One of the first things I noticed when I fired up the Hulu Plus app on the Xbox One, was that unlike most other catch-up or on-demand Xbox One apps, it retained it’s own user interface rather than the Xbox One’s standard tiled design. And in my mind, this is a good thing.

    Sure, some other services have benefited from the Xbox One’s tiled interface, but certainly not everything (<<cough>> Netflix) and when a UI is as good as the one developed by Hulu, why mess with it?

    So, without wanting to repeat myself through every review tab, expect almost an identical portal to that found on the latest Roku boxes, PlayStation 4 and Smart TVs, utilizing a beautiful, vertical and horizontal scrolling interface that makes browsing an absolute pleasure.

    Hulu Plus Xbox One HomeResponse to users selections are fast on this platform, as should be expected considering the power under the Xbox’s hood, and all your favourites and history will be brought across from any other platform you have used. It’s worth mentioning here then that the Xbox One doesn’t yet offer the new Watchlist feature, but still uses the older method of Queues and Favorites.

    Video quality is as stunning as the best tested through any of the other devices, with 1080p streams averaging 6240kbps*, which will come as a bitter pill to PlayStation 4 owners where I couldn’t stream above 720p and 3190kbps*.

    Add to this, like many other Xbox One apps, you have the ability to pin your favourite shows directly to the console’s Home screen, making it incredibly quick and easy to resume your favourite programmes.

    I was a bit disappointed however that there were only FFW and REW options, and no scrubbing. I really love the scrubbing feature found in Netflix’s app, but on the positive side, it does include thumbnails to assist exactly where you are in a film or TV show.

    What’s really cool about the Xbox One as a streaming platform are the options available to control your apps, and regarding Hulu Plus there are no less than six ways to control the catch-up service, each with their own preferences and advocates.

    Voice: One of the coolest ways to control Hulu Plus is by voice, and this can be started directly from the Xbox One’s Home screen. In fact, if you pin your favourite shows to the Xbox Home screen, you can begin playback of an episode with only a couple of basic commands. What makes this cool is that it is the closest our living rooms can get to being on the Enterprise. It’s possible to pause, continue, stop, and browse television shows purely by voice, and it even works with fast forward and rewinding, but good luck for keyword searches. Voice control though can be finicky. When it works, it does so with grace and style and really makes it seem like the future is here to stay. But it fails on enough occasions that we soon realize how far we still are from life in a Star Trek episode.

    Motion Control: Alternatively, you can wave your hands around in a ridiculous fashion. I haven’t been a big fan of the Xbox One’s motion control, but I have to admit it is slowly getting better. Don’t expect it to work more than 50% of the time still, and your arm may soon tire of navigating Hulu’s vast library. So expect a bit of hair pulled out with this one method, but if it works for you then great.

    Xbox Controller: Probably the easiest way to control Hulu Plus is via the Xbox controller. The only real downsides here are the awkward shape for such a simple operation, and the problem that it will go into hibernation after a while – still, if you urgently need to pause, you can always yell it out. Otherwise the controller is a pleasant way to navigate and control Hulu, and at least for navigating, one of the best. Here is a quick guide to the controller for Hulu:

    Hulu Controller

    SmartGlass: The Xbox’s SmartGlass concept has so much enormous potential, almost all of which has been completely wasted on this particular app. What could have been a near perfect touch screen remote, has been reduced to pretty much nothing more that the worst designed controller you could possibly think of. There is no second-screen information, no details of the currently playing show, or any real use of social media. The only consolation I can think of is that unlike most other services, I actually managed to get the virtual keyboard to work when searching – and this makes a difference.

    Programmable remote: If all else fails, you can always resort to a programmable remote such as the Logitech Harmony, and return back to the retro pleasures of horizontal sofa laziness. Once set up, it will work a dream, but be prepared for a lot of hair-loss during configurations, especially if you are competing with voice control to also switch on your Xbox and TV

    Second Screen Remote Control for Hulu Plus: As an added bonus, if you are an Android or iOS smart phone owner, you can also control Hulu Plus directly from the device in a Chromecast-style service. It’s not quite as nifty as Chromecast as you first need to fire up the Xbox One, and start Hulu Plus on both platforms. But if you are in the same network you should see a casting button on your mobile device that will offer to stream the content directly from your Xbox.

    You can use the mobile app effectively as a remote control, but as it is fully multitasking like Chromecast, you can use the phone or tablet for other purposes, switch it entirely off or even remove from the network (though that does have a habit of confusing things a bit when you bring it back). And unlike Chromecast, you can easily still use the normal controlling device, in this case any of the above methods if you forget which mobile device initiated the stream – a major flaw of Chromecast.

    So why doesn’t the Xbox One Hulu app take the best platform title, what with so many controlling options and the fantastic ability to pin shows directly to your screen? Well, no real reason really. I just love the simplicity of the AFTV box. Sometimes even I don’t need my gadgets to go all whizz-bang around me – that and I hate my controller going to sleep before I do.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fast and responsive UI.
    • Standard Hulu Plus User Interface.
    • Great video quality.
    • Multiple methods to control the app, incl. voice & gestures.
    • SmartGlass Keyboard actually works.
    • Ability to pin shows to the Xbox One’s home screen.
    • Thumbnail’s during FFW & REW.

    Platform Cons:

    • Controller falls asleep and requires two handed application.
    • SmartGlass is otherwise poorly implemented.
    • Voice and gesture control does not always cut it.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.
    • Doesn’t offer new Watchlist feature.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • This review was tested on a Chromecast using an iPad as the controlling device.

    For the most part, Chromecast utilizes the user interface from the platform controlling it, in which case this is currently either an Android or iOS app. The only difference now is that a small Chromecast button also appears if a device is within the network.

    Which means at least for this review, refer to the iOS tab for an overview of the general user interface.

    That aside, there are two methods to implement chromecasting, the first is a global setting, activated by pressing the Chromecast button almost always found at the top of the iPad or iPhone screen, with the second option selecting directly from the playback window.

    There is not a lot of difference between either method, with the only main point being that if you select the global button, a basic flash-screen indicating that Hulu Plus is ready to chromecast appears on the TV screen, and any time you begin a programme, it will automatically play on the TV by default.

    Chromecast HuluPlus

    This differs from the playback button where only that specific show will chromecast to the main TV.

    Video quality varies as it usually does with Hulu Plus, and of the various shows I tested, I averaged anything between 2230kbps* and 3423kbps* depending on the series. This places it between an enhanced SD to 720p HD stream.

    So what happens to the mobile device after the live stream begins? Well, in my option it’s a bit more confusing than some other apps. If you end up in the info section, which is where playback often begins, you would hardly know from your mobile controlling screen you are actually playing back via the Chromecast.

    There is a small window in the bottom left which does indicate this, but outside of the pause button, all other controls are greyed out. Tapping on the dimmed controls brings them back to life, and now you will also find a scrubbing timeline complete with thumbnails, a 10second backwards jump button and a closed caption button, although missing is the usual volume control.

    If you close that controlling window it will also stop the stream, but generally speaking, playing back through a Chromecast, you can continue to browse Hulu Plus without affecting the video. In fact, you can use the iPad for something else, switch it off, or even remove it entirely from the network. You don’t actually need the iOS device at all anymore, well, except to stop the stream.

    Don’t get too lost and forget which app started the video, otherwise it could be a little confusing on how to return to controlling playback.

    Platform Pros:

    • Fantastic and easy way to stream Netflix content to a TV from Android or Apple without the need of AirPlay.
    • Full multitasking on the mobile device used for controlling.
    • Very good video quality.
    • Easy to use.
    • Includes all of the great features of Hulu Plus’s mobile platforms.
    • Affordable way to get Hulu Plus onto your main TV.

    Platform Cons:

    • No way to easily stop the show without finding you way back to the exact spot in the Hulu Plus app.
    • A tad confusing when first starting a show.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu Plus via Chromecast outside of the US may require a Smart DNS service configured on your router along with some method of blocking Google’s own DNS servers)

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • The following app has been tested on a Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 running KitKat 4.4. Due to the enormous fragmentation of the Android ecosystem, features, availability and UI may vary dramatically between devices.

    It could be said that the Android tablet version of Hulu Plus closely resembles that of the iPad, and for the most part this is true – which is a good thing. Both tablet versions offer some the best concepts in UI design for streaming services, and the Android app is just as easy to browse and navigate around.

    Once content begins playing, a handy Resume button always sits at the bottom of the screen if you leave playback to browse other shows, although it doesn’t offer the split-screen mode that the iPad has. The handy Resume button is also useful of course when casting to a Chromecast device.

    Even the new Watchlist is available here, which is a godsend when compared to the older Queue/Favourites method.

    About the only important thing missing from the Android app, besides AirPlay of course, is exactly the same thing omitted from the iOS one as well, offline downloads. Granted, this still isn’t exactly common-place around the world yet, but imagine how handy it would be when traveling.

    All that said, there is a big difference between the Android app and iOS version, and that’s video quality. Whilst I managed to stream a stunning 6510kbps* through the iPad, the best I could muster on the Android tablet was 1220kbps* – that’s five times lower and the poorest video quality tested over any of Hulu’s platforms. All that said, it actually looks ok on the small tablet screen, and since there is no AirPlay on Android, it may not be seen as required – but it is still rather low.

    Platform Pros:

    • Beautiful and well designed layout and user interface.
    • Ease of access to your unfinished shows.
    • Scrubbing option.
    • Includes Chromecast support.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.

    Platform Cons:

    • No offline downloads.
    • Lowest video quality yet tested on all Hulu platforms.
    • Does not offer Split-screen mode as on iOS.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.
    • Chromecast quality is not as high.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTONSD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

  • Best 2Considering that the Hulu app on the Amazon Fire TV is pretty much the same as that found on Smart TVs and most other set-top-boxes, what makes it deserve the Best Choice award?

    For the most part, this is due to the platform itself. We love the AFTV box here at Eye on-Demand. Not only does it have enough grunt internally to power everything smoothly and flawlessly, along with some of the highest quality 1080p streams and voice search (only as standard on the Amazon Fire TV Box), but the fact we can also mix apps from other regions onto the single hub just turns this box into almost the Smart DNS dream-machine.

    The Hulu Plus app is simply stunning on this tiny box, offering all the latest features as well, including the new Watchlist which is so much easier to use than the previous Queue/Favourites method.

    Hulu Plus is also one of the few 3rd party apps that actually functions with the AFTV’s great voice search feature. Unlike so many other attempts at voice recognition, the AFTV’s one actually works. If you press the mic button and hold, you can call up searches simply by speaking the name of the show, movie, actor or even Hulu Plus! Just look carefully, as Amazon will sometimes highlight access to their own streams first, even if it means promoting a rental despite it being available under a Hulu sub. (Thanks to AFTVNews for help and info on this feature!)

    Video quality is quite simply stunning, with 1080p streams reaching an average of 6210kbps*. Not all platforms Hulu supports offer quality this high, so it is yet again another great reason to love this app.

    All up, this is definitely our favourite platform to access Hulu Plus.

    Platform Pros:

    • Stunning video quality.
    • Great user interface.
    • Fantastic FFW/REW or scrubbing.
    • Fast and responsive.
    • Includes new Watchlist if opted in.
    • Voice search works with Hulu!

    Platform Cons:

    • Voice search orders Amazon content before Hulu.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    This service is geographically unblocked on this platform by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”18165″]

     

     

     

     

     

     

  • The Nexus Player is the new breed of official Android TVs. Where Google messed up royally on the original Google TV, the updated version, then yet again with the spectacular failure of the bizarre Nexus Q, if it wasn’t for the success of the Chromecast dongle, humanity may have lost faith in streaming television via a Google device.

    But the Nexus Player (confusingly also known as Android TV, but not to be confused with unofficial Android TVs) may have finally got it right.

    For the most part, the UI is the same as all the other major set-top-boxes, with the obvious exception of the Apple TV where they clearly go their own way. At this stage, the new Watchlist feature has yet to be implemented, which means the older Queue/Favorites method will still need to be grappled with.

    Otherwise there is nothing to complain about with the platform. Video quality was up there with the other 1080p performers – the AFTV, Xbox One and Apple TV, with streams averaging in my own tests around 6210kbps*. This quality looked absolutely stunning on my 40″ reference TV, and I quite simply couldn’t fault it.

    But there is another trick up this tiny little black-pucks sleeve, and that is it works like a Chromecast stick as well. If you are watching anything on Hulu’s Android or iOS mobile apps, you can use it to cast directly to the Nexus Player as if it were a Chromecast device itself – just don’t forget to shut down a stream if you switch the TV off, as it is easy to forget.

    At the time of publication, the Nexus Player didn’t have a lot of worthwhile native on-demand apps built in, with Hulu’s sitting alongside Netflix and Crackle as the only big players available. But there was of course plenty of other opportunities when taking chromecasting into account.

    Platform Pros:

    • Stunning video quality.
    • Great user interface.
    • Fantastic FFW/REW or scrubbing.
    • Fast and responsive.
    • Acts as a Chromecast as well.

    Platform Cons:

    • New Watchlist feature is not yet available.
    • Requires Hulu Plus subscription.

    (Accessing Hulu outside of the United States may require a smart DNS or VPN service)

    On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    If you represent a Smart DNS company that supports Hulu on the AFTV, contact us now to have your service represented here!

  • Singing into Hulu is a breeze if you are currently within the US, or if you are an American abroad with a US address and US credit card at your convenience – Smart DNS or VPN service aside. If you don’t have an American credit card then things can be a little more complex. There are a few ways to get around this, with a number of companies on the internet selling Hulu subscription cards and sending them overseas.

    An alternative way to subscribe to Hulu is through iTunes if you own or have access to an Apple TV. You can then easily create a free trial with Hulu using an American iTune account (See here for instructions on creating an iTunes account in a different country). When you sign up for your free week’s trial at Hulu, simply link your American iTunes account and within moments you will be watching Hulu on your Apple TV. You will have to accept an email request to confirm your new subscription and account to access on other devices, but that is easy enough.

    Remember though, this will only last a week and Hulu is not free. An easy way to continue is to simply top up your American iTunes account with funds, and this can be done with a US iTunes gift card. You will need to use an American one for the US store, but there are online companies that offer this and will email your iTunes voucher code within minutes. They cost a tad more than the original cards, but you should expect this as they have to make their own markup. Alternatively, if you have a friend in the US who can purchase an iTunes card for you, then you could ask them to email you the code.

    Cancelling from Hulu is as easy as with Netflix or Amazon Prime. Simply stop the automatic renewal and your subscription will continue only to the end of your paid month.


  • Offering a great user interface, impressive platform support and very good video quality, there is no wonder Hulu is so popular and sort after both inside and outside of the US. Quite simply, it offers an amazing and up-to-date library of primarily American television with a smattering of films. Americans may not have the wealth of great free catch-up portals that bless the British Isles, but nor do the British have a one-stop shop for the latest catch-up under a single umbrella that Hulu Plus offers (well, outside of FreeView that is, but that is a completely different beast).

    Although I rarely have issues with advertisements on a commercial FTA service, I normally am suspicious of ads on a paid subscription service. After-all, isn’t that why we invest into a paid, rather than free service? There is no question that Hulu’s decision to include commercials ruffle a few feathers. That said, I feel it can be defended here due to both the selling point of Hulu itself and its current competitive price point. Hulu charges approximately the same fee per month as Netflix, yet unlike Netflix it can offer the latest television episodes only a few short days old. Without commercials to help sponsor this, Hulu would have to increase its monthly charge.

    And at the end of the day, as far as television programming goes it’s not too bad. Because of the advertisements, Hulu may not be the most ideal place to watch Films (with the exception of the amazing Criterion Collection). However, it is a brilliant platform to watch television. Who cares if there are a few commercials to sit through before and during a television show, at US$7.99 a month you get a lot of great American programming, including many entire series right up to the latest episode.

    Thumbnail BUTTON On-Demand - BUTTON Catch-up BUTTON Watchlist BUTTON Time Bar BUTTON SD BUTTON HD BUTTON Resume BUTTON Recently Watched BUTTON Episode log BUTTON Cross Platform BUTTON Chromecast BUTTON Back Catalogue BUTTON AirPlay BUTTON

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Pros:

    • Excellent video quality.
    • Cross platform functionality for Resume & Watchlist.
    • Generally speaking, excellent user interface.
    • Excellent browsing features.
    • Great value for money when you take into account the back catalogue.
    • Excellent hardware support.
    • Exclusive access to amazing Criterion Collection.
    • Supports AirPlay.
    • Supports Chromecast
    • Supports SecondScreen remote control via Smart Phone/Tablet.
    • AFTV Voice search is supported.
    • Showtime plugin possible for additional $9 per month.

    Cons:

    • No offline downloads for mobile devices.
    • Not all of the most recent seasons are complete.
    • Latest CBS shows are not available.
    • Confusing array of Favorites, Queues and Bookmarks.
    • Outside of the Criterion Collection, movie content is not the best.
    • $4 extra for an ad-free experience.

    Log:

    22.04.2013: Review published. Score: 8 – Fantastic content.

    07.06.2013: Updated review with Roku platform added.

    18.06.2013: Additional statistics added to Technical Details.

    27.06.2013: Updated Samsung Smart widget.

    08.08.2013: Updated iOS app brings new features such as improved scrubbing.

    07.10.2013: Major iOS update offering AirPlay. Score updated to 8.2

    20.01.2014: Update adding PlayStation 4 review tab.

    07.02.2014: Updated with new Xbox One review tab.

    30.03.2014: Updated with Chromecast review tab.

    25.04.2014: Major update updating each review.

    20.08.2014: Added TankTop TV Listings.

    20.02.2015: Major overhaul, adding Nexus Player, Android and AFTV reviews, whilst updating all the others. Score increased to 8.3 due to improved video quality and platform support.

    03.09.2015: Added new information regarding ad-free service.

    Found this review helpful? Why not like us on Facebook and help others find it?

Comments

  1. Fatih

    Hi Jo’,

    Thanks for the update for hulu plus smart tv widget.

    But my experience with the new widget has been negative so far. It constantly buffers even with less than sd quality streams. I wish I could downgrade the widget.

    So, a word of warning for people with samsung smart tv.

    • I had exactly the same problem, and the buffering was with both the new version and the old one (I kept a copy of the old widget, renamed it and also installed it on the TV). However, it seems that even a newer version is available from the Samsung app store now. Just before the review update, I downloaded this latest widget and finally the buffering was gone. Before this, the widget was unusable. However, I have not had any issues with the new one.

  2. Fatih

    What’s the version number of the hulu plus widget you are using?
    Mine is 3.004 and it buffers a lot
    Thanks

    • Hi Faith, I’m also on 3.004 but I’m not getting any buffering any more. I’m testing on a ES-6900 series TV, can I ask which model you are using? There maybe a problem with certain models still. Have you checked if Hulu Plus works fine on any other devices that you have? (Just trying to narrow down points). Also, are anyone else still having buffering issues, or have they been resolved with the latest Hulu widget?

      If you like, I can email you an earlier version of the widget, as I still have one on backup. You will need to follow these instructions here, and this only works on ES-series TVs.

  3. Thanks for sharing Jo! I love Hulu plus especially because I can watch the latest Family Guy episodes 1 day after they air. If you live outside USA like me, you can use UnoTelly or other similar tools to access Hulu Plus overseas.