Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Home Theater Edition

Every household needs decent home theater accessories to go with their TV. This holiday season, get your loved ones the right gifts with these bestselling home theater items. We’ve made it easy for you to find out this year’s must-haves in consumer electronics so you’ll know you’re giving the best.

Apple TV

Average Price: $99

Category: Streaming media player

Apple TV lets you stream all of the movies and TV shows available in the iTunes Store to your HDTV on a rental or purchase basis, with purchases stored in the cloud. Netflix, MLB.TV, Hulu Plus, and a handful of other online media services are available, plus music, videos, and photos can be streamed from iPads, iPods and iPhones using AirPlay. AirPlay Mirroring lets you stream any Web video to the Apple TV, if you have a newer Mac running Mountain Lion.

Those who’ve already invested in iTunes content and Apple hardware will love Apple TV.

Roku 2 XD

Average Price: $65-$79

Category: Streaming media player

This digital media player supports signals up to 1080p and features built-in wireless networking that allows you to stream media to your TV, so you can enjoy your favorite TV shows, movies and more in stunning high-definition. Roku 2 XD offers hundreds of streaming-video and -audio services, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO Go, Vudu, Pandora, Mog, Rdio, and MLB.TV. Roku also offers cross-platform search, capable of finding content across major streaming services.

For people who are not Apple fans and want to access Amazon Instant Video this device will suit your needs.

LG BP620 Blu-Ray Player

Average Price: $99

Category: Blu-Ray Player

If you want the best movie content and picture quality on your HDTV, you need a Blu-ray player. LG’s new Blu-ray player, the BP620, is an impressive device for its price. It features built-in Wi-Fi, plenty of online options, and 3D support.The BP620 offers a wide selection of streaming media services and both free and pay apps, accessible through the player’s built-in Wi-Fi or an Ethernet connection. The Premium services are the most useful, and include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Pandora, and several other streamed offerings. The LG apps are much less worthwhile, and include a middling selection of downloadable games and e-books.

The LG BP620 is an excellent budget Blu-ray player. It supports 3D, has built-in Wi-Fi, and its price makes it very friendly to budget-minded home theater owners. There are certainly more expensive options out there such as Sony Playstation 3 and Oppo BDP-93.

Logitech Harmony 650

Average Price: $59-79

Category: Universal Remote

The Harmony 650 is a powerful universal remote with easy set up, color LCD screen, surrounded by five contextual buttons; Web programmable via Windows or Mac PCs; excellent button layout and overall design; supports custom sequences/macros. It does only control 5 devices, so if you have more than that you may want to consider a different remote. Eliminate multiple remotes and get this very reasonable universal remote.

Sony HT-CT150 Soundbar

Average Price: $188-200

Category: Home Theater / Soundbar

The sound bar has become an extremely popular add-on purchase when shopping for a TV, especially if you don’t want a space-hogging multi-channel surround system. You shouldn’t have to deal with sound so bad it sours your experience with your gorgeous new display.

This 3D sound bar delivers immersive audio without running wires across the room or setting up extra speakers, so you can complete your 3D home entertainment experience with simple, yet powerful surround sound. The  32″ 3D sound bar home theater system features 3D compatibility and can also be turned into your entertainment hub by utilizing its 3 HDMI video outputs. The downfall is the wired subwoofer limits how far you can place it from the sound bar.

With easy setup and great sound, this is an excellent gift for under $200.

Energy Take Classic 5.1

Average Price: $299

Category: Home Theater / Surround Sound

If you are looking for home theater speakers, the Energy Take Classic 5.1 will leave you pleased with your listening experience.  The collection of high-tech components: satellites, subwoofer, and a center channel. Displayed in high-gloss black cabinets, this system looks as good as it sounds. The 200-watt, 8″ subwoofer provides pounding bass while four satellites and a center channel bring an expansive sound stage to the comfort of your home.

Altogether, the system is one of the best home theater values available.

Sony STR-DN1030 Receiver

Average Price: $449-498

Category: Home Theater / AV Receiver

Sony may not be the first brand you think of in connection with audio/video receivers, but that may be about to change with the STR-DN1030. This receiver is a wireless triple threat with Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And all of that is dongle-free.

Wired connectivity includes five HDMI inputs and one output, all on the back panel. There’s also an HD-capable component video output along with two component ins. Composite video switching is limited to two ins and two outs, and there are no S-video jacks. This should be enough to support an average system unless you’re loaded with legacy components. There is a wired Ethernet connection in addition to the built-in Wi-Fi antenna. And if you prefer to connect your iPhone or iPod to the front-panel USB jack.

The STR-DN1030 shows that the company can still make a great AV receiver. It may be slightly behind the Onkyo TX-NR616 in overall value, but it’s a better choice if you want more features built-in.

Create better online videos with the YouTube Creator Playbook

There are two ways you can use YouTube to gain fame and fortune:

  1. Create a viral video that gets viewed by millions of people.
  2. Create a YouTube channel that drives traffic to your brand over time.

Viral videos rely a lot on quirkiness and luck. Despite that randomness, there are some best practices that will help your video. The more methodical approach to building a popular YouTube channel requires a mastery of a wide range of online video best practices. The YouTube Creator Playbook is a guide to those best practices broken into Programming and Producing, Publishing and Optimization, and Community and Social Media.

For example, these are some of the best practices:

  • Tent Pole Programming: Schedule online videos in connection with cultural events to create more interest in your channel.
  • The First 15 Seconds:How to hook your viewers by making the beginnings more compelling.
  • Thumbnail Optimization:Create thumbnail images that act as mini-movie posters for your online video.
  • Social Media: Using social media to find audiences for your YouTube channel.

This is a very practical guide. Each best practice is introduced by a summary page that gives an estimate of how much time is required, description of what metrics are affected, estimate of how much the task will impact metrics and at what stage of production it will be used. The information helps content creators decide what is important for them to do.

The how-to part is rich in detail and ideas on how to implement each best practice.

The Playbook is a must read for anyone – beginner or pro – who wants to create and sustain an audience for online video. It can be browsed quickly for ideas and is strong on detail that explains how to implement practices. YouTube promises to keep updating the Playbook for more tips as they learn what works. There isn’t a subscribe option but keep an eye on the YouTube Creators blog.

Again, the Playbook is a must read. The advice is collected and presented in a very useful way.

How to record amazing videos with a point-and-shoot camera

Let’s say you want to be the next Peter Jackson or George Lucas. That’s far from realistic, but let’s say you just want to be a film-making hobbyist and don’t exactly have the budget for a decent video camera and all of the accompanying equipment. After all, it can literally add up to thousands of dollars.

Just because you can’t afford the high-quality equipment doesn’t automatically mean that you should give up producing quality videos. This guide will prove that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get good results.

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The Camera

First off, you need a camera to shoot video (obviously). Unless you plan on spending over $500, you’ll probably end up with a point-and-shoot camera. This isn’t a bad thing, since a lot of newer point-and-shoots record pretty good video. I went with the Canon ELPH 300 HS for $150 (it was as low as $130 on Cyber Monday). It shoots full 1080p HD video at 30 FPS, has a wide 24 mm lens, a CMOS sensor (as opposed to the inferior CCD sensor, which most point-and-shoots have) and a Digic 4 processor (the same processor that’s in the 1D Mark IV). For the price, it’s an amazing camera.

Now that you have your point-and-shoot camera, it’s time to make the magic happen. I’ve gathered up some great tools and methods for shooting great quality video on a point-and-shoot budget. Let’s give them a try.

Image Stabilization

Image Credit: The Frugal Filmmaker

Stabilization is one of the most important aspects of a great quality video. You don’t want your video shaking all about to the point that your viewers start to get motion sick. Stabilization can be accomplished using several methods.

The most obvious stabilization technique is using a tripod. You can get a cheap tripod on eBay for less than $20. While they won’t have fluid heads or be rife with features, you get a decent stand to mount your camera onto, which is all you need most of the time.

If you want to shoot moving action shots, you can get what’s called a “fig rig”. It basically adds handles to your camera so that you get a better-stabilized shot. A real fig rig costs hundreds of dollars, but you can make your own mini fig rig for your point-and-shoot for about $5. All you need is a Nintendo Wii steering wheel remote adapter from the dollar store and a mini ballhead that you can get on eBay. Instructions/Demo here.

Lighting

Lighting is also one of the most important aspects of a great quality video and it can certainly be what makes or breaks your video. Your subject needs to have adequate lighting in order for the shot to turn out well. Lamps and other usual light fixtures in a home just don’t cut it by themselves. I’ve found that construction work lights are great for adequate lighting and the type of light source they provide is actually not much different from those fancy lights you see in television studios. You can get a pair of high-powered, halogen work lights for around $40 at any hardware store. I ended up getting a pair of smaller 250 W work lights for $8 a piece. They work great!

You can also go the even cheaper route and get clamp lights with reflecting hoods, which cost about $5 a piece and you can use any type of screw-in bulb that you want. However, since you’re using a household lightbulb, you won’t get the power and brightness of a halogen work light, so just keep that in mind.

Time Lapse

Image Credit: Getaway Moments

We all love a good time-lapse video because they’re so mesmerizing to watch, and a lot of filmmaking hobbyists enjoy making them. Most point-and-shoots come with a time-lapse feature on board, making the process even easier, but you can add even more quality to your time-lapse videos by adding a panning motion. A cheap and easy way to accomplish this is to mount your point-and-shoot on a kitchen timer. Obviously, kitchen timers make a complete rotation every 60 minutes, which makes them great for getting a nice, slow panning motion during the time-lapse. I prefer Ikea’s Ordning Kitchen Timer that can be had for $6. It not only looks cool, but it has a smooth, flat surface that makes it easy to stick your point-and-shoot on. Instructions/Demo here.

Slider Dolly

A slider dolly is one of the coolest filmmaking accessories around. It’s a simple device that gives you smooth, gliding shots of a subject and just adds overall zing to your videos. A professional slider dolly can cost a few hundred dollars (even more than that at times), but fortunately, there are ways to build your own slider dolly that can achieve very close to the same effect. There are literally dozens of different ways to build one and a quick Google search will get you in the right direction. The slider dolly that I built (seen above) cost me only around $15!

You can also get slider dollys that move on wheels rather than a track system. Cineskates are a great example of this. It’s basically a Joby GorillaPod that has three rollerskate wheels attached to the legs. However, you probably took a peek at the price tag, which reads $200 just for the wheels ($300 for the whole system). Fortunately, you can assemble your own removable wheels to attach to a GorillaPod for the price of rollerskate wheels and a few small hardware parts.

Be Creative

In all honesty, the most important thing to keep in mind when making a quality video with a point-and-shoot camera is to just be creative, and there are hundreds of different ways that can be done. Are there tools and methods that you know of that aren’t in this guide? Let us know about them in the comments!

First Look: Logitech Revue with Google TV

Editor’s note: I am joined at the end of this article by software engineer Chris Finke, who was kind enough to share his experiences integrating Google TV with his Tivo.  Both Chris and I won our Logitech Revues through a developer contest held by Google.

The Logitech Revue with Google TV is Google’s first foray into the set-top box hardware format. The idea behind Google TV is that you can take your all of your entertainment sources, no matter how expansive, and have access to everything through a single device. After connecting your digital cable, DVR, and streaming accounts like Netflix, you can search for content through Google TV and it will find it on any of your systems.

Unboxing the Logitech Revue with Google TV

The Revue is very similar to the popular Roku digital video player in both function and size. It is surprisingly light and whisper quiet, although an internal fan did briefly kick in when I first started the device. Along with the device comes a very impressive wireless keyboard (that doubles as a remote for your whole system), as well as a 6-foot HDMI cable, power cables, and an IR blaster.

The Keyboard as a Remote

The Revue keyboard is light and made of that soft-touch rubber that has become so common with modern electronics. Since this is the only input method for the system, the keyboard also features a laptop-style touchpad and mouse buttons. Navigating with the keyboard can be done through the touch pad, arrow keys, and the Channel/Page buttons.

Across the top of the keyboard are volume controls and buttons to control your TV and DVR. The most important keys on the keyboard are the magnifying glass key on the bottom left for accessing Search (available anywhere in Google TV), and the Home button on the right side of the keyboard beneath the touchpad.

Here’s a must-have tip for the keyboard: To enable tap-to-click (which you’re probably familiar with from laptop touchpads), press and hold Left CTRL + FN + Ch/Pg Up.

Setting up the Logitech Revue and Google TV

Installing the Logitech Revue hardware and configuring Google TV isn’t difficult, but plan to spend at least 30 minutes before you can actually use the device. The installation took a little longer in my case because of my entertainment system setup (and my tireless affinity for zip ties).

After you get the Logitech Revue up and running, you’ll follow a simple 12-step process to configure Google TV for your system. This includes setting up your wireless (or wired) network, installing a mandatory system update, configuring your display, and adding any peripherals you own.

Integrating with Other Devices

The big selling point of Google TV is that you can search all of your content through one device. This is, unfortunately, where I happen to be one of the worst usage scenarios ever: I’m one of those hip kids that doesn’t have cable, satellite, or a DVR. My entertainment sources include over-the-air digital antenna, Netflix Instant Watch, and Hulu Plus, so I can’t give you a very good opinion of how the Revue integrates with your entertainment system.

Google TV comes with Netflix Instant Watch software installed by default, and Hulu Plus is “on the way” which I am eager to see. I’ve used Hulu Plus through the Roku player and have really enjoyed it.

The Logitech Revue has several IR transmitters (just like your TV’s remote control uses) across the front of the device, which is how it can control your entertainment system. This lets you issue commands through the Revue, like turning off the TV, changing channels, or adjusting the volume. If your entertainment setup doesn’t give the Revue good contact with your peripherals, an IR blaster is included to give it better range.

Streaming Video Online

Until the Android Market reaches Google TV, streaming video is done through the Chrome browser app just like you would on a computer (except for the Netflix app). The system does a great job of handling Flash video, and I was able to watch shows like Conan on TBS.com without any problems. It isn’t the most refined experience though – you need to click the small “Play” button on videos, then locate the “Play Fullscreen” button to enjoy it as you would on TV.

Amazon Video On Demand can also be streamed right through the Chrome browser. I checked out Predators via Video On Demand streaming and the quality was great. Even though the streaming is done through the browser, the media controls on the keyboard work just like you’re watching a DVD.

When the Revue first came out, there was a lot of commotion about how major networks were blocking the device from streaming video online. This is true for some websites, but it has a very simple workaround: in Chrome, press Menu, go to Settings, and change the user agent to Generic. Hulu has unfortunately fixed this loophole, but many other sites have not.

Google TV + Tivo

Written by Chris Finke

I recently had several guests over to my house, and without any prompting on my part, I saw them successfully using YouTube search, Pandora streaming, and the Netflix app, which means the Logitech Revue’s learning curve is definitely low.

The main question I heard was, “Does it record TV shows?”  Upon hearing that it doesn’t, people disappointingly said, “So it’s just like… a computer… connected to your TV?” I understand that Google TV’s stated purpose is make video and the internet easily accessible, but the fact that there’s literally nothing I can do with Google TV that I can’t do in a web browser makes it less desirable and definitely not worth the $299 price.

Except for browsing the web, my Revue doesn’t do anything my Tivo doesn’t (plus my Tivo organizes my recorded TV shows); however, I would choose to use the Revue over the Tivo every single time.  On my Tivo, accessing things like Amazon Video On Demand or YouTube search can take as much as 10 seconds, with several second stutters during every menu change. On the Revue, the interaction is smooth, and the interface is polished. It’s so easy to use that my 20-month-old son knows how to use it to watch YouTube videos of his cousins – “arrow, arrow, spacebar”, and he’s got an hour of entertainment queued up.

Given this interface improvement, I wish that Google TV was able to natively browse my Tivo’s recordings through an interface like the Netflix app. The extent of Google TV’s integration with Tivo is two buttons on the keyboard: “DVR” which brings up my Tivo’s home screen, and “Guide” which switches to the live TV feed from my Tivo and activates the Tivo’s guide (which is terribly unusable).

If user experience is what Tivo could take from the Revue, a new remote is what the Revue could take from Tivo – a keyboard is a terrible form factor for controlling a TV from a couch or other non-desk surface. Logitech would be wise to mimic Tivo’s Slide Remote or find some other way to get back to a typical remote control form factor for all of the standard TV interactions but still include a QWERTY keyboard for web browsing and video search.

First Impressions: DivX HiQ Web Player 2.1 BETA

The DivX team hopes to impress again, providing users with the highest quality video for their PC – this time taking aim at YouTube and other top video sites.  Some big features the DivX Labs are working into their newest web player are support for MP4 and MOV files, HTML5 support, and interoperability like decoding of H.264 video in Firefox.

Another thing the team is excited to announce is DXVA, or hardware acceleration support for playing videos online.  This DirectX acceleration should take a considerable load off your CPU and put your graphics card to work instead (see my own test below).

So, what does all this mean for you?  The goal is to offer your machine the best possible online video playback, and even control over some common metadata elements (like those nasty YouTube ads).  However, what you should know before deciding to try DivX’s player is that this BETA is very much a test player.  DivX Labs recognizes many of the common bugs people are already experiencing and assures users those problems will be handled effectively in a full release.

Known Issues

From the DivX Labs website:

DivX Plus Web Player 2.1 Beta contains the following known issues:

  • Buffering always shows 0% when first loading an MP4 file
  • Web Player will always buffer at least the first 2MB of data for any MP4 file regardless of bandwidth or bitrate
  • Formatting for the DivX HiQ bar is occasionally too wide and causes part of the bar to wrap around to the next line
  • DXVA H.264 decode acceleration may experience graphic corruption with older ATI and nVidia video card drivers
  • Web Player does not change video frames while seeking if DXVA is enabled
  • DivX HiQ currently only supports videos with an available MP4 formatted version of the file

Using the HiQ Web Player

In my personal opinion, DivX has made some big steps in improving web video, though I sometimes wonder if it’s worth my download time.  I get the popular “buffer hang at 0%” whenever I try to load an MP4 file, and the player has crashed both Firefox and Chromium browsers, several times each.  Many other strange bugs and oddities are prevalent in the current player, but like I said before, you’re really downloading a test product with this BETA.  The good news is that (for the most part) the HiQ web player does work, and the improvements being made really leave me anxious for a solid build in the future.

CPU usage fell between 0-4% and spiked at only 7% with DXVA enabled

DivX welcomes those who download the BETA to provide feedback in their forums.  Everything I’ve already mentioned, including more info on the player, can be found right from the DivX Labs main page with an HTML5 demo (below) and currently-supported sites.  To download the current 2.1 BETA build now, click here.

CPU usage lingered around 10% on all HTML5 demo videos

Netflix Will Soon Stream Newly-Released Movies Months Earlier

I’ve been using Netflix Instant Watch as a replacement for cable TV for the last two years, and I haven’t looked back since making the switch.  Instant Watch has been a great way to get movies and TV shows quickly, and with the rapid expansion of available content and compatible devices, it’s prime time to be a Netflix subscriber.

One big downside to Netflix is that they aren’t allowed to stream new movies during the 4 to 7 month period after they have been released on DVD, because premium cable channels have distribution rights.  Channels like HBO and Showtime use this exclusivity to keep an edge over services like Netflix, which have clearly shaken up standard business models with their watch-whenever-you-want service.

A recent 5+ year agreement with Relativity Media will soon give Netflix the ability to stream Relativity’s films as soon as they are available.  Relativity Media produces 20-30 movies a year, including recent films like “Grown Ups” and “Get Him to the Greek” and upcoming movies such as “Salt” and “The Social Network” (a David Fincher-directed movie about Facebook).

Netflix has struck deals in the past with companies like Starz to license their content, thereby avoiding competition, but haven’t been able to strike similar agreements with other content providers.  Instead of pursuing further business deals, Netflix has decided to cut out the middle man and deal directly with the production companies.  Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, explains, “It would be my preference that the pay channels all supply us their films, but this is an example of the other way to get there, which is to compete with those guys”.

My hope for the long term is that this type of action causes pay channels like HBO and Showtime to loosen their iron grip on their content.  Currently, HBO and several other premium cable channels forbid digital distribution of their content when they have exclusive rights.

Image credit: jeffgunn

YouTube Launches Online Video Editor, Lets You Quickly Edit Videos Without Installing Software

In the last several years we’ve seen a tremendous move in software development away from the desktop computer and into the internet’s “cloud”.  Standard desktop applications like email and word processors have effortlessly made the jump to your browser instead of your desktop, freeing you from installing software and many of them are often available completely without charge.

YouTube recently joined this trend by launching an online video editor which follows the mentality “video editing should be fun and easy”.

Instead of installing large, complicated video editing software, YouTube’s video editor gives you quick access to the most-used editing tools, like combining videos you’ve uploaded, trimming videos, adding soundtracks, and instant publishing.

To access the new YouTube video editor, simply visit their TestTube site (this is where the YouTube team tests new software, take some time to check it out).  Click the Try it out link under Video Editor to get started.

The YouTube video editor is extremely straightforward and offers a simple drag-and-drop interface.  You can drag any videos you’ve uploaded to YouTube to the main timeline to combine them, and a separate timeline exists below the video timeline for adding audio tracks (with a large audio library supplied under the Audio tab).

To edit clips, simply click the scissors icon that appears over each clip and drag the beginning and end markers to your desired location.

The pros: YouTube’s video editor is very simple and I was able to use it intuitively without messing around with any configurations or settings.  I grabbed clips from a video I uploaded, edited them, and added an audio track in less than 5 minutes.

The cons: It’s limited.  Don’t expect to edit anything substantial with the video editor, mainly because you are limited to a paltry 7 video clips in the timeline. Although the editor is great for trimming and combining clips, you can’t do anything with speed, volume, or effects.

Verdict: The YouTube video editor will be perfect for anybody who enjoys posting clips to YouTube or creates media like podcasts.  It gives you simple controls to edit unwanted material from your videos, combine and re-order clips, and add a soundtrack.  Want to create a Star Wars fan film?  Then you’re going to want to find something much more substantial.  Was it “fun and easy” though?  Decidedly yes.

Oh, and you can check out my sweet made-in-5-minutes video below.

[via The Official YouTube Blog]

Google Chrome Tip: How to Give Streaming Videos a Movie Theater Experience

Do you like online streaming video sites?  Me too.  I could probably spend all day watching videos of baby puppies, the hilarious auto-tuned news, or that cat that couldn’t quite jump over the baby fence.

If you want to enjoy these videos and tune out the extra stuff, the Turn Off the Lights extension for the Google Chrome web browser is worth checking out.

Turn Off the Lights is a a simple extension that gives you the option to virtually “turn out the lights” on webpages with media such as streaming video or images.  When you’re viewing certain sites with media (such as YouTube, Vimeo, Picasa, or Google Image Search), you can click the light bulb icon in the URL bar to dim everything except for the media you intended to watch.

This is also one of the best videos I've ever seen on Vimeo. You should check it out.

When in an image gallery like Google Image Search, Turn Out the Lights will dim the entire page except for the image thumbnails.

Turn Out the Lights also includes a cute easter egg.  Press T while Turn Out the Lights is enabled to turn on fake theater mode complete with red curtains and an exit sign.

Want more tips like this?  Check out the rest of our guides about Google Chrome.

Turn Your Digital Media into Web Video with Stupeflix Studio

French startup Stupeflix has just launched Stupeflix Studio which aims to turn your digital media into something more meaningful.  Stupeflix Studio lets you easily create web videos from your own pictures and videos to showcase your digital artwork, create scrapbooks, or send personal video greetings.

To get started, create a free account and you’ll be taken to the video creation page.  You’ll choose from one of three themes: Classic, Scrapbook, and Holidays.

Once you’ve chosen a theme, you can get started right away by uploading images and videos from your hard drive, Flickr, Picasa, or any web URL.

Stupeflix has a really useful web editor that allows you to customize your video and add a soundtrack using MP3s from your computer.

Once you’re finished customizing your video, you can preview your work or click the Export button to finish.

Unfortunately, the free version only lets you produce 1 minute of standard definition video, but you can purchase the full length high quality version (640×360) for $3 and the high definition version (1280×720) for $5.

You can check out my mindblowing holiday video, as well as some slightly better produced videos for the Classic, Scrapbook, and Holiday themes.

I’ve had a lot of fun with Stupeflix Studio so far and I think it has a great potential for people who want to share digital scrapbooks and photo albums but don’t want to buy professional software.

Hulu Desktop Lets You Watch TV Online Without The Browser

huludesktopthumbHulu – the mega-popular TV and movie streaming site backed by NBC, Fox, and others – has just launched a desktop application for both Windows and Mac that allows you to stream all Hulu content on your PC.

Hulu Desktop adds support for Windows Media Center and Apple remotes, which will allow you to treat your PC as an entertainment center.  Like the Hulu website, Hulu Desktop requires Adobe Flash to be installed – however, the application is written natively for Windows and Apple so no other software is required.

One of the biggest benefits Hulu Desktop provides is the ability to turn your TV-connected computer into a replacement for cable TV.  Hulu broadcasts many mainstream TV shows about a day after they air, and by hooking your computer to a TV you’ll be able to watch them just like you would if you were paying for cable.

Hulu Desktop is currently in beta and is a part of Hulu’s newly-launched Labs site.  Even if you don’t have your computer connected to a TV, Hulu Desktop still provides an improved viewing experience without having to rely on your web browser.  For an overview of the software, check out the video below:

Hulu Desktop is a free download for Windows and Mac. [Download: Windows or Mac]

System Requirements:

PC

  • Intel Pentium Core Duo 1.8GHz (or equivalent)
  • At least 2.0 GB RAM
  • 2 Mbps Internet connection or greater
  • Flash 9.0.124

Mac

  • Intel Pentium Core Duo 2.4GHz (or equivalent)
  • At least 2.0 GB RAM
  • Mac OS v10.4 (Tiger) or later
  • 2 Mbps Internet connection or greater
  • Flash 9.0.124