The Woods, Part One
Let’s see where this goes.
I had never heard of Hulu until Dr. Horrible, and even then the site fell entirely out of my mind. When I saw it mentioned on Kung Fu Monkey, it became clear that Hulu had at least two different shows on it. It was at this point that I visited the site proper and became synchronized with the modern world. I immediately stopped whittling on my crude spear.
I’m a little afraid to explain it, because you almost certainly know it, but here: it’s essentially free, digital, on-demand television, interleaved with the standard commercial breaks. This happens sometimes already, usually only for specific shows from specific channels, but Hulu is agnostic in that regard. It’s as though YouTube grew up and got a job.
I originally wrote here that I don’t mind watching shows on my monitor, but that was a lie, so I removed it. There are many things I find unacceptable in this universe, I won’t provide an exhaustive list, but watching full television programs on my monitor has a… “texture” I don’t like. I also don’t like having a full keyboard on my couch (overjoyed). I don’t want to hook my PC into a television, and I shouldn’t have to. All these machines are wired into a hundred megabit switch, and when they don’t talk to one another, I feel like I’m mediating some Goddamned playground dispute.
PlayOn is a program that makes children play nice. I used a similar (free) product called TVersity for awhile, and I was surprised at how much wider it made the experience of using a console - dishing up access to the kinds of media and services we take for granted on personal computers. It doesn’t have Hulu support though, not yet, so that’s a serious point in PlayOn’s favor. PlayOn also has YouTube support, which you’d think would be redundant on the PS3 because of the native browser. I defy you watch YouTube clips on said browser for any extended duration. Take note of the desynched audio and mysteriously closing windows, and wonder if your system is haunted.
The way PlayOn exposes media to the consoles works well on both platforms, but it’s much more legible on the PS3 because of the font size and the way it scrolls text that is too long for the field. I did a bunch of “tests” last night, and it’s as powerful a system update as either company has delivered to date. PlayOn does carry a fee, but you’ll know during the trial period if that fee is worth it to you. Netflix support is incoming, which might help make the case - and don’t forget that TVersity does much of this for free. You need at least one of these.