TheONbutton Durham Computer Services

Remote IT Support and Computer & Technology Help in Durham, Chapel Hill and Raleigh NC

Hulu Plus and the cost of coming second

When Netflix launched its online streaming service it was anyone’s guess as to whether it would catch on. For years now the Berman living room PC has been our primary source of couch media. Between Windows Media Center, Netflix and more recently Hulu and Fancast, our TV needs are fully served. But we still haven’t adopted Hulu Plus.

Around a year ago when we found we were gobbling 90% of our Netflix food online and only a snack through the mail, we cut down from two DVDs per month to one. The online selection has become enormous, with movies such as Ironman, the new Star Trek and Wall-E available through the pipe. We’ve also consumed all eight days of 24 over Netflix this year. It’s little wonder that recent stats suggest 20% of all US peak internet traffic is Netflix streaming.

So when Hulu Plus came along offering content WITH commercials for a dollar MORE a month than Netflix, I wasn’t really interested. We were already in the Netflix ecosystem; all our large screen devices (Windows Media Center, iPad, laptops) support Netflix and most importantly in the living room Netflix works with a simple remote control on Windows Media Center or the Xbox. In my household Hulu Plus was paying the price of coming to market a late second. Sure, Hulu Plus offers different TV content to Netflix but its overall library is weaker, due to its relative lack of quality movie titles. Hulu is also coming out with a remote control interface, but it’s not in production release yet.

It looks like I wasn’t alone. Rumors are circling about a possible 50% Hulu Plus price cut, which can only be a result of a lower than expected adoption rate. At $4.95 per month the service would definitely be more tempting than the current $9.95, but the most frustrating part of the Hulu experience remains i.e. the ever increasing amount of commercials. Ad breaks on Hulu have rapidly increased from an acceptable 30 seconds to around 2 annoying minutes, and I’m sure that duration will continue to increase. With Netflix being commercial free, Hulu Plus will always have a hard time convincing consumers to pay for an ad-supported service when much of its content is available on its free site.

I’m guessing therefore that the real objective of a lower Hulu Plus subscription price would be to remove the free service altogether when subscriber numbers reach critical mass.

Neil Berman

Advertisements

Oct 24, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Software | , , , , | 1 Comment

Windows Media Center 7 crashing on Recorded TV scrolling?

Minor freak-out at theONbutton HQ today when Windows 7 Media Center insisted on crashing when trying to scroll through recorded TV.  A quick System Restore to a few hours earlier failed to resolve the issue and panic ensued.  Fortunately this thread at The Green Button suggested simply finding where the scrolling crashes and deleting the offending file.  Problem solved and calm restored :-)

Neil Berman

Oct 3, 2010 Posted by | Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft | , , , | 2 Comments

Building a Windows Media Center HTPC

In January 2009 I started running the Windows 7 Beta followed later in the year by the Release Candidate on my trusty old Pentium 4 living room PC.  In October to coincide with the Windows 7 launch I brought that computer into the modern age but decided to wait a few months to collect my thoughts before sharing the experience. Continue reading about building a Windows Media Center HTPC…

Feb 13, 2010 Posted by | Computing, Guides, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Ceton Quad Tuner discussion with Microsoft

The new Ceton quad HD CableCARD tuner for your HTPC is here, and to prove how real it really is I spent time with Microsoft talking about it today.  As a reminder this PCI Express beast offers four CableCARD HD tuners for simultaneous quad channel recording in an HTPC using Windows 7 Media Center.   All the gory details are in the video below, and yes, this thing really is as great as it sounds.  HTPC enthusiasts rejoice!  So check out the video and then order the largest, fastest hard drive you can find.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft, Video Features | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Microsoft crashes, then reboots to deliver pre-CES keynote

Things didn’t quite go according to plan for Steve Ballmer and Microsoft at tonight’s pre-CES keynote.  Power failed at startup but after a thirty minute reboot we were fully operational.

Steve was on form with some great Windows 7 stats, revealing that there were an incredible eight million beta testers during 2009, including yours truly.  Steve didn’t mention me by name; perhaps next time ;-)

Some important announcements followed, including the news that Project Natal would be born to the 2010 Holiday Season.  This groundbreaking gaming controller has the potential to be a game changer, using TV mounted cameras to turn your body into a game controller.  Pricing is still to be confirmed; let’s pray for good content to get the best out of this promising technology.

On the wireless front there was no mention of Windows Phone 7, but the HTC HD2 is coming to T-Mobile in the US.  This 1GHz Snapdragon-powered phone is as good as it gets right now on the Windows Phone platform, so it’s great to see this device coming to a major US carrier.

Ceton’s quad HD CableCard tuner was also demo’d, which allows recording of four simultaneous CableCard-encrypted channels within Windows 7 Media Center.  Could this finally propel WMC into mainstream living rooms?  I’d say probably not, because this functionality has existed for unencrypted channels for some time now.  However it’s a great step forward for WMC enthusiasts and takes this excellent home media platform even further ahead of the competition.

There was also a great looking HP slate on display (main picture) along with a couple of others.  Microsoft is clearly taking this emerging sector seriously as everyone awaits Apple’s potential entry.  No details were available on the HP slate, except that it is coming our way soon.

On the Xbox 360 gaming front, Halo Reach looks solid and Microsoft believes it has created a new psychological thriller game genre in Alan Wake.  This new game is said to play like a real life movie, I’ll live in hope but will hold judgement for now.  Microsoft also announced Game Room which is a retro gaming platform for the Xbox 360, giving access to over a thousand arcade games over the coming three years.  Game Room looks great, but I was left wondering whether this is really a viable offering, given that most of these games are already available through compilation releases.

Enjoy the shots in the gallery…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft, Mobile, News | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Netflix & Windows Media Center meet, and it’s instant romance

Netflix Media Center 3Microsoft hinted about this one way back at CES in January and after a long wait it’s finally here.  Windows Media Center now has direct Netflix integration and I’m lovin’ it.

The Netflix icon appeared in my Movies section this week and clicking it led to a one minute installation followed by instant gratification.  Not much more to say apart from that it integrates seamlessly into the already superb Media Center interface.  Will other platforms ever try to catch-up with what is so far and away the best media library experience out there?

Here’s the gallery.  A warning for those of you not in the USA, this gallery may make you extremely jealous.  Sorry about that, and here’s hoping Netflix goes international!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Oct 21, 2009 Posted by | Computing, Guides, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft, News, Reviews, Software | , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: