Hulu.com features browser-based viewing powered by Adobe Flash technology. While you're watching a video there, both the video and all your viewer controls are built into the same interactive Flash presentation. Compatible Web browsers include Internet Explorer 6.0 and higher, Firefox 1.5 and higher, and Safari 2.0 and higher. In addition, the locally installed Flash player must be version 9.0.115 or higher, with version 22.214.171.124 or higher required for Hulu's higher resolution streams [source: Hulu].
When you first open Hulu.com, you're shown a slideshow of popular choices, surrounded by various search and filter options. View the "Channels" or "Collections" lists to browse videos by category, or click the links scattered throughout the page to select from popular, featured, or recently added items. To search for something specific, enter that information in one of the search text boxes. Click the linked name or thumbnail of a video to play it, and follow Hulu's suggestions at the end to watch other videos you might enjoy.
To address the intellectual property and licensing issues that come with providing video content internationally, Hulu uses geo-blocking to limit site access to viewers within the United States. If you access Hulu content from a blocked geographic region, then instead of a Flash video, you'll receive a friendly message of apology encouraging you to stay informed about the availability of content in your area. Hulu's support site states that their intention is to "make Hulu's growing content lineup available worldwide as quickly as possible" [source: Hulu]. If you are in the U.S. and mistakenly encounter a block, Hulu asks you to complete an information form for Hulu support.
Hulu makes it easy for users to keep up with its most recent news. The company launched Hulu Labs in late May 2009 to highlight Hulu's latest developments. Headlining Hulu Labs is the beta release of the Hulu Desktop, which is free software that you can download and install on your computer. Hulu Desktop eliminates the need to open your Web browser to watch Hulu videos. The Hulu Desktop is built on the Adobe AIR* framework, which is also free and can run on most computers.
Next, we'll explore the user experience at Hulu.com, including subscriptions, queues and features for feedback and sharing.