Hulu has never been a friend to workplace efficiency, but now it’s taking things to a whole new level. The streaming video site has just introduced a new desktop application, letting users watch the site’s catalog of films and TV shows without the use of a Web browser.
The application acts a lot like Windows Media Center, letting you control your viewing experience with an Apple remote or Windows Media remote (or, for traditionalists, your keyboard and mouse). You may not be able to stream live television, but it’s an easy way to catch up on that episode of “House” you missed last night.
Desktop loads fast and has a great user interface. Want to skip to a particular scene? Thumbnails pop up as you move your mouse along the scrubber. Want to get information about what you’re watching, turn on close captioning or submit a rating? Just click the screen to pause all of those options (and more) are at your fingertips. (Click on the thumbnail above for a closer look.)
The menu structure of the application is well laid-out, as well, giving you a number of ways to find content that’s of interest.
The downside? You’re going to need some horsepower to run Hulu Desktop. The system requires 2 GB of RAM and a 1.8Ghz processor for the PC or 2Ghz processor for Mac users. You’ll also need an Internet connection of at least 2Mbps.
A boatload of free time might come in handy, too.
What’s particularly interesting about this is people with wide screen monitors can now watch Hulu programming fullscreen, recreating the living room television experience. It won’t replace TV as we know it anytime soon, but it’s a notable step forward for Hulu.