The days of browsing books at your local library are slowly fading into extinction. While there are many people that prefer the look and texture of a physical book, the millennial generation has moved more and more towards their digital counterparts. Many of the libraries in the US do not maintain digital archives of their media. This is where services like Hoopla come into play.
Hoopla works in conjunction with your local library to offer digital titles. With your library card, you can borrow a certain number of titles from their collection per month. That amount is determined by your library. Hoopla offers ebooks, comics, movies, TV shows, audiobooks, and music, but the available content will depend largely on your library. My library, for example, does not provide comics or ebooks but does offer everything else.
The design of the application is fairly easy, but they could have done so much more. Personally I would like to see some settings for parental controls and video quality. Another feature would be to have options in the sidebar to select the type of media that you want to browse, but that’s not a deal killer for me. The home page lists available media and groups them into categories. There is a link to the right that will allow you to view all the media in the selected categories.
E-books and comics:
E-books and comics are available for 21 days at a time. They have a large selection of books and comics. You’re sure to find something interesting to read. Just don’t expect to find the latest and greatest novels or comics.
Audiobook titles, like the e-books and comics, are available for 21 days at a time. I personally was not able to stream the book directly through the mobile app. This was remedied by downloading the book directly and then playing in through the application. The audio quality was good, but there was an occasional blip here and there. My biggest complaint is that there are no chapter points programmed into the book. They do have a system of user generated bookmarks and the player will pick up where you left off, but it would be nice to be able to jump to a specific chapter in the book.
Movies and TV:
The video quality is good, but they do not offer HD content at this time. I have been assured that they are working on implementing this in the near future. Most titles are available for 72 hours after you check them out, but a few titles are only available for 48 hours. It streams fairly well and I experienced no buffering. The catalog is fairly large but is by no means an exhaustive catalog. The good news is that there are several modern titles to choose from. The bad news is that there is no support at this point for Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire TV.
Albums are available for 7 days. The quality is good, but like the audiobook player, the music player app experiences the occasional blip. Just like with the audio books. I had to download the album first to listen to the music. The catalog has several newer titles, but just like your local library, you may not find everything you’re looking for.
Overall this is a great app that is still in its infancy. They have new features like HD video streaming and Chromecast support that are in the works. They are also continually looking for new content providers to keep things fresh. The service is cross-platform and can be easily picked up from one device to another.
Is this a replacement for services like Amazon Prime, Audible, Google Play, Hulu Plus, or Netflix? At this point, the answer is no. However; to those whose library does offer Hoopla, this is a great alternative or supplement to these services. The best part is that it is 100% free to use and there are no ads that come with it.
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