PlayOn is, at its most basic, a way for you to organize and consolidate your streaming media. It also offers options for downloading and recording streaming media, although you have to pay for those features. PlayOn purports to offer more flexibility for people who are overwhelmed by the streaming options currently available. It’s not a huge name in the business, so you aren’t alone if you’re asking, “What is PlayOn?” Read on for the Cordcutting.com review of the PlayOn software.

PlayOn is available in two basic forms: PlayOn Desktop and PlayOn Cloud. The desktop app only works with Windows computers, so Mac users are out of luck in this case. I have a Windows laptop, and I found it easy to get to the download page on PlayOn’s website. The cloud app is exclusively for smartphones.

The desktop download is a pretty simple process, although there are constant reminders of what you’re missing out by not upgrading to the paid version. Once the download is complete, you can go to the channels tab and start linking your other streaming accounts to PlayOn’s media player.

You can connect to the big players like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon Prime. If you’re a cable subscriber, you’ll probably find your cable company listed under channels as well. HBO Go is also listed, but like pretty much every other channel, you must have an existing HBO GO account before you can start queuing up Game of Thrones. There are some free episodes offered (see the Content section for more), but this mostly a pay-to-play (on) service.

Switching between channels is a smooth process, but then again, it’s also a smooth process on my Roku TV. Even going from Netflix to Hulu on my laptop isn’t exactly complicated. I did find that the PlayOn app did a decent job of transferring my streaming profiles over from other sites. But it looks very much like a transfer rather than something organic. On other streaming sites, the shows are displayed in a more seamless way. PlayOn displays them like folders on your computer’s hard drive.

The video player is mostly fine. I had to wait a few seconds for my show to load, which gave me time to wonder why I wasn’t watching simply Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu instead.

Content

PlayOn has a PlayOn Picks channel that promises “totally free movies.” There are seven of those as of this writing. Some notable titles are Bill and Ted’s Excellent AdventureBill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, and The Hurt Locker. To be fair to PlayOn, the channel updates every month. If you want to try streaming, casting, or recording videos with the free plan, you can only do it with the movies available in PlayOn Picks.

If you’re thinking, “That’s all?” Well, so did I at first. Luckily, it’s not all. By my count, there are also 12 “subscription-free movies” available for free, including titles like the 2010 remake of True Grit and the romantic comedy classic Four Weddings and a Funeral. There’s more free TV available than movies, as the basic desktop version lets you access to the most recent episodes of shows like Riverdale and The Big Bang Theory.

In most cases, you’ll get access to the last five or six episodes, which is about the same number of episodes you can watch for free by going to the CW and CBS websites, respectively. There were some exceptions, though. I noticed a lot of Late Night with Seth Meyers episodes available, for instance. So if you can’t get enough of the “A Closer Look” segments on YouTube, knock yourself out.

The “most recent episodes” model reminds me of the early days of Hulu, back before it was a purely paid service. You won’t be able to binge watch an entire season of The Good Place, but you will be able to catch up on the last few episodes of Season 3, for instance. According to the company, they have content from networks including NBC, ABC, Fox, SpikeTV, Comedy Central, VH1, and MTV.

Streaming Quality

The quality on my laptop was fine. It was nothing to write home about. Except for the longish loading times, it seemed roughly comparable to the quality on the streaming sites themselves. But for a company like PlayOn to succeed in the long run, I’m not sure that’s going to cut it.

Platform

As mentioned before, the Desktop app only works on Windows laptops. The cloud app is compatible with both Android and Apple mobile devices.

Beyond that, the company says that “PlayOn is designed to work with most streaming devices.” It mentions Roku and Chromecast, but also says it works with consoles like Xbox, Playstation and Wii. I didn’t see a full list of compatible platforms on PlayOn’s website. The company does invite you to email support@playon.tv if you aren’t sure if your device is compatible.

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