Thursday, January 08, 2009

SageTV Getting Hulu

Hulu has become one of those most asked for applications for Media Devices since Boxee added Hulu support in 2008.  At CES, SageTV was doing demos of their pre-release Hulu playback on the new SageTV HD Theater (works in HTPC extender mode or standalone mode).  Dave Zatz is covering CES in Las Vegas and was able to stop by the SageTV CES suite to check Hulu on SageTV out.  If you like Hulu and want an easy way to get it to your Television or HTPC, read on.

Those of you paying attention to GeekTonic know that Hulu on the HD200 is already possible through the PlayOn UPnP add-on.  The problem is the Playon interface on the HD200 in its current form is just plain painful to use and you have to pay Playon to use it past its trial period. 

The upcoming Hulu support in SageTV looks to be better for many reasons:

  • Hulu seems to be built into the SageTV user interface
  • Hulu will likely (not confirmed) be provided to SageTV users without paying an extra fee as you currently have to via Playon
  • The interface (according to Dave Zatz) provides simple browsing and selecting of Hulu shows - something that can't be said for the Playon implementation in the HD200.

The SageTV guys were showing the hulu support in their CES suite on the SageTV HD200 (both extender and standalone) as well as in Sagetv itself (without the extender.  Obviously this is in pre-beta so it will be a short while before it makes it to the general SageTV community.  Being in pre-beta we're not positive whether it will work on the older SageTV HD100 extenders or the really old MediaMVP extenders, but it looks like it will work with the HD200's and with HTPC's with SageTV installed - excellent news for sure.  I would guess that it will probably work with the HD100s, but we'll just have to wait to see if that pans out. 

For those wondering whether SageTV has a direct partnership or like Boxee just using the Hulu's flash player directly, I don't yet have an answer on that.  Dave Zatz commented on his blog about technical details and any possible relationship with Hulu.

Because it’s still early in development, the Sage folks were a bit reluctant to discuss the technical details. But it sounds like at some point, the service may also be offered to their original extender product… though no guarantees. Also, I’m unsure the extent of their communication or relationship with Hulu.

direct partnership or is it like Boxee where they're just using the Hulu's flash player directly.

I really expected to see Netflix Watch Now support before Hulu, but I'm happy with SageTV's choice.  Hulu is a very strong complement to the SageTV's  HTPC program.  You already can watch liveTV, recorded TV, timeshift your TV, commercial detect your TV content etc.  Now you can catch those shows you forgot to record or just can't find on the air - right from your TV (with SageTV) and your remote thanks to Hulu.  The biggest downside to Hulu on the TV is it's 480p streaming quality, but hey - it's an additional source of content that is free.  Very hard to argue with that.


Check out the hands-on report on the Hulu/SageTV interface from ZatzNotFunny at CES - several photos included


Speaking of CES, be sure and subscribe to ZatzNotFunny so you can keep up with Dave Zatz reports from CES.  He's working hard to bring the best stuff from CES.  Zatz's Twitter feed is a must-follow as well for CES News