February 13, 2009
| by Julie Jacobson
ReQuest appears to have the first high-performance media server with Hulu built in.
A pioneer of integration-friendly music and movie servers, ReQuest now has a free Hulu app that lets users access thousands of free TV episodes, movies and other content from the comfort of their couch.
Anything that can be done from a computer desktop can now be accomplished with a simple IR remote.
The solution was “not at all easy” to develop, says ReQuest CEO Peter Cholnoky. That’s because Hulu has a PC-centric, mouse-driven interface, and ReQuest wanted something that was more TV-friendly.
“We think we put together a really simple interface,” Cholnoky says. “It’s all IR-based – up, down, left, right, enter.”
ReQuest did the dirty work on the back end to offer navigation tools that Hulu alone does not provide. “You can fast-forward and skip really easily,” says Cholnoky. “There’s no Mickey Mouse-stuff involved at all.”
There’s an on-screen text-search engine, as well.
In the ReQuest scheme, users can tag favorite shows using a simple IR remote. “You can put any shows into ‘My Shows’ and it is automatically updated as new episodes come online,” Cholnoky explains. “We do all of that tagging. You never have to go to the Hulu site.”
Furthermore, he says, users need not mess with full-screen toggles. Once you select a show, “it just starts playing through the entire thing at full screen. You can fast-forward, reverse, jump around, etc., with a simple IR remote.”
ReQuest already added YouTube to the line up last year, as well as photos, Web cameras, stock tickers and other widgets. The Hulu interface is available today via a free download.
Currently the software works with ReQuest’s IMC (Intelligent Music and Movie Client). Up to four IMCs (15 when coupled with an approved NAS) can be connected through the home network to a ReQuest server, delivering 1080p video throughout the house. Users can access music and videos (including DVDs stored on the server) from any ICM in the home.
The ReQuest IMC retails for $2,495 and requires a ReQuest server, sold separately.
Julie Jacobson is co-founder of EH Publishing and currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro, mostly in the areas of home automation, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. She majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. Julie is a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player with the scars to prove it. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson.