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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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March 12, 2008 12:03 PM

Hulu goes live, watch out iTunes/Unbox/Netflix/XboxLive/Comcast

Posted by Brier Dudley

Finally, the Hulu online video service is open to the public, offering free and legal TV shows and movies online.

It's not a universal collection, but for the casual video watcher, there's enough free stuff to keep you out of the video store (online or off) for months.

The joint venture of NBC and News Corp. is run largely by a group of former Seattle techie -- from and Microsoft -- as detailed in this column from November.

Special tricks include the ability to extract clips -- the funny bits from a show, for instance -- and share them with friends or post on a blog or Web site. Expect to see Hulu excerpts all over the Web soon.

But what's really amazing to me is how many relatively new movies the site is offering for free.

On movie night, it's going to become the first stop for cheapskates accustomed to watching movies pulled from the Web. Why pay for a download when you're just trying to kill a few hours?

(It seems pretty busy today, by the way. I re-registered a few minutes ago and the site hung up, though it may have been my browser and the lunchtime bandwidth surge. After I stopped the "not running" process and returned to the site, my registration was intact and I was welcomed back by name.)

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Gadgets and games | Fun stuff I've written about lately includes Apple's iPhone, Hewlett-Packard's HDX laptop and Microsoft's Halo3. Also on the radar are new digital video boxes such as the Tivo HD and the Vudu.