Even though the YouTube hype has long since died down, everyone knows that when it comes to video streaming, there is no better site—or so it may seem. On the contrary, Hulu happens to be much more accommodating with its clutter-free pages and quaint features.
Hulu.com is an easy-to-use site where users can watch clips, movies and TV shows online without having to wait hours as they download. With just a Flash 9.0 player, visitors have free and legal access to millions of videos ranging from last week’s episode of “The Office” to highlights from “The Dark Knight.”
Although users do not need an account to watch videos and are not limited to the number they may watch at a time, this may be a site where getting one is actually worthwhile. With an account, you may rate videos and see how your critique compares to others. Additionally, you can send your favorite videos to others through email or IM, and even post them on your Facebook, Digg, Myspace or other listed websites. The links are provided and can be copy and pasted into other non-listed sites.
For each video that is hosted on Hulu there is a discussion board and a review page. Users may write a review if they wish to give more feedback instead of simply rating the video with the five star system, or discuss it with other users around the world.
A page worth visiting is the “Spotlight” page, which has links to three different featured topics that are usually related to ongoing events. For example, the “Huluween” page, dedicated to the October holiday, had a list of recommended spooky videos for those looking for a scare. On November 4, Election Day, it featured excerpts from speeches and debates, clips of political satire, and commentary videos.
The Lower Lights feature is a cute addition that dims the monitor screen excluding the video itself, giving a “movie theater effect” and allowing users to fully enjoy their video experience.
The best part of Hulu is that you can watch full episodes without much interruption. On many video streaming sites such as Youtube or Veoh, videos are posted in parts, often diminishing from the effect of the video as you struggle to find the next part. Hulu, however, has many full movies and episodes of shows.
Users are given the option of “Hi-Res” (high resolution) or “Std Res” (standard resolution), which affects the clarity of the video. Even when enlarged to full screen mode, videos are still high quality and clear.
Though most of the videos are hosted directly by Hulu, many of them are links from other websites. For these particular videos, some of the features offered by Hulu are not included and additional features are added by the host site. “Gossip Girl” episodes, for example, are linked to cwtv.com, where there are advertisements in regular intervals throughout the videos. Most of the ads are usually shorter than 30 seconds, but they may be quite irritating.
Another small downer is the fact that not all movies or videos can be found on Hulu. Many of the more recent movies such as Juno are only found in a few choppy excerpts and are not posted as full movies. Both popular and less well-known shows tend to lack completed seasons of episodes, and there are few foreign films and shows.
Despite a few imperfections, Hulu is definitely one of the better video streaming sites out there, and it is definitely a site worth seeing.