It's the library's newest service of loaning out digital content after renting out digital music and e-books for electronic readers like the Kindle. So far, the county library is the only Utah library system to have Hoopla.
The great thing about Hoopla is that it's not just old public domain movies or bland documentaries from the 1970s like some other library services rent out. Hoopla has about 10,000 movies and television shows available through the service, and most of them are mainstream Hollywood films, many of them fairly current. You can find titles ranging from the classic "Catch-22" and "Logan's Run" to more current movies like "A Perfect World" with Kevin Costner and last year's "The Paperboy" with Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron.
Its catalog may not be as rich as Netflix's, but there are some great movies on Hoopla that aren't on Netflix, such as the classic Robert Redford movie, "The Candidate," and the charming comedy, "Local Hero" with Burt Lancaster. So it's a wonderful complement to other streaming services that doesn't cost money.
You can get Hoopla by going to its website at www.hoopladigital.com and registering with your Salt Lake County Library card. You then can view the movies on your computer's web browser or on the iPhone, iPod, iPad or Android device through an app. The only limit is you can view no more than 10 movies per month.
With such a good selection for free, it's important to be able to see these movies on a big TV screen. Hoopla's movies have digital rights management (DRM) built into each video file. It's a form of software copy protection that prevents you from copying the movies to your harddrive, your mobile device or to a disc. But you can still view them on a TV.
All you need are the appropriate cables. If you have a laptop, you can get a cable that runs from the laptop to the TV. Which cables you get depends on the type and age of your laptop and television set. The same is true for watching it from a desktop computer. Just ask the clerk at the electronics store which cable to get.
The easier way to get the video on a TV is through a mobile device such as the iPhone. You can also get a cable for your mobile device that plugs into the television. The president of Hoopla said that the company is testing an iOS version of the app will also support AirPlay, a feature with the iPhone and iPad in which you can stream the video wirelessly to the TV. And he said a future update for Android could make Hoopla compatible with Google's Chromecast, the small $35 dongle for TVs that allows you to stream the video from your Android device to your TV.
What Hoopla won't work with currently is a Roku box. In order for it to work, Hoopla would have to make a channel for the Roku that can stream the videos from the Hoopla website to a TV through the box. Right now, Hoopla hasn't done that.
If you have a tech question for Vince, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, and he'll try to answer it for his column in The Salt Lake Tribune or on its website. For an archive of past columns, go to www.sltrib.com/topics/ohmytech.