About a year or a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for Worldstart about the (then) new program called Playon. This allowed you to stream content from your computer through your Playon ready device (PS3, Wii, Tivo) and to your television instead of watching it on your computer monitor. Now Mediamall, the creators of Playon, have released Playlater, which they call “a DVR for Playon” (beta).
If you are a subscriber to Playon, you may have received a beta code for testing Playlater. I recommend that if you did to redeem it immediately. Although I would disagree that this could be classified as a DVR for reasons that I’ll explain later, this is a heck of a nice program. I’m not including a download link, because right now it’s only open to those who have received a code. If you would like to be placed on their waiting list for a code, though, you can go here http://www.playon.tv/playlater/ and clicking on the link that says “Sign up to get on our waiting list” right below the “Get Started” button.
The first thing that you’ll see when you open the Playlater interface is their guide, which is basically a list of the Playon channels that you have available.
You simply click on the guide channel that you want content from, choose whether you want clips or full programs and the show that you want to record and click on “record”. Your recording will begin immediately, unless you are already recording a program. In that case, since you can only record one program at a time, it will queue your program to record when the current program is finished. It records these programs in real time, so if a program is 25 minutes long, it will take 25 minutes to record. It will record the programs in a sub-directory called “Playlater” in your videos directory. These programs can be played back in (at least) WMP and Gom, but only on the PC THAT THEY ARE ORIGINALLY RECORDED ON. They are not portable. You can also access your recordings directly from Playlater on the “My Recordings” tab.
The content that is available for recording is any content from any of the channels available. For instance, on Netflix, you can record any of the television programs or movies that are available in the instant queue, as well as set the program to either pick up playback where you left off or restart the playback from the beginning.
The content records exactly as you would view it live, including commercials. Also, any pop-ups that appear on the program appear on the recording and you cannot close them. For instance, I recorded an episode of The Colbert Report, and when I viewed it back, had a pop-up for Orbit gum through most of the program. This also won’t help if you are on DSL or dial-up, since it records as it streams. If you have buffering pauses on your video real-time, you will have the pauses on your recording.
Another thing to remember is that the time listed for the show is an estimated time, and may vary. For instance, the Colbert show that I recorded looks like this in Playlater (I’ve added the red circle around the program time:)
You will note that the time listed for the program is 25 minutes. Since the program records in real time, and it hadn’t finished recording more than 40 minutes later, I thought that something had gone wrong. It turns out that, although 25 minutes is the run time for an episode of The Colbert Report including commercials on the Comedy Central channel, they included an expanded version of the interview with Ambassador Rice after the main program. It would be nice if Comedy Central had just replaced the aired version of the interview in the main body of the show rather than tacking it on, but they didn’t. What I would recommend in these cases is to simply skip the aired version of the interview and go straight to the expanded version rather than sitting through both.
So, if you’ve received a beta code for Playlater, go and download it and have fun. It is a nifty little program.