On Monday, MediaMall Technologies announced its media server software known as PlayOn is currently up and running on the Wii U. It’s also holding a promotion to give away one-year subscriptions to PlayOn if you sign up for it from the Wii U. Should you decide to sign up for PlayOn, you’ll also be able to experience the service across your other gaming consoles and mobile devices. I’m going to share my PlayOn experience with you today and break down what this service can do for you.
PlayOn is a media server application that can stream internet videos to Android and iOS smartphones, tablets and consoles such as the PS3 and Xbox 360. For example, video content provided by networks such as The Food Network, Comedy Central, Cartoon Network, Hulu, NBC and more can be accessed by PlayOn. You may be wondering how PlayOn can do this. Well essentially, PlayOn is sort of like a web browser that you can’t see. When you tell PlayOn to bring up videos from the Food Network it’s really just pulling down content from the Food Network website or Hulu and presenting it to you through a selection of easy to understand menus. When you play the video on your mobile device or console, your computer is really handling all the streaming in the background. The difference is instead of the videos showing on your computer screen, PlayOn beams them over your wireless network to whatever devices are sharing that network.
In my case, I downloaded the PlayOn application on my Android Nexus 7 tablet and iPod Touch. There’s no need for an app for the PS3 or Xbox 360 because they will automatically recognize PlayOn as a media server. Once I signed in to the PlayOn desktop software, I opened the app on my Android and iOS devices. It automatically recognized the PlayOn software running on my computer and quickly accessed it. From there, watching videos was as simple as choosing the network and picking a video. The streaming wasn’t choppy, but it was not HD quality. The videos on my mobile devices didn’t look unbearably bad by any means, but don’t expect the same video quality you would get with a dedicated application like Netflix. Naturally, some streams perform better than others. Performance will depend on the source of the videos. PlayOn’s FAQ says it’s working on making real-time HD streams a reality. Still, getting HD quality streams will depend on your computer’s processor strength since it has to convert one HD media format to another format instantaneously.
So why would you spend $39.99 ($59.99 for DVR support) if you don’t have a Wii U for PlayOn? Some may say the requirement to keep devices on the same network is a deal-breaker, but it really depends on your personal preference. You may want to watch some episodes of an A&E show while you sit in bed, but your computer may be in another room. Or maybe the device you want to use doesn’t support Flash which prevents you from watching certain videos from the mobile web browser. That’s where PlayOn comes in. PlayOn can also be used to get around the Xbox Live Gold requirement for video content. If you have PlayOn, you won’t have to subscribe to Xbox Live Gold to watch Netflix. Granted the video quality won’t be in HD, but you’ll save $60.
Another cool feature of PlayOn are the plugins it supports. With these plugins, you don’t have to be restricted to the video content PlayOn includes by default. The community creates their own custom channels and share them with each other. Some of these plugins even enable live TV streaming. Keep in mind these third-party plugins are not subject to the same quality and reliability standards that comes with officially supported PlayOn videos. Sometimes plugins will be broken, and the video quality could be quite bad. On the plus side, it’s very easy to install these plugins. If you have ever opened up a document from Microsoft Word, you’ll have no problem installing PlayOn plugins.
If you’re still on the fence about PlayOn, you can try it with a 30-day money back guarantee.