With the exception of its Blu-ray player and the games Heavy Rain and Little Big Planet, until recently, the Sony (s SNE) PlayStation3 didn’t offer any real advantages over other gaming devices or set-top boxes. That all changed, however, when the PS3 got dibs on Hulu Plus, making it the first console capable of streaming Hulu’s epic catalog of content to one’s TV.
Thus, once I received a beta invite to Hulu Plus, I decided to take it out for a spin using my own PS3, the video evidence of which is below.
As mentioned in the video, the process of getting access to PlayStation Plus, the premium content system required in order to access the Hulu Plus beta, turned out to be a two-day-long series of annoyances, due entirely to Sony’s incredibly broken credit card authorization system, which makes it super-difficult to put money on your PlayStation account.
I ultimately resorted to going out and buying a PlayStation Network prepaid card, but the overall experience (including two frustrating phone calls with Sony technical support) definitely soured me on Hulu Plus before I’d even gotten a chance to use it.
The UI has its flaws, but it loads fast and is easy to navigate, and the breadth of content is way beyond what Hulu currently offers (cut for time: me reveling in the discovery of old Fox series like M.A.N.T.I.S., available in full). While some shows seemed to have the same number of commercials as the free version of Hulu, some had fewer or — in the case of the first season 30 Rock episode I test out here — none.
In short, the back catalog alone could be worth $9.99 a month to the hardcore television fan, and once the fall season gets started it’s not hard to see how this could be a cable replacement. The catch is that in order to gain access you have to get through Sony first, and acquiring PlayStation Plus proved thoroughly frustrating.
Frankly, if you don’t already own a PS3, you might exercise some patience and hold out for another option. Xbox 360 owners, early 2011 isn’t that far away.
Related GigaOm Pro Content (subscription required): Three Reasons Hulu Plus is No Threat to Netflix