I was an avid user of Beyond TV and then Windows Media Center. Sadly both programs have been retired. When WMC was discontinued, I went in search of another option. I wanted to move away from digital tuner cards as well. I looked for DVR software I could load on my PC to download streaming videos and TV content.
While researching I came across PlayOn and it has been my home DVR ever since. PlayOn will record shows and movies on many streaming platforms including Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Spectrum/Charter/Comcast Cable.
Why Record Streaming Videos with Playon?
You may wonder, if videos and shows are available to stream, why would you want to put them on a DVR. Here’s a few specific examples.
Hulu requires a higher tier subscription in order to stream on more than one device at the same time. You also must pay more to not show commercials. Actually, even then, some shows still have commercials.
By recording them to my PC using PlayOn, I can skip over any commercials. I can also record shows in the middle of the night which frees up Hulu for my kids to use at other times.
Netflix has a lot of content, but many shows do not stay on Netflix forever. Saving the shows I’m interested in also me to watch them whenever. Also, I can copy the shows to an iPad or laptop to what offline.
Netflix will only let you download and watch their original content videos offline.
My primary reason for saving On Demand content to my PlayOn DVR is to skip the commercials. The amount of commercials you are forced to watch using On Demand is often ridiculous.
PlayOn Desktop vs PlayOn Cloud
PlayOn Desktop is a one time purchase and runs on your own hardware. PlayOn Cloud is a recording service and you pay per recording.
I’ve only used PlayOn Desktop. It gives me complete control since it runs on my PC. Though the price per recording isn’t much on PlayOn Cloud, it will start to add up over time.
PlayOn offer has deals for PlayOn Desktop. I bought it for about $40. You can see the current price of PlayOn on their website.
How To Watch DVR Recordings
I have Roku TV’s and Roku boxes on my not so smart TVs. PlayOn has a Roku app. I used it for years, but it is a very basic file folder structure.
Now, I view my DVR recordings using the free version of Plex instead. Plex has a much nicer interface than PlayOn. It also allows me to deleted recording from my Roku TV after I have watched them. The PlayOn app for Roku does not have the ability to delete recordings.
Roku vs Smart TVs
There are a lot of smart TVs on the market with built in streaming apps for sites like Netflix. However, I would choose Roku over all of them for a few reasons.
- Unless you already have a smart TV, buying one would be costly.
- There are a lot of variations in which apps are available on smart TVs. With Roku, the apps and user interface are the same on each Roku tied to your account. So if you can use one Roku you can use them all, regardless of whether or not all of your TVs are the same.
- In my experience most smart TV interfaces are slow. An exception to this is a Roku TV. It is a TV with the Roku software and hardware built in. The Roku TV remote can control everything. I have a few of these too. You can often find great deals on Roku TVs on Amazon. Here’s a 55″ example.
- If there is a new service or service feature (think Netflix profiles) you’d like to use, you’re at the mercy of the TV manufacturer to decide when or if to update the TV’s software. Roku is great about staying on top of these new features and adding Roku channels.
If you are looking for a great DVR software I recommend checking out PlayOn. You won’t be disappointed.