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Hulu gets a brand new video player, still no HTML5

Web TV site Hulu just introduced a new video player that's frankly pretty excellent, but the new features might be overshadowed by the ongoing debate over HTML5 support. It seems they can add all the features they want to their web player, but the users' focus is on enabling HTML5 playback so Hulu will play on iPads and iPhones. The problem isn't that HTML5 vids aren't ready for users, it's that they're not up to speed in terms of advertising and analytics (which are, um, how Hulu makes money).

Okay, so, no HTML5, but the goodies in the new player will still make Hulu watchers very happy. Adaptive bitrate streaming is one of the smartest things Hulu's ever done. This feature lets Hulu dynamically match video quality to your available bandwidth, meaning that instead of stuttering or stalling when you get some lag, Hulu will just drop the bandwidth of the video so it can keep playing.

Another feature that proves Hulu is listening to users is ad volume normalization. Sometimes ads in Hulu are so much louder than the shows that it can be startling when one comes on. No more! Now the ads are in line with the volume of the show you're watching.

Navigating is easier, thanks to thumbnail previews while you're jumping around in a video, so you can see if you've found the spot you're looking for. The player even looks better. It's all chromeless now, making for a sleek look with the controls out of the way. It's also 25% bigger by default. Basically, Hulu just stepped up its game in a huge way. Personally, I think HTML5 can wait a little bit longer if it means the Hulu devs are spending their time on stuff like this.
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Tags: flash, html5, hulu, movies, player, TV, video

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