I just registered to this forum after reading this thread.
Like LaurenceA, I was also a beta tester who is enjoying free full access to FilmStruck for the remainder of the year.
i also work in technology, so I know quite a bit about the technical aspects required for the site.
In a nutshell, I'm a movie loving software engineer who does not play "video" games (much to my wife's relief)!
I do plan on joining FilmStruck once my free "beta" gift ends. Like many, I joined Hulu because I was excited it included the Criterion Collection. Granted, it wasn't marketed too well, and it didn't include the entire collection.
FilmStruck has more films - the Criterion portion has a huge inventory (in my opinion), while the Filmsruck side is more minimal but includes non-Criterion films. I plan on purchasing the annual full-access package for $99 - it is a better value than the monthly fee.
What sets FilmStruck apart from Hulu is the format feels like you're actually buying a blu-ray or DVD full of extras. Both "channels" are also frequently curated by theme or director/star - even including extra material organizing the theme.
The title are exhausted enough for me, and off hand I can mention that I'm currently watching Edward Yang's "A Brighter Summer Day" and I have the Apu trilogy in the watch list - neither of these were available on Hulu. I have also heard that currently unavailable titles are being "dusted off" for FilmStruck (like the Laser Disc version of "Silence of the Lambs").
in a nutshell...it feels like Hulu was a repository for Criterion films, while Filmstruck is a real partnership between TCM and Criterion.
I do hope more of the TCM library of classic films become available (since the FilmStruck side is supposed to be a mix of Criterion plus films from other partnerships). Yes - films like Richard III, Stagecoach, and some Michael Powell films are available, but I would love to have the best of John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Billy Wilder at my disposal as well!!!!
Anyway - this sounds too much like a sale pitch, so I'll switch to some technical info.
The Smart TV dilemma...some get outdated and only make certain apps available that are popular (Netflix, Hulu, Prime, etc.) Others have something like Roku or Fire built in - those type of "Smart" televisions will have software updates and the ability to search for downloadable apps.
Televisions integrated with their own proprietary software will probably not include Filmstruck unless it gets "huge."
With that said - if the site is offering realistic target dates, the available devices will keep increasing. Fire TV was with the launch, their December date for Apple TV was matched, and I hope early 2017 will be matched for Roku and Chromecast.
Yes...to people with smart tv's, I understand the convenience of choosing an app, and the pain of buying a new device. I also understand the annoyance of just being able to watch on a laptop, tablet, or phone!
My suggestion - try a free trial to check material. Then, decide if it is worth buying a device. Apple Fire Sticks and Roku sticks are under $50. You'll just need an adequate wireless signal. More "expensive" versions allow for Ethernet connections if you're wired for cat-5/6 wiring. The device format allows for app selection as well and is very easy to navigate.
It just comes down to what you're comfortable with technologically and financially.
I hope I haven't bored anyone with this wordy "essay!" Feel free to ask any questions to me as well.