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If you find the Apple Remote cumbersome for typing in search queries, you can control your Apple TV with the Apple Remote app for iOS. It’s free, and allows you to use the virtual keyboard on your iPad or iPhone to type on your Apple TV. It does more than that, but that’s another story…
Hulu and Netflix both offer computer-based viewing. Netflix uses a web-based solution. Hulu has both a web-based video player, and desktop software (Hulu Desktop). Hulu Desktop allows Windows and Mac users to control Hulu with a remote control, such as the Apple Remote.
Hulu Plus offers an innovative feature called Face Match. It recognizes the face of an actor and provides a short bio and link to Wikipedia. While cool, it is limited to a few shows and only works on the desktop versions. It has a future, but at this point it is a gimmick.
I’d have to give Netflix the edge on full computers. I think Silverlight is better than Flash. I think the video quality is better, and it is more stable. Hulu uses Flash, as it enables them to insert interactive ads in their content. Unfortunately, Flash is not stable, which is why Apple refused to include it on iOS. I’d have to agree. My Mac is virtually flawless, apart from Flash occasionally bugging out. Unfortunately, iTunes has crashed on me a few times. Apple doesn’t mind including iTunes on iPads and iPhones! Other than that, it’s a solid machine. Mac OS X is far more solid and stable than Windows. Apps can crash, but it happens rarely. My Mac has never frozen or crashed entirely, which happened at least once a month with Windows.
Hulu’s iPhone, iPad and computer-based offerings are better than their Apple TV app. Hulu’s Apple TV app is quite usable, and I have used it extensively. You will experience occasional video glitches and even a crash once in a while. It’s a relatively new app. In time, it will get better, but it can be frustrating. Overall, Netflix has better app quality. Their Apple TV app, in particular, is virtually flawless and a joy to use.
When you sign up for either service, you can watch on any device you own, for no extra cost. I find this very handy when I am not at home. They both work quite well on my iPhone 4 over a 3G connection.
In addition to better overall app quality, Netflix has more extensive support of subtitles. Hulu Plus offers closed captioning and subtitles where available — content and devices. Unlike Netflix, Hulu Plus for Apple TV, and iOS devices (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad) has no subtitles or closed captioning. Not every program has subtitles or closed captioning. I find this immensely useful when I am watching a program on my iPhone in a noisy environment (public transportation) without headphones. (continue…)