It seems like we’ve been waiting forever for Hulu to go live with their iPhone and iPad app, and now that the Hulu Plus app is finally available, we’ve been lucky enough to take it for a spin. Hulu Plus will cost you an extra $9.99 per month for the convenience of being able to stream your favorite shows and movies to your iDevice over a cellular 3G data connection or WiFi. But, the question is: Is the “Plus” service worth spending an extra 10 bucks every month? Let’s find out.
First, let’s talk about the differences between the free Hulu website and Hulu+. Hulu is available for free on your desktop, via the website, and the free service only offers up a maximum resolution of 480p – hardly what you’d call HD. You’re also at the mercy of Hulu’s episode expiration dats, so if you wait to long to watch that old episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it might not be available for viewing. What the Hulu+ premium service does is it gives you the option to view videos in full 720p HD resolution, access to full seasons, resume playback across devices, and of course stream to your iPhone or iPad.
Sounds like the perfect deal, right? Well, keep in mind that Hulu Plus also requires you to watch commercials, just like the free service. Another drawback is that not all videos are available in the full 720p HD resolution – only shows with a “H+” icon are good to go in HD. And, only a select subset of the Hulu TV show library offers full season support. Still, when you can get your show in HD, there’s no comparison.
On the upside, the iPhone and iPad app work as well as can be expected over 3G. Picture quality will adjust according to the strength of your 3G signal, so WiFi is the way to go (if you can). As you can see from the video, streams start almost instantly and picture quality is top notch on WiFi.
Overall, the stand-out feature for Hulu Plus isn’t the HD streaming. It isn’t the full season support. It isn’t even the ability to stream over 3G to your iPhone. Nope, the coolest thing about Hulu Plus is the “resume playback” feature that allows you to stop your show in mid-stream on your iPhone or iPad and continue watching the show on your other iDevice or your computer. Videos resume exactly where you left off. That’s cool.
So, is Hulu+ worth the extra cost? We say yes. Being able to watch TV on your iPhone or iPad is great for killing time. If you’re a heavy Hulu user who’s shunned TV in favor of internet streaming and/or you’re an HD snob and nothing less than 720p is fit for your eyes, then yes, the $10 a month is totally worth it. Of course, you should watch the video for yourself and make your own decision.