Everytime somebody has said that Hulu killed TV, they were exaggerating. Until now maybe. Hulu Desktop sure looks a whole lot like the future of TV.
AU: Goddamn I wish we had Hulu...
It's a media centre type of application—like Front Row or Boxee or Netflix or Windows Media Center—that gives you full access to Hulu with an Apple Remote or Windows Media remote or just your keyboard and mouse. In other words, freed from the constraints of the browser, it's like real TV. The app is beautiful, fast, easy to navigate and simply amazing—everything you'd expect from Hulu, honestly.
There are thumbnail previews that pop up as you move alongside the scrubber, like Netflix's streaming app. You can queue episodes too—you need a Hulu account for this. There are bunch of different ways to find content: via search, Hulu channels, by studio alphabetically or just through suggestions.
There are ads, but that's part of it simulating TV, no? Also, all of the usual Hulu catches do apply—only a few episodes back catalog of current shows, your favourite shows could vanish at a corporate whim, that kind of thing, which keep it from totally replacing your cable subscription for some people. That said, it+Netflix have definitely helped me live without TV for the last couple of years, though I still miss being able to flop in front of the History Channel for a couple of hours on weekends sometimes.
One other small gripe so far is that the onscreen keyboard looks a bit small to punch with a remote, but ideally, you won't need it very often. It's also not a light application, as you can see:
It's available for Mac and PC, though you need a relatively modern machine (2GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 2Mbps internet connection). There are a few more goodies at Hulu Labs as well, like time-based browsing. Hulu Desktop's definitely gotten us pretty excited, but at the very least, it's worth checking out, and makes us even more hyped for that iPhone app, since it shows Hulu's not going to stop at just one screen. [Hulu Desktop]