With the increasing number of streaming services, it’s only natural that the supporting software such as DVRs will be increasing too. One such service is PlayOn, which made a lot of noise in 2008 when it first rolled out its desktop software. Since then the service provider hasn’t looked back. Though it is not as hot as it once was, it still has a massive following.
The rise of Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu + Live TV with greater compatibility allowed competitive devices to offer better DVR capabilities allowing users to record movies, tv shows, and exclusive events. Thus, both PlayOn Desktop and PlayOn Cloud have taken a massive hit in recent years.
If you’re hearing the name PlayOn for the first time, keep reading because you’ll learn a lot about the service including why it’s still relevant and can be extremely useful.
What is PlayOn?
PlayOn is a streaming brand and software suite which allows the users to not only view but even record the content provided on various streaming platforms. There are two main products offered by the brand – PlayOn Desktop and PlayOn Cloud. If you’re interested in recording content from digital streams, you can do so via PlayOn Cloud using your iOS or Android device. On the other hand, if you want to do so on a desktop, you can use the Windows-based software.
Why do you need PlayOn?
PlayOn is one of the most convenient ways to organize and consolidate various streaming media. You can download, record, and store the content on a preferred device. Though a premium service, you can enjoy flexibility and convenience in keeping all your favorite content in one place.
PlayOn Desktop was launched in August 2008 by MediaMall. It started as windows-based consumer software. Later with PlayOn Cloud, users got to access the same functionality on streaming services using devices such as game consoles, and other video players.
Why should you stream on PlayOn?
Regardless of what major publications believe, I still feel that PlayOn still has a lot to offer. There are plenty of benefits when recording content using a premium service such as PlayOn. Let us check out some of the key benefits.
Once you record content on PlayOn Cloud, you will be able to access the content for a lifetime. There’s no time limit attached to the service. Be it premium content or the usual content, you will be able to access it on the network for life unless you decide to delete it.
Wide-range of platforms
There are two plans available on PlayOn – Desktop, and Cloud. Desktop service allows you to record on 24 platforms whereas the Cloud service allows you to record on 22 platforms. Some of the popular networks that you can record content from are ABC, Amazon Video, AMC, AT&T Now, CBS, Crackle, DC Universe, Fox, HBO GO, Netflix, Hulu, Showtime, NBC, Xfinity, and YouTube.
Recording content on PlayOn is as simple as a single click. You don’t need to be technically sound to be able to record content. With all the compatible services, you will get an organized menu from where you can stream a particular network. When streaming, you can start to record the content within a single click.
While premium streaming networks are mostly ad-free, there are still services that have pre-roll ads. Smart recording allows you to pause and resume recording, thereby allowing you to continue recording without breaking the session. This saves a lot of space along with keeping the recording ad-free.
This can easily be considered as the most predictable yet not so commonly available feature. Obviously, when you’re recording, you’re likely to be able to view it offline. But mind you, there are many platforms that don’t provide the liberty to do so. However, that’s not the case with PlayOn which allows you to watch content at any time and on any device given that you’ve synced it.
How to access PlayOn?
You can access PlayOn in two ways. You can either search for ‘PlayOn’ in your search engine and you’ll likely find the website on the first page of the search result. Alternatively, you can click on the PlayOn screenshot on your left to access the website directly.
Since PlayOn is a legal service, you don’t necessarily need a VPN. But doing so will help you browse anonymously. Most of the advertisers use the cookies to retarget the audience and thus if you want to avoid annoying ads, make sure to use a VPN.
PlayOn’s website has a clean design but there’s nothing to write home about. It comes off as a premium service and that’s about it. The blue/white/grey/black combination looks great but it isn’t out of the box. At the time of writing this review, there’s an odd green ‘Spring Sale’ banner which looks ridiculous. It might be that it’s this banner that caught me off guard.
The sticky header section on the website features the logo on the left and three options – ‘On Sale Now’, ‘Explore Features’, ‘Free Download’ towards the right. The options are on a slightly transparent background. Out of the three options, two of them have drop-down menus. Under ‘On Sale Now’, you have ‘PlayOn Desktop’, ‘Cloud Plans’, and ‘Cloud Credits’. Under Explore features, you have ‘PlayOn Desktop’ and ‘PlayOn Cloud’.
The hero section as of now has a ‘Spring Sale’ banner but I feel that the static ‘Record Streaming Videos’ banner is the usual hero section element. Herein, you’ll find links for the app on ‘App Store’, and ‘Google Play Store’.
The body section of the website highlights certain features of the service. There’s a comparison section where you can see the difference between PlayOn Desktop and PlayOn Cloud. Under that, you can see the media coverage that the platform has received. In addition to that, there’s a testimonial section followed by the press & features section.
The footer section on PlayOn is dense. There are four options – PlayOn Desktop, Store, Support, and About Us. In each of these categories, you have several navigation options. For instance, under PlayOn Desktop, you’ll find options to pages such as ‘Features’, ‘Downloads’, ‘What’s On’, ‘Compatible Devices’, and ‘Reviews’.
You can access the inner pages on the website by clicking on any option on the homepage. For instance, when I first landed on the website, I wanted to learn more about the PlayOn Credits and thus I browsed to the footer section, found the option and navigated towards the Credits page wherein I got all the necessary information. The inner pages are equally well-designed. They sport clean banners and design which add to the overall layout.
PlayOn is more than just a recording device. Under PlayOn Picks channel you will find free movies. Some of the notable titles include ‘The Hurt Locker’, ‘Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure’, ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ among many others. Not just movies, you can even find episodes from popular series such as ‘The Big Bang Theory’ and ‘Riverdale’. When you subscribe to the service, you’re able to find the recent episodes which you can watch for free. Just head over to the source and start watching.
Having said that, you can’t binge-watch on this platform. It follows the Hulu model wherein you can just access the recent episodes. For instance, you won’t get to watch an entire season of ‘The Good Place’. They sure have the content from popular networks such as NBC, Fox, ABC, Comedy Central, MTV, and VH1 but you don’t get the comprehensive experience which is a major drawback.
I didn’t enjoy recording an episode using PlayOn on my laptop. It wasn’t the best service and the loading time was excruciatingly long. If it continues to operate this way, it won’t make the cut in the coming years. Though the company claims that it offers a comprehensive service, I couldn’t experience anything like it.
I do have to praise certain aspects which I liked about PlayOn and one of them was the compatibility. It really is compatible with Roku, Firestick, Chromecast and gaming consoles. But yet again there’s a shortcoming. Even though PlayOn is a premium service it doesn’t allow you to stream content in 1080p. When streaming through PlayOn, the max resolution you get is 720p. What a turn-off, right?
Plans & Pricing
As for plans & pricing, you can choose from three options – $2.99/mo for 50GB capacity + 10 recording credits, $4.99/mo for 100GB capacity + 20 recording credits, and $19.99/mo for 1TB capacity + 40 recording credits.
Suggestions I have for PlayOn
If the developers don’t upper their game, they will have a hard time surviving in this cut-throat streaming market. The service is substandard and though with certain benefits, it still has a lot to do in order to catch up with the leading services. While I don’t have any issues with pricing, the resolution limitation has to be the most discouraging element in this platform.
PlayOn is affordable, however, it’s not unique as compared to the different services that are already out there. It fails to distinguish itself and thus it isn’t a DVR that really stands out. Nonetheless, if you’re satisfied with 720p and are looking for an affordable option, you can still give it a try.