Originally an online video site called Grouper, it was bought by Sony Pictures Entertainment and changed into Crackle in 2007. But we don’t blame you if you haven’t heard of them. Unlike Netfl ix, Amazon and Hulu fighting for supremacy in digital subscription streaming, Crackle is content to being a free streaming website…at least for now.
There’s been not much innovation going into Crackle over the years. For instance, it doesn’t seem to have any HD content at all; everything streams in SD only with a maximum quality of 480p. It also works similarly to the free version of Hulu, where shows have advertisements interspersed throughout. You also do not need a subscription or to login. You can choose to register on Crackle; membership will allow you to customize your likes and preferences, notifications for new shows added and a saved viewing history.
However, unlike Hulu, Crackle’s entire library is available by default. Among the four contenders in our shootout, it is the only true “free” service, with no strings attached (besides ads), no subscription or pay wall.
The downside, Crackle has the least amount of content. Being owned by Sony means that a large portion of Crackle’s media library comes from Sony, most of them older movies. There are some well-known hits such as Bad Boys, Gattaca, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon or Seinfeld in there, but we notice that Crackle tends to cycle content, removing and adding shows quite frequently. TV shows in particular do not appear in their full seasons; you might find a few episodes here and there. Still, even Crackle has original produced content, such as the action thriller Chosen, which is already into its fourth season. The service is also looking to release more original productions this way, with two titles, Tightrope and Sequestered, slated for release soon.
As mentioned, Crackle is completely free. All you need to do is point your browser to www.crackle.com and you can start browsing and watching anything on its library. The interface is clean, but not immediately noticeable how large its library is, since it’s menu will only show you the weekly recommended movies. Interestingly enough, our time surfing Crackle presented us with a host of Netflix banners and ads.
Crackle also has the best coverage among all the streaming services. Besides web streaming on the desktop, it has apps for Android, iOS, nook, kindle fire, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.5/8.
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