PlayOn, Playa'

Filed under: , , , , , , by: Andy Robinson

Windows Only: A while back, I was poking around engadget and came across a post about a D-Link media streamer that pumps online video to your TV from popular sites like Hulu, College Humor, YouTube and others, provided you have a plug-in. In that post, they referenced a program called PlayOn:

"...but we'll stick to rocking PlayOn with our 360 and PS3."

I was intrigued!

I decided to follow the link and soon found myself on I decided to download and install PlayOn (free beta trial for 60 days) to give it a go. Now, anyone that has stumbled across this blog probably knows that the 360 will soon be adding Netflix's Watch Instantly support, but PlayOn touts some other nice features, like streaming from Hulu, ESPN, CNN and YouTube. After reading about the benefits and not being patient enough to wait for the (weak Netflix just announced an agreement with Starz Play - check it out!) selection of Netflix's streaming catalog, I fired it up and I must say, it's quite impressive. They just released another version of the beta which enables Netflix account access (the initial beta I installed did not have that enabled yet).

The system operates over uPnP on your network, and you have to have the service installed on your computer to work with your 360 or PS3. Since I don't have access to a PS3, I'll walk you through the 360 version.

If you've ever streamed media from your computer to your 360, it's easy as pie to get PlayOn to recognize on the 360. Go to your media tab and change the source to PlayOn: computername. Once that is set, you will see a list of the different sites to choose video from. I didn't really care much for the sorting method - you really need to know exactly what you're looking for - and there isn't any sort of search functionality. However, they are planning support for Hulu user accounts, so you could actually log in to your Hulu account and PlayOn will list the shows you subscribe to from Hulu.

Once you have selected the show to watch, you launch it just like any other video you'd watch on the 360 (press A if you've never watched a video) and it buffers for a couple seconds and then you have your media. The quality is actually pretty good - not HD, but you certainly can't complain.

When the 360 update hits, I don't know if the service will still be compatible, but until then, it's a great way to get streaming media off your dinky computer or laptop display and on to your big beautiful TV. Also, if you're on a PS3 and you don't have the hope of Netflix streaming media in the near future, but would like that benefit your 360 counterparts will soon be getting, PlayOn adds that and much more.

One last thing: every once in a while I suffer from a bad connection, or perhaps it's a bug, but I am unable to connect to the server source and it'll display an "Unable to Connect" message while waiting for my media options to display. If you experience this or know how to remedy it, leave a comment! Now I'm going to get caught up on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia!

source: PlayOn!


On October 3, 2008 at 2:35 PM , Rob said...

c compatible as well, or only PC?

On October 3, 2008 at 2:45 PM , Rob said...

Ugh. I meant MAC compatible.

On October 3, 2008 at 2:46 PM , Rob (again) said...

crap. would help if i read the first words - Windows Only. I need more coffee.

On October 3, 2008 at 9:30 PM , Arison said...

say if you ran this on the pc, do you have to keep the pc on at all times when watching over the xbox?

On October 6, 2008 at 4:18 PM , Andygoes said...

You know, I believe you have to keep the PC on.