This will be my review of 3 legitimate kdrama streaming sites: Viki.com; dramafever.com & crunchyroll.com. I will not be reviewing dailymotion, youtube, dramacrazy etc. However, I will briefly touch on hulu.com. I’ve never reviewed anything so they may be a bit weird because I’m talking about what Kaekae likes and dislikes about them.
Full disclaimer: I don’t really use crunchyroll on a regular basis because others have the dramas I want. And that may be all you need to know, crunchyroll has a ton of animes etc., and while their selection of kdramas is pretty good, everything I wanted to see was available at viki, dramafever or hulu. So for me, it was a why bother.
Their mobile app requires a subscription, so I can’t touch on that.
If you like animes, then definitely check out crunchyroll, but for kdramas only – not really worth it.
Full disclaimer, again: I’m a Dramafever premium member – a year’s subscription was my Christmas present to myself last year, and I haven’t regretted it. I like watching without commercials. (This isn’t an ad; just a fact.)
Dramafever has an excellent selection of kdramas, plus other Asian (and now South American) dramas. They have simulcasts of some of the more popular shows (or shows that are expected to be popular). They are very active on Twitter and Facebook, so you feel if you say something they listen. Their queue is very easy to use (I especially like checking off episodes that I’ve seen other places). For some shows, you could give them a break and come back months later to the same episode. I really like using the subtitles to navigate thru a show. It makes it easier to get to the good part – and, no, I don’t just mean scenes like the Cola Kiss. I’ve had a few issues with the subs, but most were minor (worse one was: one show at the beginning of my kdrama journey a character’s name changed 1/2 way thru “who are they talking about”), and usually if I said something they said they would fix it. Their iPad app is pretty good – but I don’t use it that often because away from home I use my phone, and at home I use my Mac.
Ok, enough with the “I likes.” This is what I dislike about Dramafever.
I really really dislike the iPhone “app,” which isn’t really an app at all, just a mobile version of their site. If you pause the video or stop and come back, it restarts around the 6 minute mark. This is very annoying. So annoying that I’ve basically stopped using it. Maybe it has improved, but I assume it if has there would be a tweet about it. I’ll be really happy if they come out with a proper iPhone app. (FYI – anyone can watch 1st eps using the app, but after that you have to be a premium member)
Update: Dramafever has a new iPhone app – a proper one. I haven’t used it that much, but it works pretty good. I still prefer hulu except – no ads on Dramafever. You can stop watching a show on your computer and finish on iPhone or vice versa. (couple bugs with that – for items not in your queue)Unfortunately, they appeared to have replaced the iPad app with the iPhone app, which was a shame because I liked the iPad app.
Another major thing I dislike is that for simulcast, Dramafever is always in 2nd place with subs. Ok, dislike may be strong. I know why Dramafever is 2nd because Viki has tons of fans to translate all at once, and Dramafever has paid translators (I think – I don’t know for certain). (I’m assuming 1 or 2 per show). However, there is an upside to Dramafever’s being 2nd; no waiting for the subs to finish before watching. When it is up, it is ready.
Ok – this is an after thought, some of these translators are too literal. They ruin jokes. In My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (on Dramafever as My Girlfriend is a 9-tailed fox), the main character was obsessed with “cow.” (beef). Unfortunately, the translators fixed it and translated “cow” as “beef.” “I want to eat beef” isn’t as funny as “I want to eat cow.” Also, Dramafever seems to err too much on the side of translate titles into names; I would prefer Oppa, Unnie, Manager etc be used more often when that is what the character says. Especially, since sometimes the indefiniteness of what “oppa’s” relationship is part of the joke or story. (49 days had a scene like that)
Bottom line: I recommend Dramafever especially for other/non-simulcast kdramas. but don’t bother with their iPhone “app.”
UPDATE: I’m no longer a premium member & as I learn more Korean, I’m realizing that lots of the subs are Readers Digest Condensed Versions/summary instead of a true translation.
Viki is unique in that the subbers are fans. That has good and bad points. Good points – fast subs. Bad points – not always good subs – some weird ones can slip in. And since you can see the progress, it is super tempting to start watching a partially subbed show and then be frustrated because you started too soon. (been there done that). Another disadvantage is that people ask for the subs, which isn’t nice because they are doing it out of the goodness of their heart.
For some reason, I can’t get Viki.com to run on Safari (my preferred browser) so I have to use FireFox or Chrome. This is annoying. Also, the commercials are very, very annoying because there is basically no variety. You may watch 3 episodes and see the same commercial over and over the entire time. It is especially annoying when it doesn’t apply to you. Also, there are a lot of commercials. Also, it is tempting to try and fix a typo etc with Viki subs even tho you really shouldn’t unless you’re on the subbing team.
Something unique to Viki – timed comments that show on screen. I hate them & always turn them off. Others love them. Your call.
The iPhone app is very good; it doesn’t have all the shows, but you can come back to where you left off. and no membership required!
If you want quick subs or a free iPhone app, then Viki.
Another disclaimer: I’m a Hulu+ subscriber.
This is a bonus. Hulu happens to have a lot of Dramafever, Viki and other shows. So here is a quick review. 1st, use the Kdrama genre page, because the show you are looking for may have a different title. For example, Queen In-Hyun’s man is listed as the “Queen and I.”
There is a desktop app (no subscription required) which is awesome – I’m pretty sure it is still a beta for Mac, but I don’t care. I don’t watch on Hulu.com, I use an app. Subscribing is awesome; I turn on my app and I’ve got a new episode (which I may have already watched.)
Subbing quality depends on the provider, so it varies.
There are commercials, but at least there is variety.
and my favorite thing is the Hulu mobile apps (iPhone and iPad). As a Hulu+ subscriber, I can start a Kdrama on my phone and finish on my computer (or vice versa). Now not all shows can be watched using the mobile apps, but the kdramas I want to watch can be. 🙂
Here are the winners of the categories I just thought up.
Fast Simulcasts: Viki
Website ease of use: Hulu and Dramafever
Subscription req’d Mobile app: Hulu
Free Mobile app: Viki
Customer communication: Dramafever
FYI: I don’t plan to change my viewing habits. Dramafever & Hulu will be my go-tos while I’ll watch Viki’s simulcasts (mobile and at home)
I hope this very long post was kinda interesting.