For those who’ve been on another planet, Hulu has been serving up a wide variety of TV programming online, streamed straight to your eyeballs. Even brand new programs that aired yesterday are often available for a while, allowing you to catch programs that you missed, forgot to record, etc. All for free, too, provided you can handle some commercial interruptions.
Not long ago, the evil masterminds at Hulu created a paid subscription tier called Hulu Plus, where for $10 you can get access to a larger back catalog of TV shows. You still have to watch commercials though. Sounds great for them; make me pay money to watch shows with commercials, just like the channels I used to pay for on cable. Yet, Hulu has been notoriously against serving up content on the one device people really want to use to watch TV shows – the TV. Sure, you can hook up a computer to your TV and watch it in a web browser or use Boxee (with a little effort), or you could use a PS3 on the PSN network since July. That’s it.
Thankfully, that’s FINALLY going to change. Hulu Plus will soon be available to Roku digital video players and TiVo. Hulu Plus, particularly in conjunction with Netflix, is a pretty powerful and affordable combo for a vast amount of entertainment, but few are going to buy a TiVo or PS3 for it. That’s where Roku comes in.
For those unfamiliar with Roku, they’ve been around for a while making various gizmos, but their real claim to fame came in 2008 when they launched the very first TV set-top box capable of streaming content from Netflix Instant Watch, and was the only option until Microsoft added Netflix streaming to the XBOX 360. It didn’t matter though, the Roku digital video player did the job nicely, and has always been affordable.
Today they offer three different models and a huge variety of online content you can watch with it. Best of all, they’ve recently given Apple’s new Apple TV box the finger, dropping the price of their entry level (and still very capable) Roku HD model to just $59. Even if you want their greatest box, which has dual-band Wi-Fi, component video and optical outputs, and 1080p playback, it’ll only run you $40 more. This is stocking stuffer territory folks, which I bring up only in case you’re all wondering what to get a friend, family member, or me for Christmas.
Smile. It’s a great, great day for TV addicts everywhere.
Satisfy your inner geek while fueling your TV addiction… TV Tech Fix is a column by Matt Whitlock, editor of the TechLore.com Consumer Electronics Community (plus several other gadget-focused community websites), and lover of both technology and TV. In this column, he’ll cover a wide variety of tech topics aimed squarely at the TV addicts of the world – from tips and tricks to help you better your TV experience, to gear recommendations, to the impact technology is having on the TV shows we love.