The new Huluplus channel on Roku is now active. I dutifully signed up for plus account gave it a spin, and it frankly underwhelmed me. Yes, I already new that I would STILL have to put up with commercials even though I am already paying 8 bucks a month for the service.
I have two ROKU STBs, one of them is is hooked into a Standard Def 32in. CRT TV. Hulu looks HORRIBLE on a SD set. The fact that is not esthetically unpleasing means little to me, but I am sitting with my nose practically on the screen just trying to read the thing. It looks like they took the wide screen UI and shrunk it down until it fit on a CRT TV. A big UI no no.
I will say on my 42 in flat screen it looks AMAZING. I think they did a successful job of recreating the web UI on the HD TV. Which is a plus and a minus, because they broke some UI conventions established by the Roku to produce the new screen so it took me a minute figure out how the Navigation works, easily forgiven because it looks great.
The TV Offerings
Of the NEW TV offerings, they have that nothing isn’t available over the air. Even though News Corp. is an owner, I didn’t see anything from FX, like “Damages” or “Sons of Anarchy.” I couldn’t even see a vintage ep of “The Shield.” How is it that a service OWNED by TV networks has such a poor selection of TV shows.
The Movie Offerings
… SUCK MORE!! In all honesty it shouldn’t even be a category. There is nothing remotely interesting to the average TV/Movie watcher. Again this is a service owned by media companies that own studios. And there are NO decent movies?? AT ALL?? All they have are a few documentaries, some foreign stuff, and some REALLY old stuff and some REALLY weird stuff and Some stuff I hope my children won’t find. Which brings me to the NEXT problem…
Profiles and parental controls
There are none. I don’t want my 10 year old surfing around hulu and stumble apon (these are real titles) “Killer Condom” and “Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell.”
Web only show
This makes no sense to me. They have some shows that they will ONLY let you watch in your web browser. Even though I am paying for the right to put it on my bug screen they won’t let me. Look. I love my computer. I love all it can do. I think it is great to be able to watch TV on your computer. I have been waiting for this capability for 20 years. But Like eveybody, I prefer to watch TV ON MY TV. The fact I can’t lean back on couch and watch what’s is left of the not returning “Undercovers” on my TV after paying it’s network 8 bucks a month, is just STUPID to me.
The video quality for most of there content is good to GREAT. I watched the pilot ep from LOST and was very impressed. I don’t think I had seen it in HD before. I was startled. Not only that but you can actually get the subtitles, which is great for the, deaf hard of hearing, and those with kids. I fall in the latter category.
Technologically, it is a great product. Video quality is great. UI is great. They made improvements on the Roku UI. I can even forgive them for SD mistake. The SD model DVP isn’t even being sold by Roku anymore. But the most serious issues I have with huluplus are mistakes of will not of execution. There are things they could have done which they simply decided not to do. They decided not to let me watch every show that is available on hululplus on my TV. They decided ONLY to add shows that are available on their broadcasts networks. And limited the content of many of them. They decided not to add ANY movies I might want to see. Adding all of these factor it makes huluplus less useful, than my DVR and twice as expensive. Under those circumstances I can not recommend paying for this service, for the Roku itself. Huluplus is available on other devices in including mobile devices. If you get value that way adding is not going to cost you anything more. But if you are getting this as part of you solution to replacing cable, than I suggest you get a roof antenna and MythTV box. Which is probably what I’ll end up doing.