Mixed results for Hulu Plus on Android

Hulu brings its streaming video powers to Android devices by way of its free Hulu Plus native app.

For those who aren't Hulu Plus premium subscribers, the Hulu Plus app for Android offers only a tiny taste of the popular Web site's video catalog. A link on the Home screen leads to all of the free content (which is not much), while pretty much every other link eventually leads you to a premium member log-in screen.

Meanwhile, for paying Hulu Plus subscribers, the experience is quite a bit different. The app opens up to a dashboard with all of your basic functions: TV, Movies, Queue, History, Search, and More. The More icon leads to Favorites and Account settings.

To start browsing through TV shows, use the left drop-down menu to pick from Featured, Most Popular, Recently Added, Alphabetical or Studios. Then use the right drop-down menu to choose between full episodes, clips, or both. To browse Movies, the process is the same, except this right drop-down lets you choose between full movies, trailers, or both. From there, you simply scroll through all the videos that fit your criteria. You can also access each video's info page, which includes run time, ratings, and other pertinent info.

The Search function is just as simple, though it's not particularly powerful. It returns accurate results, and we like that you can search actors' names as well as TV show and movie titles, but we wish it included some filtering options. For instance, you can't restrict your search to only Movies or TV shows, which doesn't make sense, since the two categories are clearly separate throughout the rest of the app. Also, you can't filter trailers or talk show appearances from, say movies.

As for the Queue and the Favorites functions, they work just as they do on the Web.

When it comes actually streaming video, Hulu Plus does an awesome job. Picture and sound quality are impressive, and buffering is seldom a problem. It is a shame, however, that not all of Hulu's videos are available for streaming through the Android app--Fox's Fringe episodes are marked as Web Only. We also had an issue with the default video quality, which is set at medium, and cannot be changed. Thus, we had to manually switch to high-quality playback every time we loaded a new video, which was annoying, to say the least.

Overall, we think Hulu Plus is sort of a mixed bag. We were impressed with its picture, sound, and overall streaming quality, but we think it definitely needs some user interface improvements. Regardless, if you're already a paying premium subscriber, you might as well just download the free app, no?

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