Hulu.com is offering free movies on demand through the browser. This is made possible by the efforts of NBC and News Corp. Here now a quick look at how Hulu changes the online video-on-demand picture:
Not too long ago, I would have told you that video over the Internet was a little more than a dream. Grainy, postage stamp-sized windows, endless rebuffering, and choppy, out-of-sync audio was the typical experience–given that there was another electronic box in the living room called a “television,” Internet video hardly seemed worth the effort.
With todays technology-- Hulu joins Apple’s iTunes Music Store, Netflix, ABC.go.com, Amazon Unboxed and others in actually providing a viable alternative to the TV Set for watching television shows and movies on your computer.
Hulu is different from paid online video like Apple and Amazon in that it’s free, obviously. The programs have what Hulu calls “limited” commericial interruptions, and to be fair, unlike regular TV, the commercial breaks that I saw were limited to one 30-second ad, inserted at the usual place you might find them while watching a TV program. You can pause, go back, and skip ahead to other parts of the program–it seems likely that one might be able to avoid the ads if you were determined to do so, but I found that the advantage of watching a TV show with ads on my computer over watching on TV was that I could simply pop open another browser window and listen for the end of the ad while I checked my email or caught up on my blogs. For now, to a lazy person like me, hacking my way around the ads seems like it might not be worth the bother.
Picture quality, while not high-def, is certainly acceptable on my 15-inch laptop screen, and you can open the window to full screen if you like, or pop the video out into a separate window.