Even as NBC was pulling its episodes off the iTunes music store and closing down its YouTube channel this fall, there was a new hope for people who wanted to watch TV online: Hulu, a new site that hosts full TV episodes and selected clips. The site is fully sanctioned by NBC, Fox, and several major studios — no copyright infringement here! — and it allows users to watch, rate, and even embed and share content legally.
The site is still in a private testing stage, but you can sign up for a username and password. I recently got mine and took a spin through Hulu, and here's what I found:
- The selection. Hulu is by no means comprehensive, but there's a lot here — more than 100 series, including current shows such as Damages and old favorites such as Picket Fences, along with several full-length movies. Scrolling through the list, I was already mentally assembling a playlist: The first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, followed by a little Arrested Development, then maybe some vintage Weird Science . . .
- The video quality. Hulu video looks sharp in its default resolution, and even at full screen, it's much easier to look at than many streaming video sites.
- Custom clips. If Hulu has a full episode, you can create a custom clip from it, choosing when the video should start and stop.
- The interface. Hulu is easy and intuitive to use, whether I'm looking through the list of series or trying to figure out how to embed a clip. You can even "turn the lights out" while watching a video, dimming everything on the screen except for the clip itself.
Hulu has a lot to recommend it — but there are downsides. To see what they are (and see an episode of Arrested Development that I embedded, just because I can) just read more