Hulu’s New layout (2012)

So anyone who’s been on Hulu.com recently has probably noticed the difference in the Website’s layout. Something that may remind you of another video streaming site. Netflix.

Hulu.com’s front page 2012

The top features an ever present Hulu menu bar

  • “Home” link
  • Browse drop-down menu
  • Search box
  • Queue
  • Social sharing setting
  • and quick access to your account page

Shows youwatch: A selection of shows based on the history of shows you watch

Poplular shows/episodes for the week

Going Viral TV for Kids

Classic Cartoons and more

Top 100 Clips

Top 100 clips

They also include Movie trailers and and more contend Recommendations on the page. Before the overall change, I did notice that they Player controls changed

New player control bar with 10 second rewind

Options: Captions, quality settings

 


A year without cable or Dish TV service

It’s not as bad as I thought it was going to be. Services like Hulu, Amazon VODNetflix/Instant Streaming help make the transition much easier.  It’s probably a tougher thing to do if you have children, or a sports fan in the home. I never actually watched Premium cable channels (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, Starz) for their series, so I knew I wouldn’t miss having access to them.

I use a desktop computer as my main entertainment device now, so the first thing I looked into was how to get Over The Air local channels to playback on my computer. After some research, I picked up a Tuner card and a Digital indoor antenna. Thankfully my computer is running Windows Vista Home Premium (Windows 7 Home Premium also works), So I used the included Windows Media Center software to watch the over the air broadcast. Installation and setup went smoothly and I was able to watch Broadcast TV just fine but the signal strength/ image quality was and still is quite average.  I’m not sure if it’s the TV tuner card or the antenna (the placement or unit itself). I may have to buy a new card or Antenna but it’s not an urgent priority.

Hulu
A lot of popular broadcast network shows will appear on this service , even if it is a few days late. It all depends on the content providers. Viewing most recent content is free (with ads), which is fine, but it sometimes episodes “expire” after a certain period of time. You can use the service though any web browser that has the Adobe Flash Player plugin installed. The  Hulu Desktop Client is also another way to access the content. It doesn’t use a web browser (IE, Firefox, Chrome…) but it still needs Flash player to be installed on the computer. To access content deemed “Mature” a login account needs to be created.

Netflix
This pay service is an alright source for movies. You’ll  find a greater selection on their Disc catalog but the content here is still good. New titles are being added all the time.

Amazon VOD
This is an excellent service for purchasing and renting of streaming TV episodes and Movies. Standard Definition TV episodes are usually $1.99/ep. and $2.99/ep. for HD content. Movie rentals go for $3.99 for a 48-hour window. Movies can be purchased for $14.99. The content selection here is great.

Now’s a good time to get into Internet streaming media.

-Tony


Apps of Interest: Hulu Desktop

Use: Desktop client for Hulu video website
Platform: MS Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Current version: 0.9.13.1 (Beta)
Website: http://www.hulu.com/labs/hulu-desktop

If you watch video on Hulu quite often then this may be of interest to you as well.

I’ve experienced quite a few browser crashes while having Hulu playback  running in IE and Firefox. I found out about the desktop via a Google search. It’s a small install of  2.30 MBs. You’ll need to have a Hulu user account to make full use of this app.  It will allow you to have quick access to your queue list, subscriptions and all the other menu items found on the website.

So far, it has yet to crash on me and runs fairly smooth on my budget dual core system.

-Tony


Netgear Digital Entertainer Live

Netgear Digital Entertainer Live
Model: EVA2000

It works but I could never get higher resolution video to playback through the device.

It’s a fairly small box so finding space for it shouldn’t be too difficult. The included power adapter only takes up one outlet. The unit supports composite (cable included) or HDMI (cable not included) out for video output to your TV. If you’re using an HDTV then you should definitely go for HDMI, for maximum image quality and for the fact that Audio and Video transmit though that single cable. There are also 2 USB ports for you to plug in a Flash drive or an external Hard Drive. Netgear sells an optional Wireless adapter that attaches via the USB ports. The unit comes with a built-in Ethernet port so you can easily add it to your existing home network. It comes with a remote control (don’t lose it).

Now that the exterior of the device, it’s time to go into what it can do once it’s all setup and attached to the Internet. It has support for Youtube, so you can watch your favorite videos on there. You can also link you Youtube account (if you have one) to the device. This gives you access to your “Favorite” videos, playlists and subscriptions. If you have Windows Media Player 11 or higher installed your computer (Windows XP, Vista, 7) you can stream audio and video from your networked computers to the Netgear EVA2000, out to the TV if the following is true:

1) The Netgear EVA2000 is attached to the home network
2) The Computers are attached to the same network, set to share the media they have ( I tried it through Windows Media Player’s Media Share feature)
3) The computer(s) have to stay powered on and connected to network to stream the content

I had absolute no issues streaming the supported audio file types to the TV. See the Product page link below for details on supported file types and other system requirements. The only supported image files are JPEG and that worked for me as well. What I had a difficult time trying playback was most of the Video files I had stored on my computer. The file types were supported but I guess it didn’t like how they were encoded (Video resolution and bit rate).  I’m not going to re-encode the files just to get it to work for this one device.

The unit also comes with a Disc that has the installer for the PlayOn Media Server. You install it on one of your networked computers and it will act as a streaming media server for popular services like Hulu and Netflix, Amazon on Demand  (You need to have accounts  for each service you wish to use). It supports plug-ins for other services/sites like Revision3, for example.

The device is useful since it has access to the popular services , control via remote, audio streaming, support for external hard drives (USB), support for a lot of different audio and video formats.  The video resolution support is pretty bad it seems, even though the device itself supports a 1280x720p output. Perhaps there will be a future (online) update to resolve this issue.

-Tony

Additional Information:
Product Page
Buy from Amazon