If you want to catch up on popular broadcast TV on your tablet or smartphone, Hulu for Android is a great choice (the Hulu Plus moniker has been retired). The app itself is free, but you’ll want to pay the $7.99 monthly service charge to access Hulu’s complete catalog of shows and higher maximum resolution content. There are a few quibbles; you still have to deal with ads with a paid account, the movie catalog and original programming are weaker than our Editors’ Choice Netflix, and some content isn’t licensed for mobile streaming. But Hulu for Android is a very capable mobile video service for aspiring cord cutters.
A Hulu subscription gives everything that the free, browser-based Huluoffers, but with the benefit of more content. The basic Hulu service lets you view the last five episodes of most shows, but a Hulu subscription lets you tune in to entire back seasons (where available), better movies, and exclusive programming. This alone makes it worth the price of admission. And unlike the inferior Hulu iPhone app, Hulu for Android will let you watch Hulu’s limited amount of free content, too. You can watch these free shows and movies on the Web as well, but Hulu for Android is the only way to access them on the go.
Hulu for Android Content
When the free, basic Hulu launched in March 2008, it had 50 content providers, the biggest being NBC and FOX, and more than 90 show titles. Now it has more than 350 providers, including ABC, Comedy Central, Criterion, CW, MGM, Sony Pictures, TED, Viz Media, and Warner Bros. The impressive international selection includes shows from countries like Britain, Canada, Japan, Korea, Russia, and more. Even old holdouts like CBS and premium cable channels like Showtime are now on board. You can watch Adventure Time, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Empire, and tons of other top-tier TV shows the day after they air or revisit the entire back catalogs of classics like Seinfeld. Compare that to Netflix, which usually gets new seasons of TV shows a year after they air—except its own shows, of course.
Quality movie content is a bit harder to come by, however. For everyThe King of Kong, Y Tu Mamá También, or Criterion Collection release, there are a slew of low-end movies featuring washed up celebs, such asBig Money Rustlas, the 2011 Western comedy starring the Insane Clown Posse.
Netflix has a similar streaming option for $7.99 per month that lets you watch movies and TV shows on your tablet. Netflix’s streaming library excels in movies, offering an even-deeper catalog of such recognizable flicks as The Terminator and Nightcrawler. Hulu also has a slate of original programming, but it can’t compete with the likes of Daredevil,House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black on Netflix. Our biggest gripe with Netflix is that a handful of shows and movies can only be viewed via the browser—depending on the current agreement, Hulu doesn’t always have the licensing to stream those shows to mobile devices.
Content may appear on more than one service. Pulp Fiction, for example, is available on both Hulu and Netflix. Unlike the browser-based Hulu, Hulu for Android doesn’t point you to an external site to find missing content. For example, when typing 60 Minutes into Hulu for Web, the results returned links to CBS.com; not so in Hulu for Android.
The Hulu for Android Experience
Navigating the app’s panel-driven interface is simple and intuitive, even on the smaller screen. Tapping a TV or movie thumbnail gives you the option to watch it, add it to your queue, or go to the program’s page where you can find in-depth information. If you’re not a paid subscriber, the shows you can’t watch are clearly marked. The search icon and drop-down menu on the top navigation bar let you browse for new content or enjoy the content you already have saved. At the top there is also a Chromecast icon so you can stream Hulu to nearby compatible devices.
After we fired up an episode ofThe Daily Show, it loaded quickly and streamed both the audio and video smoothly. The colors were sharp and the images crisp, but while most Hulu videos are HD at this point, it’s unclear which shows are still in SD. The app has multiple bit rate support, so it will serve up the best video as determined by wireless network speed. You can’t manually tweakthese settings, but there’s rarely a need to. Video quality will be the highest and most stable on a strong Wi-Fi connection, but videos are certainly watchable if all you have access to are a 3G or 4G LTE signals.
Since Hulu offers a paid service, we were hoping for a few privileged perks like reduced ads (or ad-free streaming) and quicker access to shows. It would’ve been great to have episodes available an hour after they air on TV, as opposed to a day later. Instead, a Hulu subscription gives you what feels like the same amount of ads and doesn’t make episodes available earlier than the free service.
On the plus side, a paid subscription allows streaming content in 720p HD (when available); the highest quality offered for the free, basic Hulu is 480p. Netflix and Amazon Instant Video both go up to 1080p. This is an issue on larger Android tablets, but it’s harder to notice the difference in video quality on the smaller screen of the Moto X we used for testing.
Should You Subscribe to Hulu for Android?
Hulu for Android is an app that’s easy to recommend for those who want to stay on top of current TV shows when you’re anywhere your phone or tablet can be. And the ability to watch Hulu’s free content makes this superior to Hulu’s iPhone app.
If you’re more of a movie person, our Editors’ Choice Netflix are where you should turn your attention. Amazon Instant Video is good, too (if you don’t mind paying à la carte), but the Android version has some installation issues. If you’re looking for great—and current—TV content, however, Hulu for Android is well worth checking out. Hulu for Android is an excellent streaming video app, whether you’re a subscriber or not.
[“source – in.pcmag.com”]