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Hulu Plus for Xbox 360 Review April 30, 2011

Posted by Maniac in Reviews.
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The Hulu Plus service launched on the Xbox 360 this week and due to corporate sponsorship is offering a free trial to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

I signed up for the trial last night and tried out the service for the last 12 hours watching various provided shows and movies and using as many aspects of the interface as I could.

Now, I must stress that this review is only of the Xbox 360 portion of the Hulu Plus service and not of the Internet based portions of it. I know that Hulu Plus subscribers on the 360 will get web access to the service and if you are a current Hulu Plus subscriber you can simply log into your existing account.

Signing up for a new account became almost scary at moments. You have to create a Hulu account to watch any content on the service although anyone can browse what’s offered. Oddly, you can’t create an account in the program, you must use your computer or smartphone to create an account on Hulu’s website. The program will provide you with an unlock code you can redeem a few free days of service without the need of a credit card. However, something terrifying happened while I signed up. When I redeemed the provided code and created a Hulu account the program suddenly and without user prompt froze and I started getting notifications of very suspicious generic sounding files downloading. I almost terminated the program I thought someone hacked my 360. Actually because I redeemed the code, this notified Hulu that an account was created and it was automatically setting itself up with my user account without any prompt from me. As a PC user, this kind of scared me, I want to be prompted about stuff like this, and I didn’t like the system automatically logged me in based upon just the unlock code being redeemed.

I used the program at first to search for typical shows I enjoy that I knew were provided through the Hulu service. I did like the amount of options offered of both popular and obscure shows. Unfortunately some of my more obscure tv loves were not offered, but this is no slam on the service.

What I didn’t like was that there were a lot of shows that were listed as offered by the service but not watchable on the Xbox 360. These were mostly older episodes of currently airing shows and it was annoying that I couldn’t watch some specific episodes of shows I liked. I know these episodes can be watched on Hulu’s website but if I’m paying money to watch a service only on my tv through my Xbox 360, I want to be able to watch EVERYTHING offered through the service on the Xbox 360.

I did like the fact that a lot of niche movies were made through the service. This could be the best way that most of these movies could get viewed. I enjoyed watching the film “Jedi Junkies”, which was not a film I had heard of before and probably never would have seen it had I not signed up for the service. Also I can assure you that these videos are not censored in any way. I will admit to watching a featured movie just to see how uncensored the service was. Needless to say, nothing was blurred out or beeped. I appreciate that, we are talking about an online service, the FCC’s censors have no place in it.

I also tried the Kinect features of the program and I must admit while I loved having voice command during video playback (preventing the need to pick up a controller or remote) the Kinect version of the Hulu Plus interface was extremely lacking. Any major functionality with Hulu Plus requires a controller. That said, the Kinect’s audio range is fantastic, it just won’t be able to understand you while you’re brushing your teeth.

You will only be able to access popular videos with a hand gesture interface. If you want to do a full search of the Hulu videos (and there are FAR too many options to simply list here), you’ll have to pick up a controller to go looking for them.

Finally I want to talk about video quality. I’m sitting on a 12Mbit/s service and a wired connection to my HDMI connected Xbox 360 slim, outputting in 1080p. At first I noticed my obscure shows were not coming through in HD, and the bandwidth monitor was confirming that. When I switched to alternate content that came in HD I noticed that the show I had previously watched, even though it was shot in HD and premiered on tv in HD, did not have an HD option in Hulu, and I was extremely disappointed. That said, video quality, even in standard, has been fantastic across the board, as well as the quality of the images in the interface.

Audio so far has been limited to PCM stereo. It sounds perfectly fine, but the 360 can do 5.1 Dolby Digital, I haven’t watched any content on the service that supports it.

So, for my final thoughts. It’s not a perfect system by any means but with a few tweaks it easily could be. However I do not plan on renewing my service after my trial expires, nor do I plan to register a credit card to extend the trial. There are too many other free options I have for watching this content including Crackle (which has the obscure shows I love) or even my cable provider’s On Demand, which I’m paying for anyway.

The biggest flaw to me is even though this is a paid premium service (on top of a Gold Subscription), I’m still forced to sit through commercials. There is no excuse for that.

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Comments»

1. wildflowerz - May 5, 2011

It’s not only older eppys of shows currently airing. At least half of the shows I currently watch are converting to “Web Only” for their new episodes rendering the service incredibly annoying at best. These are the same shows that were available last week when viewing Hulu through PlayOn. They aren’t available on PlayOn any more either. Put us down as definite NOs for Hulu Plus.

2. ESPN for Xbox 360 Review « gameXcess.net – Gaming News, Videos and Editorials! - July 31, 2011

[…] contrast to the Hulu Plus program I reviewed some time ago, I noticed that these games on the ESPN app do transmit in 5.1 Dolby Digital just as they do […]

3. Crackle for Xbox 360 Review « gameXcess.net – Gaming News, Videos and Editorials! - March 16, 2012

[…] which makes its money from advertising revenue.  It is completely immoral to try to be both.  That’s what Hulu Plus did when I reviewed it, and I still think […]


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