Hulu Plus for all US Playstation owners; NHL hits PS3 & Roku

As promised last week, Hulu Plus on the Playstation 3 has left "Preview" mode and is now available to all US-based Playstation 3 owners who have a (free) Playstation Network account. Prior to today it was only available to "Playstation Plus" (ie paying) members. There's a new client and it seems to work better than the old Preview version. Regular readers will know I've been pretty down on the quality of Hulu Plus streaming on the PS3. Last night I watched a couple of half-hour sitcoms and generally the quality of the picture was quite good. The stream did 'glitch' once or twice, in the form of what seemed to be a few skipped frames, and suffered a mild loss of fidelity a time or two.

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I'm being fairly picky though. Based on one night's testing (and maybe it was just having a good night) I'd say if you don't mind paying the $10/month fee, and don't mind the ads, the quality of the feed is fine. But do read my caveat post from last week before signing on. That's not the only addition to the Playstation Network today. Hockey fans rejoice! Today an NHL Gamecenter LIVE app hit the US Playstation store. Once again you'll need a subscription ($169/year) to access most of the content. You can also pay $4.95/month for access to the NHL Vault; an archive of older games (NHL Vault is included with an annual Gamecenter sub). With no subscription you can view stats and scoreboards, but, get this, the app will cost you $9.99. Really Sony/NHL? I'm paying $169/year and you're going to charge me $10 for the app to view this content? Amazing. Playstation Plus subscribers can download the app for free. I did, but without a sub it wasn't a very compelling experience. Sony has a blog post about NHL Gamecenter LIVE that contains more details. If you don't think you should have to pay for the app, there's good news: NHL Gamecenter LIVE is also coming to the Roku player. You'll still have to have a subscription but at least the channel isn't going to cost you any extra to add. Roku says NHL Gamecenter LIVE is "a subscription service that offers live broadcasts of up to 40 weekly out-of-market hockey games, classic hockey as well as on-demand access to all NHL® games 48 hours after broadcast..." The bad news then, is that you'll still need cable or an OTA feed to watch local games live. (This applies to the PS3 version as well.) Speaking of the Roku, I noticed that Hulu Plus is now listed as "Coming Soon" in the list of Roku channels; a list that grows every time I go back to look at it. Roku keeps getting better and better. Yup, I'll admit to being a big fan of Roku; I've gotten so much use out of my $100 Roku player over the past few years.

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