"Play On" How does it work? - AVS Forum

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Networking, Media Servers & Content Streaming

propilotc182's Avatar propilotc182
04:52 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 12
03-19-2013 | Posts: 12
Joined: Nov 2010
Hi, I'm kind of new to all of this new-age media, but I'm getting tired of paying for Dish network! I heard of this thing called Ruku, and an 'app' called "Play On". I guess with play on, you can watch a whole bunch of different shows, and different channels. And, what play on doesn't have, apparently you can go to something similar to an 'app store', and get 3rd party apps (called "Plugins") that have specific cable type channels, and even specific shows.

So, what I'm trying to figure out, is how does this work, exactly? I know it's through the internet, and you use either the Ruku box, or a blue ray player with wifi, and basically play the internet on your TV. But, what I don't understand, is these channels you can get, and the plugins, are they all "live" (like as on Dish, or cable), or is it just certain programming? I watch many different 'cable' type channels, as well as primarily CBS for broadcast TV. I see that there is a plugin, with someone who says you can get city-specific local CBS programming on play on. Again, I don't know if it's 'live', or something from days, or weeks ago?

I want to basically use this play on like my dish service, so I can drop them. But, I would still like to be able to watch programs that are on certain channels, that come on at certain times, like the channels currently on Dish. Can I do this?

And, since we're on the subject, what about the 'play on' add on, called "Play Later". Is that just like a regular DVR? How does that work, exactly?

I realize that I'm asking quite a lot of questions, but I can NOT find ANYONE in ANY electronics store that can answer any of these questions! HH Gregg, Best Buy, Wally World, Radio Shack, etc. I've asked them all! Everyone has heard of play on, but no one can tell me specifically how it works!

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

John

Matt L's Avatar Matt L
08:06 PM Liked: 86
post #2 of 12
03-19-2013 | Posts: 4,959
Joined: Aug 2000
Well to answer the big question, no there is nothing like dish or cable available on a streamer. There are no "live' shows at certain times, though playon has plug ins that stream local content that my qualify. Hulu, not plus has a lot of local content available a day or so later, so that may work for you. If you have OTA available some boxes like the WD streamer will allow you to stream live TV from a USB tuner, but Roku is not one of them.

There is a vast amount of content available on the Roku boxes, but sadly none of it comes close to replicating the regular tv viewing experience.


BTW, playon is based on your computer, it must be on and Playon running to have any content available....
gmd024's Avatar gmd024
04:26 PM Liked: 12
post #3 of 12
03-22-2013 | Posts: 367
Joined: Mar 2010
I purchased a lifetime license for PlayOn quite some time ago and when PlayLater offered a lifetime license I purchased it also

I must admit, I don't use them frequently, but I have definitely gotten my '$$ worth' out of them many times over

I cut the cable tv and Dish tv cords many moons ago and I don't miss them at all (especially the lack of high monthly charges... which has paid for the devices that helped to replace cable/dish tv) - the devices being, a combination of... the Roku (x2) - the Boxee Box (x3) (mostly for streaming local HD content from a multi terabyte HP MediaSmart server) - the Raspberry Pi with XBMC/OpenELEC (x2) (used infrequently) - live tv, streamed to 3 large screen TV's from a PC - the PlayOn UPnP software-media server installed on a PC and the HP server - (and the Ouya with XBMC, scheduled to ship to me next month)

I might have a few extra remote control button and/or mouse clicks to get to what I want to watch... but considering the amount of $$'s I'm saving every month, the extra clicks are not considered a problem at all

And then when you consider that you can 'share' accounts like Netflix and Amazon Prime streaming on different devices, this cuts costs also - My daughter who lives close to the west coast of the US, and me (living in the mid Atlantic/US area) both share Netflix and Prime - plus she's attending a University, so she gets the half price student discount for Amazon Prime ($39 a year) - so if the monthly charge is divided by 2 users, that's $11.24 per month for both services (but of course the 'Dad' pays the total monthly charges :-) ) - a fraction of the price that cable TV and/or Dish TV

I could probably continue further with more examples of why to 'cut the cord', but instead of boring forum members any further, I'll decline
fido2's Avatar fido2
08:13 AM Liked: 10
post #4 of 12
03-28-2013 | Posts: 67
Joined: May 2012
Ive just starting looking into PlayOn myself. Basically what brought me to it was looking for a way to use Netflix (among others) inside of XBMC. Anyone know if this is the best way or suggest something else?

The Pros of PlayOn for me appear to be its large "channel" list in addition to netflix and hulu.
etrin's Avatar etrin
08:47 AM Liked: 12
post #5 of 12
03-28-2013 | Posts: 681
Joined: Feb 2007
I looked at playon for the hulu part.

I talked to a rep and he said your pc is used to play channels on your tv and record shows for viewing on tv or other devices.
so yes you have to have your computer on to use it, but then he said you can put the recordings on different players.
unsure exactly what that means, play them or copy your recordings to other devices.

I found out I can do hulu in wmc without playon so I kinda stopped there and just use it now.
Not sure about xbmc, hope someone chimes in.
there was a plugin called xbmcflix that put netflix into xbmc. I think its gone now.

I have wished that there was something that did it all but I guess we will never see it.
kphammond9's Avatar kphammond9
11:07 AM Liked: 12
post #6 of 12
05-19-2014 | Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 2014

I wanted to bump this issue to see if anyone has any hands-on experience with PlayOn. I have a setup that I'm pretty happy with, but I want to try to pull everything into one interface, if possible. I think PlayOn will do it, but I worry about wasting time and money on it if it's going to be slow or buggy.

 

To answer the "how does it work," question, PlayOn runs on a networked PC and transcodes all of the content it accesses so that it can be played on any connected device. It's similar to Plex in that respect, but it is pretty heavily focused on aggregating online content, like HBO Go, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, etc. Most of those sites use DRM to restrict playback to one device (usually your PC). A networked device like your blu ray player, phone, tablet, or TV won't play it unless you have an approved app on that device to access it independently. To be clear, PlayOn doesn't give you free access to HBO or ESPN or anything. You still have to log in with valid credentials. But, it will take that content stream and allow you to serve it over the network. Plus, since it's a paid service, they work to maintain their channels and expand their lineup, which you don't get as much with the community-produced apps in XBMC and unofficial Plex plugins. Bottom line, Plex and XBMC might do it, but there's no guarantee. PlayOn is supposed to be more stable/reliable in that respect.

 

The reason I want to look into it is because I don't want to have to turn on my blu ray player to access Hulu and Amazon Instant Video. I have XBMC running on 2 Raspberry Pis with a PC server running Plex and a TV/PVR backend. If I can also run a PlayOn server and bring those apps (HBO Go, WatchESPN, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc) into the XBMC interface, that would make my wife a lot happier. Which would make me happier.

 

So if anybody has any actual experience with PlayOn, I'd love to hear your thoughts.


darthrsg's Avatar darthrsg
10:27 AM Liked: 968
post #7 of 12
05-20-2014 | Posts: 8,911
Joined: Jul 2005
I used it for a year and saw a lot of stuff stop working for weeks and then come back. Other times you can see the show you want but it won't play. I recently bought it again and had the same experience across many of my devices and went for the refund. At this point I'd just watch the shows on my desktop.
Evangelo2's Avatar Evangelo2
12:29 PM Liked: 12
post #8 of 12
05-20-2014 | Posts: 2,011
Joined: Mar 2004
I use PlayOn to stream to my cable boxes. I have the PlayOn HD package. The quality is passable but not great. I also don't believe it passes surround sound but I may be wrong about that as the TVs I use it on are not connected to AVRs. It does the job well and allows me to stream the live services via DNLA at an acceptable quality so overall I would say I am happy with how it performs.
-Evangelo2
kphammond9's Avatar kphammond9
07:09 AM Liked: 12
post #9 of 12
05-21-2014 | Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthrsg View Post

I used it for a year and saw a lot of stuff stop working for weeks and then come back. Other times you can see the show you want but it won't play. I recently bought it again and had the same experience across many of my devices and went for the refund. At this point I'd just watch the shows on my desktop.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evangelo2 View Post

I use PlayOn to stream to my cable boxes. I have the PlayOn HD package. The quality is passable but not great. I also don't believe it passes surround sound but I may be wrong about that as the TVs I use it on are not connected to AVRs. It does the job well and allows me to stream the live services via DNLA at an acceptable quality so overall I would say I am happy with how it performs.
-Evangelo2

Cool, thanks for the info. I think I'll start with the month-to-month subscription and see how it goes.


kphammond9's Avatar kphammond9
08:08 AM Liked: 12
post #10 of 12
05-21-2014 | Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 2014
Quote:
Originally Posted by kphammond9 View Post
 

 

 

Cool, thanks for the info. I think I'll start with the month-to-month subscription and see how it goes.


Unngh! Looks like they don't have monthly sub options. I could have sworn I heard they did... but now it's either annual or lifetime. They do have a 30 day refund policy though.


darthrsg's Avatar darthrsg
08:19 AM Liked: 968
post #11 of 12
05-21-2014 | Posts: 8,911
Joined: Jul 2005
Quote:
Originally Posted by kphammond9 View Post


Unngh! Looks like they don't have monthly sub options. I could have sworn I heard they did... but now it's either annual or lifetime. They do have a 30 day refund policy though.

Customer service was good about getting mine refunded. 30 days is plenty of time to see if it works for you.
kphammond9's Avatar kphammond9
11:38 AM Liked: 12
post #12 of 12
05-22-2014 | Posts: 16
Joined: Apr 2014

My 2 cents on PlayOn now that I have it running:

 

The Good:

- Works in XBMC

- Fairly easy setup

- ESPN is the killer app for me. Still requires provider authentication, of course, so you won't get it without a cable/dish sub.

- Phone app connects to server easily and allows viewing and casting from one device to another (ie phone to TV)

 

The Bad:

- Transcoding is so-so. Not a nice as Plex, but not terrible. There is some compression graininess and blockiness here and there, but minimal buffering.

- Amazon Instant Video is SD only. This is because Amazon requires playback on an HDCP compliant device (PCs are not). To get HD, I have to hop out of XBMC and use my TV's built-in Amazon app

- Interface within XBMC is clunky. Text menus to navigate to content, grainy thumbnails, etc. You can add individual menu items as separate video files to speed up navigation to common channels/shows, but it's still in the same clunky list interface.

- Can't access server remotely. Might be able to set it up with port forwarding, but I haven't looked into it much yet. Was plug-and-play with Plex.

- Service costs $. Which would be fine if I felt like I was getting my money's worth. At this point, I'm not sure.

 

If the interface was more refined (like if they made a true XBMC plugin/addon) and if Amazon was HD, this would be a no-brainer for me. But really the only thing that PlayOn provides for me that I can't get otherwise is the convenience of XBMC integration. If I'm forced to sacrifice video quality and have to navigate cumbersome menus, it becomes less attractive.


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