Hulu Plus has had some of the most consistently excellent streaming quality I've seen, but it still has problems.
In my Hulu Plus test, I watched several episodes of the NBC sitcom The Office. The first problem I encountered: commercials. Before my show even began, I had to sit through a 40-second Norton AntiVirus commercial, and over the course of each 22-minute episode I had to endure three more commercials, ranging in length from 30 seconds to 1 minute. No other streaming service forces paying customers to sit through ads.
Hulu offers multiple streaming options on the PC: You can watch in 720p HD, 480p, 360p, or even 288p (in case you have a slow connection). You can also turn closed captions on and off from inside the window, pop the video out into its own window, "dim the lights" (dims the Hulu interface in the window so that the video is more visible), and watch in full-screen mode.
Streaming quality was crisp, clear, and very smooth in all modes except full-screen mode. After about 40 minutes of straight streaming in full-screen mode, the video stream began "skipping," for lack of a better word: Near the top of the screen, the video displayed artifacts--colorful blocky patterns--and the picture jumped back and forth between two frames until I manually skipped to another point in the video. This happened twice in a 90-minute period of streaming tests.
Ease of Use
Hulu Plus's interface is easy to use. Once you've logged into the site, you can browse TV shows and movies, or you can search for a specific title using the search box. The search box auto-completes searches for you; and if the content you specify is a TV show, you can either go to the show's main page or jump directly to the latest episode.
Hulu also lets you add shows to your Favorites list, so the service will notify you when one of your favorite shows has a new episode or clip available for viewing.
Next: Blockbuster On Demand, iTunes Rentals
Blockbuster On Demand
Price: $1.99 to $3.99 per rental
Selection: A few new movies, popular old movies
Notable titles: Bridesmaids, X-Men, Iron Man
Notably missing titles: Thor, Fast Five
Supported platforms: Android devices, connected Blu-ray players, connected HDTVs, PCs, TiVo, WD TV