Hulu Desktop Beta has great potential

The first thought that hits me when I open Hulu's desktop application is how bad I feel for Joost. A few years ago they were trying to pull off the same magic trick: bringing a full-fledged TV experience to the desktop. Adobe tried, too with their own media player and it didn't quite do so well either. But, despite a few short comings, Hulu's application feels like it will have some staying power.

Of course, the biggest advantage, and the overall reason it won't go the way of the other streaming media buffalo, is all the high-quality content. seemingly, everything you can watch on the site, you can watch through the app. That means full episodes of Fox and NBC shows as well as full-length movies and original content. Unfortunately, that still means it won't support ABC (Disney) content, so it still isn't going to be your only source for network content. Let's face it, having Lost on here would be a big step in the right direction.


Functionally, the application is surprisingly nimble, considering how resource-heavy it is. While playing in high-quality, it required about half of my half of my processor's attention (Intel Core2Duo T9500 @2.6GHz) and 275,000K of my 4GB RAM. That's not exactly Winamp. But, if you're running it on a media center PC, that's not really an issue.

The interface is extremely snappy and surprisingly slick, but the Beta bugs are there. After searching for a show, hitting the scroll wheel on my mouse sent the whole program into a catastrophic failure and it had to be restarted. But, other features like the episode playlists (you'll need an account) seem to be working extremely well.


One of my personal favorite features is the progress bar. You can't scrub through the videos, but when you mouse over a spot on the bar, it provides a preview of the frame you'll be skipping to.


Ultimatley, the whole thing is very promising. With major studio support and an application that really seems to be getting there, cable should probably start worrying about losing more frugal subscribers in the near future. Now, on to HD and mobile!