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Monthly Archives: June 2009

To the wonderful people at Hulu working on the new Hulu Desktop Beta:

It seems the performance of Hulu Desktop is degrading very badly for my system. It doesn’t have the best graphics hardware but I’ve been watching Hulu desktop happily since it came out and it has never been this bad. My system is a Thinkpad R61 which I received from my university one year ago. It has Intel 965 Express graphics and a Core 2 Duo @ 1.8ghz with a gig of RAM. Running Windows XP SP3. All nonessential programs and services including antivirus disabled has no effect, and my application performance monitor, which is the excellent Process Explorer from the Sysinternals group at Microsoft indicates that Hulu desktop is the only process which is consuming any sort of CPU over the entire runtime of videos on Hulu desktop.

This is not network saturation, the buffering is typically full. This is not an audio issue either, as it continues to be as good as ever. Just the video is choppy, noticeably below 30fps.

In sharp contrast to the bad performance of the 480p content being served to me via your software, my current system performs very well on all Flash video sites via my browser. Watching 720p HD on Youtube is flawless, watching an upscaled 480p video from IGN is on par with what I’d expect from this system, and watching the HD gallery or any of the 480p content at the Hulu website runs perfectly. The primary difference between my browser and Hulu Desktop is that the former uses Flash 10 and the latter uses Flash 9. A much smaller difference is the intensity of the Hulu Desktop application compared to Youtube, IGN, Hulu’s own web player, or any other Flash video player, especially for a computer which is quite capable of playing comparatively graphically intense video games like Spore and any of the Prince of Persia Sands of Time games at high resolution.

Flash 10 delivered impressive performance enhancements for online video viewers who had any sort of decent graphics chipset, because it improved seriously upon the ability for Flash to accelerate video playback, scaling, and processing.

How would Hulu make it better? They would move to Flash 10, as soon as humanly possible. How could they make this better for us in the mean time? They could return the FLASH QUALITY controls until the Hulu Desktop team is ready to move to Flash 10.

How would this help, you ask? The Flash “Quality” setting in the context menu of all standard Flash movies changes the *Rendering* quality, not the video quality. Setting it to low turns off *antialiasing* on fonts, vectors, and anything else. It still does basic compositing, so you can still use video overlays and see translucent items properly, but you get the once infamous jaggies at the edge of stuff.

Personally, I would prefer lack of antialiasing if I could avoid missing yet *another* critical second of the amazing dramas and other fine television shows this service offers me. At the very least, turning the Flash Quality menu back on is nothing more than the flip of a switch and an update. Whatever the reasons are for being shackled to Flash 9, if you insist on bundling an outdated version of your application platform, at least give us the ability to squeeze some sort of reasonable experience out it!

Despite this protest, I still thank you greatly for making a very enjoyable service and for launching Hulu Desktop as an open beta as early as you did, even though the whole range of Hulu promotions has not yet been integrated. I use Hulu for almost all of my television consumption and have been overall blown away by the excellent content, good video quality, perhaps too reasonable of an advertising experience, and the firm embrace of Web 2.0 functionality. I hope that you’ll take these points into consideration.

Sincerely, your humble user & alien food, who was HBB (here before Baldwin),

user account rezonant
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