Eyes-on with Hulu for Gear VR

The streaming service now offers a "big-screen" viewer for Samsung Gear VR owners. Here's what I thought of the experience.

The Samsung Gear VR is rapidly shaping up to be the preferred VR headset for folks who don't have $600-$800 to spend on an Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. Outfitted with the headset and a compatible smartphone, you can enjoy some Oculus-style experiences for a fraction of the cost.

The latest: Hulu. The streaming service just released an app for Gear VR, meaning your virtual big-screen viewing options are no longer limited to Netflix.

Like that app, Hulu for Gear VR plunks you down in a simulated living room (or, if you prefer, a movie theater or private beach) to watch anything and everything Hulu has to offer -- plus some exclusive VR content. What's the experience like? Hey, it's tough when your job requires you to watch streaming media for hours on end, but somebody's gotta do it.

hulu-app-in-oculus-store.jpg

The Hulu app has arrived in the Oculus Store for Gear VR.

Hulu

For starters, Hulu for Gear VR requires a Hulu subscription. Assuming you already have the regular Hulu app on your phone and you're signed into your account, the VR version will take you straight to content.

That content is divided into four categories: TV, movies, trailers and VR. This last leads you to a smattering of clips and short films -- and if you're a fan of "Survivorman," you'll definitely want to see what it's like to join Les Stroud in the wild instead of just watching it in 2D.

Speaking of which, if you've ever tried the Netflix app, Hulu works very similarly. The "movie screen" fills almost your entire field of vision, giving you a view that even a giant-screen TV can't match. It's a hoot to watch, say, "The Last Man on Earth" or "Inside Amy Schumer" with your virtual nose pressed against the screen.

Two problems. First, as with most VR, the images look a little grainy. Second, it's just uncomfortable to wear the headset for long stretches, even the average 22-minute sitcom. These aren't problems with the app; they're the limitations of current-gen headsets. Someday they'll be lighter and more comfortable, with higher-resolution displays.

There is one issue with the Hulu app itself, however: It doesn't pause video when you take off the headset. One of the great things about the Gear VR is that it senses when it's on or off your head. The Netflix app auto-pauses as it should; Hulu needs to get that glitch ironed out.

Even so, if you have a Gear VR and Hulu subscription, this is definitely something you'll want to try.

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