A wide selection of supported platforms but a modest library; Wuaki.tv doesn't offer anything special
Platforms: Web, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Smart TVs, Android, iOS Content: Max 720p quality without 5.1 or closed captions
Wuaki.tv is one of the newer kids on the streaming block, as it was first launched in Spain in 2010. The service arrived in the UK in 2013 after being bought out by Japanese internet giant Rakuten, which also bought out Play.com in 2011. Wuaki.tv launched in the UK with a Netflix-style pay-per-month model, but this was quickly abandoned and replaced by its current pay-per-view system in 2014.
The service will likely be familiar to EE customers, as EE now offers one £1 Wuaki.tv rental for its customers every week. This offer took over from the cultural phenomenon that was Orange Wednesdays.
At last count, Wuaki.tv had 20,000 titles available. How this breaks down between films and TV programmes is unclear, but it’s a moderately sized library that consistently has the latest films on offer for both purchase and rental. However, there’s a rather large elephant in the room if you’re looking to buy a title to keep forever.
‘Buying’ from Wuaki.tv only licences a piece of content to you for three years, and not a day longer, which makes a mockery of the purchase process. It’s not entirely unforgivable, though; all the other services we’ve reviewed have similar terms and conditions that give them the right to remove content from your library if they lose the rights to it. It just so happens that Wuaki.tv has put a definite time limit on it.
Essentially, this means your options are a three-year rental or a 30-day rental, although the latter requires you to finish watching within 48 hours once you’ve pressed play, which is common for online rental services.
Pricing is largely in line with other services, with new films costing £4.49 to rent and £13.99 to ‘buy’. A new TV programme such as Game of Thrones will set you back £22.99 for a full season, and you can also purchase a season pass while a series is ongoing, so each episode is added to your library as it becomes available.
Most content is available in HD with stereo sound. Wuaki wouldn’t give us a straight answer about whether 1080p content is available, but did confirm that HD content is always 720p. Wuaki.tv has started rolling out Ultra HD (4K) content on its smart TV apps in Europe, but this feature has yet to make it to UK shores.
English subtitles for the hard of hearing are not available on any videos. Wuaki.tv said in February 2014 that it was “actively looking” at subtitles, but there’s been no update since then, which is a shame.
Given that Wuaki.tv only supports a maximum of 720p on any platform, it’s always going to be at a disadvantage versus Blu-ray. In our zoomed-in comparison shots, things aren’t as bad as we expected but still not particularly impressive compared to the likes of iTunes and Amazon.
Edges are soft and details aren’t well defined, but colour reproduction is reasonably good, although contrast and subtle shading is lost. Where its rivals are offering Full HD for the same price, it’s hard to see where choosing Wuaki.tv is a better choice.
Click on either image below for a larger view.
Wuaki.tv’s strongest suit is its availability on a large number of devices although, as always, there are some limitations. For example, web browser streaming on both Windows and Mac computers is only in SD. Wuaki.tv claims to offer HD streaming on its Windows 8.1 app, but at the time of writing, the app is unable to connect to Wuaki.tv’s servers, which doesn’t bode particularly well.
One strength of the Wuaki.tv store is that it clearly marks titles that will soon be unavailable for rental. There’s a dedicated section called ‘last chance’ so you can grab a last-minute rental of that film you’ve been meaning to see before it disappears.
The Android app lets you stream rented and purchased titles in HD. You can also download your purchased content to watch offline; this feature is only available on a small number of devices, but does include some big hitters such as the Tesco Hudl 2 and Samsung and Sony’s flagship smartphones. The full list can be found at tinyurl.com/wuakiofflineandroid. If your device isn’t on the list, you can attempt to sign up to Wuaki.tv’s beta programme to get yourself a version of the app that allows offline watching. The Android app is well laid out and it’s easy to browse films by genre and director. The only frustration is that you’re not shown the HD price of a purchase until you’ve tapped the Buy button and entered your payment information. Until that point, you can only see the more attractive SD price.
There are no offline limitations on iOS. You can stream, download and watch content offline on all iOS devices, which is handy when you’re on the move, but you are limited to SD resolutions. You do not, however, have access to the Wuaki.tv store from the app, so you’ll need to make your purchases in a web browser.
Games console access is limited to the Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles, with PlayStation users currently left out in the cold. Both Xbox apps let you stream content in 720p, and for some reason the Xbox One version includes four achievements that’ll earn you zero points towards your GamerScore.
Wuaki.tv and Amazon Instant Video have the largest smart TV presence of all the services we’ve seen. You’ll find a Wuaki.tv app either preinstalled or available on Panasonic, LG, Sony and Samsung app stores. These apps all allow you to browse, rent, buy and stream content in HD. You’ll also find Wuaki.tv on your EE TV box. Wuaki.tv is also compatible with Apple AirPlay and Google Cast, so you can watch it on your Apple TV and Google Chromecast via your tablet or smartphone.
Wuaki.tv has made a huge push in the UK in the last couple of years, but a modest library and maximum 720p-quality video means it doesn’t offer anything you can’t find elsewhere at the same price. Its library is at least well laid out and if you’re an EE subscriber, it’s the only place to get HD rentals of new films for £1, which is a huge selling point. If you’re not with EE, though, you can find better-quality content and a larger range from iTunes and Google Play.
|HD Film (rent/buy)||£4.49/13.99|
|SD Film (rent/buy)||£3.49/£9.99|
|HD TV series (buy only)||£22.99|
|SD TV series (buy only)||£16.99|
|Rental period||48 hours|
|Time to finish watching||48 hours|
|5.1 surround sound||No|
|Web/PC/Mac||Web: Windows and Mac SD streaming. Windows 8.1 app: 720p streaming|
|Amazon Fire TV||No|
|Amazon Kindle Fire||No|
|Games consoles||Xbox 360, Xbox One: 720p streaming|
|Smart TV/box manufacturer support||Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, LG, EE|
|Smart TV/box quality||720p|
|iOS||SD streaming and downloads|
|Apple TV/AirPlay||No/Yes (720p)|
|Android||SD streaming and downloads|