I want to keep today’s post a secret. It’s just for you loyal readers. Don’t be spreading it around, because it will ruin it for us.
In a previous article, I had written about software/service called PlayLater that allows you to record online video to watch later. It covers more or less a hundred video services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, and the local stuff (ABC, Fox, NBC, etc.). A few months ago, I commented to my wife that we are probably one of a small group of people who have watched House of Cards on an airplane. Even if you have an internet connection, streaming Netflix on it is typically useless.
With PlayLater, you get a video file just like any home movie you record. Move it onto an SD card and you are good to go.
The biggest problem with the service was that the interface was slow and getting shows was a very manual process of search, expand, record. I know, “Lazy Man problems”, right?
The company that makes PlayLater, just changed the game with their PlayOn Plus product. They completely revamped the interface and added new functionality to make it some of the best money I’ve ever spent. Well it was some of the best I’ve spent even before they did that, but now it’s even better money spent.
The interface has transformed from a 1996 web design to a 2004 era web design. (I know I shouldn’t throw stones.) I want to set expectations properly. It’s not great, but very, very much improved.
It’s the functionality that makes PlayOn Plus a game changer. You can record shows in a season with a single click. To test this yesterday, I grabbed the whole season of Wet Hot American Summer on Netflix. Now I can bring them to the gym with me or anywhere else.
The other important piece of functionality is subscribing to shows, like you would with a DVR. I tested this by putting Fox’s new show The Grinder as a subscription. As an aside, I have no idea if it is a good show, but my wife is interested in it. We missed the first episode, so this service is perfect for going back and grabbing things already aired.
There’s some other functionality that I haven’t used yet. There’s commercial skipping built in. That sounds very basic to those with a DVR, but if you streaming a Fox show from their website, you are going to get commercials, and you can’t skip them.
You can also cast video to device on your wifi network. So all my Android tablets become mini televisions in my house. Of course, they simply could just stream from Netflix and Amazon Prime in the first place, so this isn’t very exciting to me. It does work to cast video to a Roku and other similar boxes, but it doesn’t include the Amazon Fire TV Stick that I have in my bedroom.
Getting pricing on PlayOn Plus proved a little difficult. They advertise rates as low as $4.99 a month, but if you click on it, you need to sign in or create an account. As a long time lifetime customer, I already had an account and my upgrade was a one-time $10 purchase. So I can’t see what other pricing is available to you. I’ve read that you can get it for $40 a year. I’m not sure if they still offer a lifetime subscription like what I have.
This issue of getting pricing is unfortunately typical of the PlayOn service. It has little quirks that suggest that it is a very small company. When I tried to use my Paypal account to upgrade, their link simply took me to Paypal’s home page, not a payment option. It wasn’t a big deal as I just used my credit card instead. What’s important is that the core of what PlayOn does, record streaming media, is done very, very well.
As I mentioned at the outset, let’s keep this a secret. It’s quite possible that some of this is a legal issue. Recording shows/movies to watch later from a rental like Amazon Prime defeats the purpose of “renting.” Also one could conceivably record a year’s worth of programming from Netflix and HBO Go and then cancel the service… which isn’t fair to their business models.
Still, it’s nice to watch what you want even when there isn’t an internet connection available. So give PlayOn Plus a try, I don’t think you’ll be sorry.