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Monday, July 19, 2010

What pisses me off? PlayOn.

Maybe some of you have heard of PlayOn. It's a program that allows you to stream media, usually hulu, to your Xbox 360, PS3 or Wii. Some time ago I was looking to switch from cable to mostly/completely internet based TV watching.

Why? It'd be cheaper and more flexible than cable. I had already used hulu for some time and the thought of completely "cutting the cable" and using my computer for my TV needs seemed interesting. After finding PlayOn and trying it out, I went for it. I bought the program ($40) and was fairly happy with it.

This was a lifetime license. It specifically stated on their website in the FAQ section that they didn't do monthly/yearly fees. Now, two of my favorite shows are The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. PlayOn knew this was the case, not just with me but with most of their users and when hulu dropped those two shows, they added in support for comedycentral.com. This allowed people who purchased PlayOn to continue watching them via the program.

The problem was later when they announced a "premium" version of PlayOn. Now, they stated that your "PlayOn Basic" license was still good and would be for a "lifetime" and they would continue to support it. Sounds good, right? It was ok until they changed the comedycentral.com support to show up as "Premium Preview" and, once the "premium" version was out, yanked access to it from the "PlayOn Basic" users programs. Wait... what?

PlayOn premium could be payed for via a yearly fee, another wtf. Seeing as how they had already stated that it just wasn't the way they operated. So much for that, then. But you can also pay a one time fee of $80 ($40 for early adopters) for a "lifetime" license... yeah, fool me once and all that.

But even that "lifetime" license is apparently only for version 3.0. Another major version would cost even more. I'm starting to think that PlayOn is talking about the "lifetime" in terms of butterflies.

Now, you may be thinking "a lot of programs do this, charge for major versions and all that" which is true. But when a company comes out and says "pay this and you're good for a lifetime... oh wait, no pay THIS and you're good for a lifetime, we super duper promise this time for realz" I call bullshit. This was just deceptive on their part. If the charges had been stated clearly up front this wouldn't be an issue. But I didn't pay money for a "lifetime license" to a program only to have the "super awesomer" version come out later and have features, that I payed for, ripped away and put into the new blank-point-oh release that I have to pay again for.

So, fuck them. I started looking for alternatives. Here's a few of the things I found:

1. Boxee

An absolutely fantastic program, completely free mind you, that gives you a large variety of content from different sources, including hulu. It's very well designed and attractive to the eye. The only limitation is that it can't stream media to other devices, so it's best used in a media center type PC connected to your TV.

That limitation will be overcome this November when you'll be able to purchase a Boxee Box that will act as kind of a stand-alone media center PC with Boxee on board and ready to go.

For someone like me who already has his pc connected to his tv, this is a wonderful program.

2. TVersity

This one seems to be a lot like PlayOn. It will stream media from various sources to set top boxes including Xbox 360. It has a free version that, unfortunately doesn't stream Hulu but it has a paid version that does. A "pro" license is $40 a year. If I were going to pay money, it would be to TVersity. At least then I could have some assurance that what I was paying was the final price. That features weren't going to be taken from me and put in another version. Give this one a look.


This is a different one that I haven't tried too much. This is the program that Boxee is based on. From the about page:

"Currently XBMC can be used to play almost all popular audio and video formats around. It was designed for network playback, so you can stream your multimedia from anywhere in the house or directly from the internet using practically any protocol available."

I've seen a Hulu addon for this program although I haven't tried it. You might want to give this one a look as well and see for yourself.

There are others but I haven't gotten the chance to try them all and, frankly, am quite happy with Boxee so I have had much reason to. Give these a shot, let me know what you think and steer clear of PlayOn unless you enjoy being lied to.


  1. Yeah same thing happened to me. All the stuff they say you can watch with the "Basic" license is complete BS. This is a complete slap in the face to people like me who paid for this app over a year and a half ago and provided money for them to continue developing their program. I can see stuff like netflix being "Premium" feature but to not support Hulu or streaming files from your PC on the basic license that I was reduced to completely took away the only reason why I bought playon in the first place. This is why hackers like myself refuse to buy software, we're tired of getting ripped off.

  2. same here ... purchased a lifetime license quite a while back, only to see it downgraded to 'Basic' license. This is BULLSHIT indeed!


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