Roku Channel Review – PlayOn

 In The Truth About Cutting The Cord – Part 3: Suggested Software, I explained – “One final server I will mention that you may want to download onto your dedicated PC to access via your Roku is called PlayOn. But, I only want to MENTION it and not necessarily SUGGEST it.

 The reason being is that as of date, I have not found PlayOn to be living up to the claims found on their website. Many of the “live” channels they claim to have simply don’t work, or are in fact NOT “live” at all. In fact, the only “live” channel I can get to work on it is HBO Comedy This in itself may be worth it to you (I paid the $24.99 per year fee – may drop it at the end of the term). But hey – that’s YOUR call!”

   Sad to say, my view of PlayOn has not changed months later. In all fairness, I’ve tried to give PlayOn a fighting chance – I truly have. But the fact that most of the “channels” that PlayOn offers tend to return errors, or only contain clips of shows under folders marked “Full Episodes”, really makes it pretty much impossible to recommend.
   The idea behind PlayOn (and what sells it) is that it aggregates live channel streams into one. Unfortunately this is inconsistent at best, more often simply non-existent. On the occasion that I have gotten a live stream to work (as mentioned above, I seem to have the best luck with HBO Comedy), I was left with the feeling that the stream was coming from some 12-year-old kid who figured out how to live stream his parent’s cable – this after waiting for about 5 minutes for the stream to actually load. This lack of true content alone is horrible to say the least because the channel line up that PlayOn presents on the main screen is quite impressive – from your typical CBS stations all the way up to the NFL Network.
   Want to add more channels? PlayOn’s website offers a list of official channels, as well as it’s own underbelly of channels created by freelance developers. Again, this approach is somewhat awesome. But the fact of the matter is that many of these developers create a PlayOn channel, stream to it or maintain the link for the respective channel’s stream for a while, and the channel eventually becomes useless (which usually means they simply get sick of maintaining the channel).
   On the bright side, the PlayOn Server itself is actually very well developed. PlayOn is upfront about system requirements – I’m impressed by the fact that they basically flat out tell you that if you don’t have at least a dual-core processor, don’t even bother. Adding channels is a breeze – even those developer community created channels. The server interface is clutter free and intuitive, with tabbed categories that make sense. But sadly a great server is for not without being the great tool it claims to be.
   I will also give PlayOn credit for continuing to try to develop and evolve – with added features like Play Mark, Play Later, and the recent addition of HD. However, PlayOn team, what good are all the bells and whistles if the train itself isn’t even moving?

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