Windows only: Sure, almost all the offerings on NBC Direct can be watched at streaming site Hulu. But if you’re an HD fiend and want offline access, NBC Direct’s player might be worth checking out.
NBC Direct is definitely powered by DRM and ad-powered software, so if you’re not cool with that, well, you probably know a few other places to look (like, er, Hulu). But if you dig the idea of subscribing to, and downloading higher-quality videos of your favorite NBC shows, it’s not a bad way of getting them guilt-free.
About NBC’s definition of HD:
Standard Quality videos are available for download at 360p resolution while registered myNBC users will have the option to download High Quality video at 720p resolution.
Thanks to wqwert for the clarification!
Installing NBC Direct means downloading a little applet, which then puts an add-on into your Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox browser, and runs a system tray applet to download and watch shows offline. When you’re connected, it seems, you’re also a peer source for other NBC Direct users:
Once the installation starts rolling, you’ll be asked to close down your browser. NBC Direct downloads and plays its shows through your browser, and it plugs in a rights-restricted media handler to do so (pictured at right).
When you launch NBC Direct from a shortcut or by heading to nbc.com/video, you’ll get a pretty easy-to-follow menu of offerings. The full episodes and clips offered tend to follow the Hulu model—usually a few episodes back from the most recently aired episode of current marquee series, and fuller archives of kitsch/nostalgia shows, like Miami Vice. From any video, you can click to download, subscribe to the series (which starts downloads automatically, assuming you haven’t killed the NBC auto-starting tray applet), and switch to bigger views:
Even when you’re “offline” to watch a show, though, you’re getting some ads. The one complaint I’d make about NBC’s video site, versus Hulu, is that they take “fullscreen” to mean something less than literal. Here’s an episode of The Office, in HD, set to “Fullscreen.” There’s actually a bunch more space at the bottom and right-hand side, but I clipped it for Lifehacker page constraints:
If you’re planning to be away from a net connection for a while and want to catch up, NBC Direct’s not a bad option, and it does offer good quality shows for free. It’s free to use, sign-up required.
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