The good news is that Hulu's basic video streaming is free. You can simply go to their site and watch shows and movies without even registering or logging in. The bad news is that the free option puts a variety of limitations on the videos, including blocking some episodes until a week after they air, running more commercials during the shows or just not offering certain shows. In order to get the full Hulu experience, you need to sign up for a Hulu Plus membership. It's $7.99/month for unlimited streaming, and it gives you access to most shows a day after they air on live TV, cuts the number of commercials for some shows and gives you more access to its full library of streaming TV shows and movies. And it now has an option that gives you access to its full library with zero commercials, for $11.99/month.
Hulu has one of the largest selections of TV shows available on the web. They carry shows from basic cable all the way up to the Food Network and SyFy channel. They even have "Hey, Paula!," the short-lived reality show about Paula Abdul. The only current TV they don't seem to offer is premium channel shows (HBO, Showtime, etc.) and live event TV (sporting events, award shows, etc.)
The number of episodes each show includes depends on the show and the rights Hulu has to stream them. For example, Grey's Anatomy includes all shows from every season, whereas Glee does not include the first two seasons of the show. Along with full episodes, Hulu also offers popular clips of certain shows, as well as related interviews or appearances from actors associated with the show.
In addition to current TV, Hulu also has a large collection of older, retired TV shows, such as ALF, Lost and the Cosby Show. Most of these include all the episodes, although some are limited due to streaming rights. The movie selection is somewhat lackluster and is mostly comprised of obscure movies from the Criterion Collection, which is a video-distribution company. The most popular titles include Memento, Spy Kids and Weird Science.
Most of the videos on Hulu are shown in HD, so video quality is great, even on your smartphone or tablet. Of all the services that we've reviewed, it provides the most consistent video quality. It never blurs or becomes distorted while you are watching, which some of the video streaming services had an issue with.
There are a few different ways that you can stream videos from Hulu. The most popular way is by computer. You can either view videos directly on your computer or hook your computer up to your television so you can stream your favorite videos from your couch.
In addition to using your computer to view Hulu content, there are many devices that stream Hulu, each with its own interface for streaming. AppleTV and Roku are devices that are specifically used for streaming video on your TV. For those gamers who already have a gaming console hooked up to the TV, Playstation, XBox, and Wii all have Hulu interfaces that will let you stream video. And many Internet-ready TVs include a Hulu app that will allow you to stream videos from Hulu.
If you are on the go, both Apple and Android offer apps that let you stream Hulu on your phone or tablet.
Hulu customer service is available via phone and email. We emailed Hulu Support a simple question and they got back to us within a day, so they are helpful, but if you have an immediate problem, you might have to figure it out on your own or end up waiting for a response.
To keep up-to-date on your current favorite shows, Hulu is the best pick. It's the only video streaming service that offers most shows a day after they air live, unless you pay-per-episode with iTunes or Amazon, which can get expensive. And with their ever expanding library of older shows and movies, the selection and quality will only get better.
|Free Trial:||1 week of Hulu Plus|
|Monthly Price:||$11.99/mo for Hulu Plus (no commercials); |
$7.99/mo for Hulu Plus (w/limited commercials); standard Hulu is free
|Selection:||A great variety of television shows; lacking on movies|
|Viewing Options:||Streaming through computer, Playstation, XBox, Wii, Internet-ready TVs, AppleTV, Roku|
|Customer Service:||Email and phone|
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