Skyfire Review

Having heard about Skyfire on AppleInsider, I thought it sounded interesting but had no reason to try it–until I was on a vacation with no computer or wifi.  When Hulu Plus failed to deliver, I thought I’d spend the $3 to give Skyfire a chance.

First up attempt, Sherlock on PBS.

Watch the full episode. See more Masterpiece.

Two immediate problems. 1) We had left off at about 20 minutes in, but the video in Skyfire offered no way scrub to that location. 2) Audio not sync’d with video, off by about 1.5 seconds.

Second attempt, Fringe on Fox.  This worked, although I did get interrupted, and had to come back to it.  After which I had to start the video from the beginning again because of the lack of the scrub bar to seek to a location.  But at least the audio was synched and the picture looked pretty good for 3G.

Bottom line: $3 price tag is the upper limit of what I’d pay for this.  At least it’s a one-time cost and the service will hopefully improve with time.  The real value here is not the browser, but the backend service to transcode Flash videos.

Hulu Plus Review

I’ve gotten very spoiled by Hulu.  They make is possible for me to not subscribe to cable (or even have an over-the-air antenna, for that matter), yet keep watching TV, while enduring only a fraction of the commercials–all for free.  The normal downsides of requiring a computer and watching a day later aren’t really issues for me.  I usually always have a computer nearby, and, with a newborn,  watching anything uninterrupted is a rarity.

This is what makes Hulu Plus a hard sell: Paying for TV and still having to watch ads.  But, there was the perfect storm of vaca w/o laptop or wifi, Hulu Plus offering free trial week, and a couple show backlogs.  So, I decided to give it a shot.

What isn’t immediately clear until you sign up for Hulu Plus, is that not all shows that are available on Hulu are available on your device (iPhone in my case), dealbreakers for me were: Psych, Fringe, and Chuck.

Aside from all the shenanigans with the subscription costs and ads, the app itself was a little buggy.  It outright crashed a handful of times, and often I would have sections of a show pause, buffer, repeat from about 15 seconds, and then pause at the same place again.  These could have been related to the 3G connection instead of wifi, but that’s really no excuse.  The plus side of the bugginess is that the ads rarely worked either.

Oh, and on an iPhone 3GS, the Hulu Plus app doesn’t allow output to TV via Apple AV cable.

Bottom line: With limited device content, bugginess, no TV out, and adverts, still not worth the reduced cost of $8/mo.

Starting anew…

I’ve trashed by old self-hosted Drupal site.  It was just too much hassle to make sure that my home machine was always-on, fully patched, etc.  I’m now hosting at Dreamhost. The move required a few changes to my MX records, … Continue reading