Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET)
If you’ve ever thought seriously about cutting the cable-TV cord and saving yourself a big chunk of change every month, you’ve probably looked at PlayOn, a PC-based media server that lets you stream tons of TV content to just about any home and mobile device.
And if you love your Netflix and/or Hulu Plus subscriptions but don’t always have an Internet connection for streaming their content, you need to know about PlayLater, which turns your PC into a DVR that can record those and other sources for later viewing.
All of which brings us to this deal: For a limited time, you can get lifetime licenses of both PlayOn and PlayLater for $59.99. Regular price for both: $129.99.
I’ve written about PlayOn before: It slings shows from your Windows PC to various devices, including
tablets, smartphones, game consoles, media center boxes, and the like. It’s akin to Roku, with your PC filling the role of “the box.”
As for PlayLater, it’s been on my radar for some time, but it wasn’t until I saw it in action at
CES that I remembered how freakin’ awesome it is. The software can record streaming content from dozens of channels, including ABC, Amazon Instant Video, Comedy Central, Food Network, HBO Go (!), NBC, SyFy, and TBS. (Obviously certain channels, like Hulu Plus and HBO Go, require you to have an active, paid subscription. But many of them are free.)
PlayLater stores these recordings as MP4 files, and can even auto-sync with
iTunes so they’re queued up and ready for viewing on your iDevice. (Those files are also compatible with Android and other devices.) Frankly, I’m not sure how the developers can get away with this, as I’m pretty sure the likes of HBO and Netflix would frown on people recording their streaming content — especially for mobile use — but I’m not complaining. (In fact: Shhh! Let’s keep this to ourselves!)
Recordings take place in real time, meaning a one-hour show takes an hour to record, so you have to plan ahead a bit. What’s more, if you record from the likes of Hulu Plus or TBS, expect the same commercials you’d get while streaming them. But you can queue up as many shows as you want, so just set your PC a-recordin’ at night and wake up to a fresh batch of content.
Between PlayOn and PlayLater, you’ve got two pretty incredible tools to help advance the cord-cutting cause. Assuming you were to ditch cable, the two would probably pay for themselves in a month. And because they’re lifetime licenses, the only additional cost is what you pay for services like Netflix.