This is THE tool that allowed me to remove cable TV and not miss it at all. I absolutely love it.
At the time of this writing, PlayOn & PlayLater are being sold as a bundle for 50% of their normal price. And, they have a 30-day money back guarantee. With the 50% promo, the price of buying both products with a lifetime license is less than the cost of one month’s cable bill. I would grab yourself copies ASAP before the promo ends.
Their ads say it best… watch cable TV shows without paying for cable… legally! From a functionality perspective, that is exactly what PlayOn does. However, what their ads do not tell you is how great the product and people actually are. I love the combination of a well-designed application coupled with a dedicated team who are willing to bend over backwards to assist. That combination… that polish… is the reason I am growing to love PlayOn and why I proudly purchased a lifetime license for all of their products.
First, there are two undocumented features I love most about their products…
Maybe not the most politically correct term to use, but their software really is “idiot proof.” I am confident that anyone with a 3rd grade education can install and use their software without ever reading a manual. All of the complex logic is buried within the software and is hidden from the user.
As of December, I’ve been writing software professionally for 31+ years. Along the way I’ve had to find very creative ways to pull in content from places where, admittedly, nobody ever expected the content to come from. As an expert in this area, I can tell you that these processes are incredibly complex and, quite often, a moving target. Most applications importing content only do so from one or two sources. And most of those products have a polished SDK or API to assist them. Once you start doing what the team at PlayOn are doing the challenge and complexity increases tenfold. Every source requires a whole new way of thinking and adds load of complexity. Well, the folks at PlayOn have successfully done this almost 100 times just for these products alone! The beauty is that they have neatly hidden this complex problem-solving logic behind the scenes so the user never has to think about it.
Basically, the company offers two products…
PlayOn : www.playon.tv
A small service that you install on a Windows PC. It runs in the background and allows you to magically watch movies and cable TV shows in the rest of your home OR on your mobile device while you’re traveling. Just install it, reboot your computer, turn on your TV, and start watching… even if you do not have cable.
PlayLater : www.playlater.tv
In short, PlayLater is a DVR for PlayOn. Simply open it up, browse the channels and shows you are interested in, and click record. PlayLater will pull down the movie or TV show and convert them for offline viewing. If you’d like you can automatically import them into iTunes (or burn them to DVD, move them to a hard drive somewhere, etc., etc., etc.).
When I initially purchased PlayOn & PlayLater, my goal was to supplement the HD antenna I had recently installed. After paying for satellite and cable for decades, I decided to cut the cord. I installed an array of antennas to pull in HD channels along with dedicated Windows Media Center PCs, network tuners, and NAS for strong videos. My family and I then convinced ourselves that we did not need the cable stations (National Geographic, History Channel, A&E, etc.). Unfortunately, after hundreds of dollars and a week of work, we could not receive ABC. And, although we could receive most of their content via Hulu, there were two shows that my family and I would miss. My purchase of PlayOn & PlayLater was solely for us to receive the two shows from ABC that we did not want to do without. However, since purchasing PlayOn & PlayLater we have not touched the antenna array or equipment even once. It really is that good.
Since PlayOn & PlayLater were not meant to be primary services for us, not much money or time was invested in them. In fact, they were basically installed on a laptop to play with them and never removed. Both products require so little resources that there wasn’t any reason to move them to a high-powered computer.
The quality of the picture has also been great. Our primary viewing area is a 120″ screen with a DLP projector. Powering the projector is an AV receiver and an old Sony BDP-S790 blu ray player that we’ve had forever (again, not a lot of time or expense was put into PlayOn as it wasn’t meant to be the center of our entertainment). Even at 120″ the picture quality is near perfect on everything we have watched. (Note: It works with almost every device on the planet… every current game console, Smart TVs, mobile devices, Roku, etc., etc., etc.).
Speaking of perfection, let us talk about their support team…
Remember how I said how creative a software developer must be to pull in or acquire content from unusual and unexpected places? And, remember how I mentioned that each source presents new challenges? Keep this in mind for a second. In short, every single time that a publisher or TV station tweaks their site, the team at PlayOn must adapt to the change. They could work for days or weeks comparing every tiny detail of their notes or source code to determine what exact tweak from the publisher was responsible for breaking things. Again, keep this in mind. It will make sense in a moment.
A handful of episodes, from one specific TV show, from one specific station was giving me problems for a two days. It happens to be a show that I love and I happen to be anal enough to want every episode downloaded (using PlayLater of course). I spent two days clicking buttons, comparing content, tinkering with settings, and trying to understand why these few episodes were being such a pain. For me, what made this tolerable is their team working with me every step of the way… even at 2 AM.
As a side note, there’s also something parents should take note of… built-in parental controls at the click of a button.
There’s not much more to say. The product speaks for itself… HD quality cable TV, great features, powerful capabilities, incredibly easy to setup, and an outstanding support team. In short, PlayOn and PlayLater make it easy to finally cut the cord and ditch your cable and satellite provider… without even needing an antenna.