PlayOn – a worthy attempt, but I think I’ll be MovingOn

It’s been a few months since dropping our cable TV service in lieu of cheaper alternatives. The solution I came up with is a combination of over the air digital TV stations, Netflix streaming, and a piece of software called PlayOn that would allow me to stream Hulu (and a handful of other content providers) from a PC to my PS3 and Xbox 360 game consoles.

Well, we’ve survived so far, but it has been a bit frustrating at times. Picking up digital TV stations over the antenna has been pretty solid; only a few times during really bad weather that I’ve had any issues. Using Netflix has also been pretty solid when using the PS3 and the Netflix provided CD to stream video – I’m actually really impressed with the video quality so far.

That leads me to the last of the bunch – PlayOn. My first month or so of using PlayOn was great. I was able to watch Hulu using my PS3 and Xbox…and even stream Netflix to my Xbox without needing to have an Xbox Gold membership. I should have known it was too good to be true.

I ran through the 14-day trial period and decided to buy a license for PlayOn. It continued to work great for about 2 more weeks…and then all of the sudden…I had issues connecting to Hulu. That seemed to get resolved after a few days; however, it hasn’t been the same since. I’ve had nothing but problems with video lag, stuttering, hanging, audio and video being out of sync. To PlayOn’s credit, they seem to be releasing updates/patches to try to keep up with all of the bugs – I’ve had the “luxury” of downloading and installing at least 5 PlayOn updates/patches since installing the software a little over 2 months ago.

I’ve worked with their support staff for a couple of days trying to resolve the issue. Unfortunately,
I’ve pretty much lost hope after the last contact from their support said the following:

“This is often indicative of something such as Security or AntiVirus software killing the stream. That’s almost certainly what is going on here.”

I had already told them that I had uninstalled my anti-virus to eliminate that as the culprit – and I wasn’t running a software firewall; yes, I have an external firewall, but no changes have been made to it – AND let’s not forget, PlayOn did work fine initially for the first month or so.

So, I’m pretty chalking up PlayOn as a loss. Of course, your mileage may vary. I just don’t have the time or patience anymore. It has to be quite a challenge for the PlayOn developer staff to stay on top of all of the changes that the various video content providers make.

I’m thinking my best bet is to look at getting a small PC or Mac Mini to hook up directly to my TV, maybe slap a digital tuner in it, and call it good. I guess that would solve my DVR issue too!

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7 Comments

  1. @ Jill, thanks for the comment. I’m sure I’ll end up checking back occasionally for new updates; and I’m sure the software and features will continue to improve and evolve. If Hulu continues to make it a challenge to use PlayOn, it will eventually frustrate consumers enough to look for other solutions. There aren’t too many pieces of software out there that I recommend to my friends, but PlayOn was one of them…so I really do hope it continues to improve!

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  2. It is nice to see some response about this sound problem that is not new news. I have the sound sync problem and have the life time subscription. So far I have found no answer or solution. This problem is on any channel I use. Any thing over 30min makes playon
    TV software useless to me. At least post the problem as something you are working on. This is a very common problem. I have a galaxcy s2.

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  3. If anyone out there has found a fix for the below and would share it – it would be greatly appreciated…..

    ISSUE – PlayOn Sound all of a sudden became “muffled”, can’t hear words clear and “crackling”, No PlayOn Playback Device listed in SOUND list – even with Show Disabled Devices checked to show – Only sound listed is speakers
    Windows 7

    PlayOn support has been quick in trying to assist us, however, after 2 days and more hours than we have counted, none of the fixes below have worked….(we are still currently in a back and forth email for additional fixes with them)

    THE RESULT WAS THE SAME FOR ALL OF THE BELOW “FIXES”, other results listed b as well – RESULT- STILL NO PLAYON AUDIO DEVICE LISTED WITH AND SOUND STILL MUFFLED
    1. Please stop the PlayOn server
    Right Click on the speaker icon in the system try and select “playback devices”
    Is the PlayOn Virtual Audio Device listed? If so, please make sure it is enabled.
    Right click on the device and select properties.
    Click on the Advanced tab and change the value in the drop down to 16 bit 44100 kHZ (CD or DVD quality)
    If the PlayOn Virtual Audio Device is not listed, right click on the Playback devices window and select “view disabled devices”. Re-enable the PlayOn Virtual Audio device and then follow the rest of the instructions above.
    Please uninstall PlayOn and reboot your PC. Reinstall PlayOn and try another video. Any difference? (NO DIFFERENCE)
    2. Please try the following:
    Stop the PlayOn Server
    Navigate to Program Files(x86)>MediaMall>Drivers
    Right click on the Install.bat file and select “run as administrator”
    Do you receive any errors? (NO ERRORS)
    Start the PlayOn server and try another video. Any difference? (NOPE)
    3. That said, we are happy to help. What files do you see listed in the Program Files(x86)>MediaMall>Drivers folder? Is there a file named “Install”? If so, please right click on that file and select “run as administrator”. Are you presented with any errors?
    RESULT – NO ERRORS
    4. Please stop/start PlayOn and try playing a video using PlayOn at your PS3 once more. Any difference? (NO DIFFERENCE)
    5. Please stop/start PlayOn and try playing a video using PlayOn at your PS3 once more. Any difference? (NO DIFFERENCE)
    6. We are sorry for the persistence of this issue.
    7. As a test, please roll back your IE installation from IE9 to IE8. (Did not make a difference)
    8. Now that you have rolled back to IE8, please uninstall Adobe Flash using the Adobe Uninstall Tool (first link), and then reinstall it through Internet Explorer (*not* Firefox or Chrome) and restart the PlayOn server. (DID NOT WORK)
    9. Please uninstall PlayOn, reboot your PC, download a fresh copy of the installer and reinstall. This should prompt the PlayOn Virtual Audio Device to install. (NO CHANGE)
    10. Do you have another PC to test with? (TESTED ON OLD PC – NO SOUND AT ALL and extremely slow loading)

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  4. Should have read this before investing in lifetime Playon/PlayLater. True, it does work for a little while but when it stops working on a particular channel, it is so frustrating trying to debug it.

    In my case Crackle does not work – stalls on the first commercial. This is not a show-stopper since there are umteen different ways to watch Crackle. However, I wanted to use PlayLater with a Crackle series that Crackle implied would be no longer available soon.

    I tried everything — IE modifications, no Norton, user/administrator mode rebooting, etc. etc. and it won’t work consistently on my Roku, iDevices, and Nexus 7. Sent them nearly dozen logs. I’m ready to throw in the towel too and regret having paid for Lifetime.

    Too bad the developers love to blame everything (Norton, internet, the weather) and not admit that they are having difficulties keeping up with channel code changes.

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  5. I personally think Playon is just a big ripoff. I made no changes to my computer’s settings, and then one day, Playon suddenly started to make bad recordings without warning. Specifically, the audio in recordings stuttered and only played at half speed, even though the video played just fine. This happens on all channels.

    I know enough about firewalls and antivirus software to know that they don’t create this sort of affect. This is an issue either with the Playon software or the server it uses.

    Due to the nature of what I have experienced so far, I would even go as far as to believe that this is intentional and that the software was designed to do this. The reason for this is because the sudden going from ‘running just fine’ to ‘acting like crap’ is VERY suspicious. Also, The stories I have read on the internet about Playon literally sound the same as mine, leading me to believe that no computer setting (or Playon setting, for that matter) can fix the problem. On top of this, the software should have been able to work with firewalls and antivirus on, just like any other credible software out there.

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