Hulu Plus Nintendo Wii Equals Win, Post-Game
I remember the first time I learned about Hulu. I remarked “Hey, that’s neat, their web interface is similar to the Wii’s Channel interface. They should make a Wii channel!” And I waited. And waited. Then I waited some more, and both PS3 and Xbox 360 wound up with Hulu Plus. So, I contented myself with those versions and was very, very happy. Yay for options! I cancelled cable, even, but I always thought that it would have been better to control Hulu Plus with the Wii Remote, all things considered.
And now you can, though of course, I do wonder “why now?” Wii’s lifecycle is winding down, after all, while Wii U is just around the corner. OK, I’m done wondering now. Onward to the software.
The Hulu Plus app–excuse me, channel–on Wii is a bit underwhelming if you’ve used the 360 or PS3 versions. For starters, on my (glorious, to be worshiped) 55″ Samsung LCD, it’s very blurry–and yes, I’m using component cables from the Wii to an Onkyo TX-SR608 7.2 channel receiver that upconverts it to 1080p via HDMI–which leaves something desired in visual fidelity right off the bat. The video quality settings are no help here, as the highest setting (out of a whopping selection of two) tops out at only 1Mb downstream. Video streaming is a bit better than the UI (which is surprising, but don’t get excited, it’s barely appreciable).
Navigation is fast and fluid, but hindered by the layout of the UI itself. Unlike the 360 or PS3, which show multiple rows of content, the Wii’s Hulu Plus app only shows a single row, representing whichever category you’re looking at. This slows down navigation considerably. Sliding through the rows happens simply by clicking the arrow at either end of the category, but I’m left wondering why they didn’t implement the “swipe to switch” method used in the menus on Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It would really improve things if one could simply flick the remote one way or the other to navigate forward and back. Navigating with the point and click method feels at home on the Wiimote, as it always has, of course, but it’s hard not to feel, well, disappointed at the whole experience, especially being used to this version of Hulu Plus’s HD cousins.
It’s tough to really feel much excitement about Hulu Plus on the Wii at this stage of the game, but it should prove valuable to a certain segment of the Wii’s 95 million-strong userbase. For that reason alone it’s probably not a waste of time, but neither is it as grand as one would hope. All is not woe, however, and now that we have a firm commitment from Hulu to Nintendo’s platform it seems all the more likely that we’ll get it for 3DS and Wii U. In the latter case, a version comparable to that of 360 and PS3’s, but controlled with the point and click simplicity of the Wii remote could prove an exceptionally good experience. For now, though, it’s really only recommended on Wii if you don’t have one of the HD platforms to use it with, or if you’re playing on a standard definition TV.