For a while now we've had a computer hooked up to our large screen television and stereo system. A couple months back I upgraded the motherboard, CPU, and memory so that we could start using the Windows 7 release candidate and Windows Media Center on it. The new hardware also meant we could play back high definition video.
Aside from playing back photos in Picasa and various video files, we also stream music using Pandora or play from our library using WinAMP or Media Center. For streaming video, we'd been using Hulu a bit (which is Flash based) and Netflix (which is Silverlight).
Yesterday we tried out Hulu Desktop and attempted to watch the Glee pilot. Hulu desktop crashed on the first run after install (could be a Windows 7 issue) but then ran fine upon restarting it. But the video quality was low and quite jerky. It used a lot of CPU too. This made me wonder if it was really taking advange of the video capabilities of our system.
It was bad enough that we switched to watching the show using the browser-based streaming. Hitting the full-screen high quality version acually played better there and used less CPU. So the desktop application clearly needs some performance tuning.
I compare all of this with Netflix streaming which uses Silverlight and the difference is clear, even in 720p resolution we tend to keep our display set to. Microsoft has done a good job of tuning Silverlight for video. If I recally, they have very good H264 support built-in.
That said, I'm glad to see Hulu Desktop out. It makes a lot of sense to have an app that can be controlled via IR remote instead of the wireless keyboard we had been using.
Posted by jzawodn at May 29, 2009 09:46 AM