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Hulu Plus on the Samsung BD-C6900 (photos)

CNET takes a hands-on look at the new premium Hulu Plus service on the Samsung BD-C6900 Blu-ray player.

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Matthew_Moskovciak.jpg

Matthew Moskovciak

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1 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Hulu Plus on the Samsung BD-C6900

Hulu Plus on the BD-C6900 looks much different than Hulu on the Web; it's a 10-foot user interface that shows less information at once, but it's easy to navigate with a remote control. The initial screen has a carousel of featured content and there are several categories to browse from on the bottom, such as Browse TV, Recently Added, Most Popular, and Queue.
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2 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Browse TV

If you select Browse TV, there are several additional filters ("TV Shows with Full Episodes," "All TV Shows," "Networks"), plus the ability to sort alphabetically. The shows are aligned horizontally--like Netflix's standard-streaming interface--with a photo, the overall user rating of the show, and a short description. Clicking on a show brings up a similar interface, with all of the episodes listed.
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3 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Picture-in-picture while browsing

If you're watching a program and go back to browsing, the video you're watching continues playing in small window in the upper-right-hand corner, which feels pretty slick.
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4 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Sort by network

You can also filter shows by network as another way to find what you're looking for.
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5 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Most popular

Hulu Plus also includes a most popular section, so you can find what other users are streaming the most.
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6 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Recently added

We didn't find the recently added section to be that useful; much of the content isn't that interesting, with the exception of movie trailers.
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7 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Search

There's also a search, which works reasonably well; popular shows like "30 Rock," "24," and "The Office" showed up for us. On the other hand, entering search terms is predictably tedious via the virtual keyboard; you're better off searching on a laptop and adding shows to your queue.
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8 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Queue

The queue itself is a good idea, although we'd advise being judicious about what you put there. We loaded up our queue with a couple of old TV series we liked, but were overwhelmed to find that all the episodes were listed in the queue; there are no folders for shows or seasons, and scrolling past 20 or so episodes horizontally is tiring. That's unfortunate, because the Hulu Web site does a great job of grouping shows and seasons together.
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9 of 9 Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

Image quality

Though it varies significantly from program to program, overall we were very impressed with Hulu Plus' image quality. Shows like "Lost" and "Arrested Development" were comparable with what you'd see on an HD cable channel. There are very few compression artifacts on shows listed as "HD," and even a room full of picky CNET editors agreed that it looked "good enough." That's impressive, especially considering we were watching on a 58-inch plasma. We did notice that some shows, such as "Parks and Recreation," seemed to be considerably softer overall (even though its listed as an "HD" program), looking more like DVD-level image quality with occasional jaggies visible. Like any streaming-video service, image quality also depends on your Internet connection and home network.

As a side note, image quality purists will also note that Hulu Plus doesn't completely fill the screen if your HDTV is set to "dot-by-dot" mode; there are very slim black bars on all sides of the image. It's easily fixed by switching the TV to a mode with slight overscan (on our Samsung PN58B650, it's called "16:9"), but we would prefer a true screen-filling picture. Still, that's a nitpick, as we didn't notice it at all once we switched modes.

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