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Hulu+ is a poor experience compared to their Flash based web application. Again, the buffering is weak on the iOS app, and decent buffering is needed to smooth out playback. Watching Hulu in this way is truly frustrating. Dialog is cut out and playback stutters. It only works well if the internet is in a good mood. Maybe Tuesday morning at 3:00 AM? The other issue is that the aspect ratio is 4:3 and content is cut off. Indeed, the notion of using an iPad and Apple TV as an entertainment center is simply a bad idea. Don’t think that “the new iPad” and a 1080p Apple TV will make this a better experience. It is frustrating!
I also must mention, in order to have a shot at a decent Hulu+ experience, I need to go through a rather lengthy process:
1. close all apps on iPad
2. shut down iPad
3. restart Apple TV 2
4. start iPad
5. watch Hulu
Hulu’s customer service told me about closing all the apps on the iPad, and I shrugged that suggestion off at first. Doesn’t multitasking on iOS just save the state of apps to the solid state drive? Why would I need to close apps and reboot? I think there are memory leaks, either within iOS or with certain apps. To free up RAM, you need to do this. So much for easy multitasking. To be fair, apart from Hulu and TuneIn radio on my iPhone 4, I am able to use the multitasking as intended. I go weeks without closing all the apps.
The one positive thing is that it is a pretty cool gaming experience, but not as good as other systems. For example, a game like Metalstorm (aviation dog fighting) has some neat functionality with AirPlay screen mirroring. When you play it via Apple TV, the iPad displays a cockpit controller, while the game play is on the TV. Indeed, there are a few games that offer this functionality. The iPad is a decent game controller, with the gyroscope and accelerometer providing motion-sensing control. This pales in comparison to what Xbox and Wii have to offer — optical sensors that allow YOU to be the game controller. Once again, the iPad has watered down offerings. There is also quite a bit of lag between moving the iPad controller and game play on TV.
It is what it is – a fad. For the smaller form, you get a lesser experience compared to a laptop. My choice, at the time, was between the iPad 2 + Apple TV 2, and a Mac Mini with a wireless keyboard. For some reason, I did not consider Windows 7 at all. Oh yeah, I was enamored with Apple at that point. I bought my iPad 2 because I loved my iPhone 4 so much! Logic and reason played little role in this decision. (continue…)