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Hulu Plus on the Samsung BD-C6900

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Image quality

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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
You can also filter shows by network as another way to find what you're looking for.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
Hulu Plus also includes a most popular section, so you can find what other users are streaming the most.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET

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.

Caption by / Photo by Matthew Moskovciak/CNET
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