PlayOn Testing Chromecast Support

from PlayOn’s forums

We have some exciting news: support for the Chromecast and a completely redesigned PlayOn browser extension are almost ready to be released! We know many of you are anxious to try it sooner rather than later, so we’re making this new version available as a beta release.

Should you use the beta?

Sure! Just know that betas are unstable and may not always work as expected, so go into this expecting a few hiccups.

What do I do with it?

Well, this version is essentially the same as the version you use right now, so just use PlayOn and PlayLater as you normally would. The only difference is you’ll see your Chromecast devices appear in the device list for PlayCast and the browser extension will look very different (and very cool).

How can I get started?

To make it easy to install the new browser extension, uninstall PlayOn and PlayLater. Then download the new versions of PlayOn and PlayLater from the links below. Even if you only use one or the other, you still need to download both installers.

http://www.playon.tv/downloads/beta/PlayOnSetup.3.9.0.exe

http://www.playon.tv/downloads/beta/PlayLaterSetup.1.5.0.exe

Once you have both installers downloaded, install PlayOn first and then install PlayLater.

What if something is really busted?

Please send email with any feedback, questions, or problems you might have to support@playon.tv.

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Mailbag: 11/16/2013

The email address for this blog is thebeersoncomcast@gmail.com.  If you found the blog, but no answer, feel free to drop me a line.  Here are some responses to visitors’ questions…

Q: Can I attach an antenna to a Roku?

A: No.  Not yet at least.  Audiovox is supposed to release an antenna with a Roku Stick this quarter, but there has been no buzz about this since January.  I like the Simple.TV whole house DVR for this.  It has a single tuner that can be used by the DVR or up to five televisions tuned to watch a single channel of programming.  You can add as many DVRs as you like.  The new v2 DVRs are made by SiliconDust and include two tuners in the box.

Q: Can I get continuous programming on my Roku?

A: Yes.  Sort of.  The B/W channel is true Linear Programming.  Linear Programming means that someone plans 24 hours worth of programming and you watch whatever is on when you tune  in the channel.  If you just want to have something play continuously, there are a lot of channels that let you ‘Play all’ clips.

Q: Can I get Live TV without cable/satellite?

A: Sure.  Visit TVFool.com to see what channels you can expect to receive with an antenna and visit TitanTV.com to see what is on those channels.  No reception in your location?  Check out Aereo and Skitter.

Q: Is it illegal to ‘format shift’ DVDs I have purchased and stream them from a media server in my home.

A: Maybe.  I am not a lawyer.  You can read about Fair Use here.  The Copyright Office of the US concedes that, “The doctrine of fair use has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years,” and that, “[the] distinction between what is fair use and what is infringement in a particular case will not always be clear or easily defined.”  Even as I key this, courts are conflicted as to what Fair Use is.  If you are making your digital copies available to others, then you are probably going to have a problem.  If you download digital copies made available by others, you are probably going to have a problem.  If you are making copies of copyrighted materials you legally purchased and are taking reasonable measures to prevent others from using the copies illegally, you are probably not on anyone’s radar, because you are not “[diminishing] the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work.”  That said, you are on your own if the courts disagree.

Q: Is PlayOn/PlayLater legal?

A: No one is suing MediaMall.  Just the same, whether you are using a Roku, Plex, or PlayOn, beware of third party scripts.  It’s almost never OK to download copyrighted materials without compensating the copyright holder.

Q: Is there a YouTube channel for Roku?

A: Yes.  Quite a few.  What’s On (enter asecret as your zip code and restart to reveal YT content); VideoBuzz (must be side-loaded); Plex and PlayOn both have Roku channels that include YouTube scripts.

Q: What’s the best DVR for cable cutters?

A: Tivo — if money is no object.  Simple.TV is a whole house DVR that is smart like Tivo but less capable and less expensive.  SiliconDust and Simple are collaborating on a two tuner Simple.TV DVR.  If you just want to record shows off the air and pause/rewind/fast forward televisions, it’s tough to beat EchoStar’s DTVPal.  The DTVPal is out of production, but EchoStar and ChannelMaster are working on a new DVR that combines OTA recording with OTT features.  If you want to record web videos and Netflix streamed programming, check out PlayOn/PlayLater by MediaMall.

Play*

I didn’t want to love Play*, but I can’t help it.  All they do it make it very easy for me to watch what I want to watch when I want to watch it.  It’s only 480p, but 480p looks surprisingly good on my 43″ 720p plasma and amazing on my Kindle Fire.  For $70, Netflix, Hulu, Food Network, and the History Channel are always on for me.

So, what is Play*?  Play* is my nickname for MediaMall’s suite of streaming media programs.  The suite consists of PlayOn, PlayLater, and PlayCast.  PlayOn is software that streams files from web servers to your television.  Channels, scripts, and plugins format files from web servers for your television.  The files include episodes from many cable programs.  For cable cutters, PlayOn is a lifeline to the Food Network, the History Channel, and other compelling programming.  PlayLater is a DVR for this programming.  PlayLater lets you store programming you would watch with PlayOn for viewing at a later time.  The stored programs are saved as MP4 files that can be viewed with any software on any platform that supports the MP4 format.  PlayCast is a browser plugin that streams whatever is playing in your browser window to a PlayOn client.

How does Play* work?  PlayOn and PlayLater are software packages that can be purchased from MediaMall and must be installed on a Windows PC running Internet Explorer.  The programs read files from your media server and/or web servers and streams the files to a device on your network that can interpret the stream and output it in a format compatible with your television.  PlayCast is a browser extension that streams files from your web browser to your PlayOn compatible device — Chromecast for *every* streaming media platform.

Why you will love Play*!  First, there is a one time charge of $70.  For this fee, you get a lifetime subscription to PlayOn plus the PlayLater DRV, and PlayCast.  You can watch content aggregated and formatted for viewing from the couch.  That’s a pretty good deal.  You can also timeshift or placeshift this content.  The shifted contented is saved as MP4 formatted files which are suitable for playing on a tablet of phone, so you can enjoy your media even when there is no internet at all or where access to the internet is restricted.  For instance…

  • Last week, I was traveling on business.  Before I left, I dragged some files from my PlayLater folder to my laptop for the plane ride.
  • When I got the the hotel, I plugged a Roku 2 XS into the television.  I had installed the Nowhere USB channel and was able to enjoy a USB drive of PlayLater content without internet access/authentication.
  • We lose our power frequently and for days at a time.  I have a generator and a tv antenna, but internet access is limited to cell phones.  PlayLater provides entertainment absent internet access.
  • We will use these files with the TV and Roku we take camping
  • When a web site removes or rotates content, I can still play it off my DVR

Why you might NOT like Play*!  For starters, it is only 480p.  I played some PlayLater recordings on a 55″ set and, with glasses from six feet, it looked fine, but it’s 480p.  A lot of recordings fail.  Sometimes you can restart and enjoy success, but some simply do not record.

Let’s get started!  Installing and using Play* is pretty straight forward, but here are the steps…

  1. Before committing to Play* consult the compatibility list and forums to make sure you have the hardware to support the software and check the channel list to make sure you will watch what PlayOn serves.
  2. Buy, download, and install PlayOn.  Hint: if, during installation, you are prompted to close a browser which is not apparently open, open task manager, look for browser processes, and close them.  For me, Chrome was running in the background.
  3. Enable PlayCast for your browser.  Open up PlayOn Settings and click on the Browsers tab. Click on the checkboxes to enable PlayOn for your favorite browsers then click the Apply button.
  4. (You may need to enable the PlayOn helper app in your browser)
  5. Open your browser to a media page and click the PlayOn icon and a window will open and play the media.  Once the video begins playing in this window, click the Next button.  Click the Record To or PlayCast To button, select your target device, and enjoy!

Remote Access  For me, accessing Playon from a cell phone was a lot like having sex for the first time. I thought I knew what I was doing, everything was a little different than I expected. In the end, I was extremely satisfied, but wasn’t sure what had happened.

First base: The auto configuration failed, so I tried to manually configure my router. Once I was in the port forwarding area I returned to Playon to read the helpful hint provided upon failure. The hint was gone, so I selected automatic and hit apply and it worked. My guess is that it would have worked had I not changed the userid and password on my router. Having logged on, it was able to do the rest.

Second base: I installed the app from the app store on the S3 phone. No problems at all.

Third base: Had no problem locating my server via WiFi and we were quickly streaming. I’m still not sure what ‘additional configuration’ is required for 3g/4g only access.

Home: Turned off WiFi and streamed some PlayLater recordings to the phone.

It does work and performance was very good. One thing you notice when browsing the Android app is that once you are presented with a PlayTo menu that allows you to play to ‘this device’ or any of your Rokus, so you can PlayTo without running back to the PC — just use your android device to manage the service from your easy chair.

Epilog  That’s all I’ve got.  I think PlayOn, PlayLater, and PlayCast are a delightful addition to to any entertainment ecosystem.  Give Play* a try.  If you don’t like it, MediaMall will refund your $70.

Tip: Tabcasting Playon

Just a quick for Chromecast owners who run a Playon server.  Google and Playon have sent out a LOT of updates in July and August.  Along the way, http://m.playon.tv in a Chrome tab stopped working properly.  This post provides two workarounds.

The Problem:  When you open http://m.playon.tv in a Chrome tab, the user interface populates with your channels, but clicking a channel does nothing.

Playon’s Response:  You are trying to do something that is unsupported…

Alex Webster (PlayOn Support)
Sep 01 10:39 (EDT)

Len,

PlayOn is not meant to be browsed from a web browser. We do know that Chrome at one point did work, but they have since updated their web browser and it no longer works the same. However, if you use your arrow keys and enter button you can still browse through your server via m.playon.tv in your web browser. The issue is just that it will no longer pick up mouse clicks.

Kind regards,

Alex
PlayOn Support
http://www.playon.tv

Workaround #1:  Use your keyboard.  All that is broken is mouse support, so use the cursor keys to navigate the screen and the enter key to simulate a click.  Once the video is loaded in the Chrome tab, you still need to click the Play control.  This is the only workaround I have tried.

Workaround #2:  Rollback.  I don’t know if this will work, but I was headed down this path before learning that keyboard navigation still functioned.  I’m only posting the information here because it took me a little time to figure things out.  It looks like Google deployed a new flash player which broke the Playon page.  If you only use Chrome for Playon, you may want to try to roll back to an earlier version and prevent updates.

While this seems easy, Google does not archive old revisions in a public place, by default enables automatic updates, and re-enables auto-updates when you open help.  So, you need to locate an older version, uninstall the current version completely, install the older version, disable updates, and re-disable updates everytime you use Chrome help.

Q: Can I roll back Google Chrome to a previous version?
A: No – rollback is not supported.
To get to a previous version (which would not be supported by Google), you would need to uninstall your current version, delete every user’s saved profile data, and re-install the older version. Users’ personal profile data is kept in:

On Windows XP: C:\Documents and Settings\\Local Settings\Application Data\Google\Chrome\User Data
On Windows Vista / 7: C:\Users\\AppData\Local\Google\Chrome\User Data

This means users will lose their bookmarks, history, etc., so use this method with extreme caution.

Google does not provide access to older versions of chrome, but you can find them here…

http://www.oldapps.com/google_chrome.php

Here are two methods for turning off autoupdates…

Aereo One Month Later

It’s been a little over a month since I signed up for Aereo.  My first impressions have been documented in this review.  I just wanted to let you know of two developments that have made Aereo a much more attractive product…

  1. Fox Movies! has been added to the list of Aereo channels.  Fox Movies is a 24×7 movie channel that brings classic Fox movies to broadcast television.  I cannot believe how often I stop on this channel.  The fact that this channel was added so quickly makes me confident that GetTV will be added in the fall.  Great job Aereo!
  2. Aereo is now a Playon channel.  For $50 you can purchase a lifetime subscription to Playon.  Playon streams internet programming and local files to ‘edge’ devices.  Supported devices include consoles (PS3, Xbox 360, WII U, and WII), tablets (iPad, Nook Color, and Kindle Fire), and many smart devices (televisions and Blu-Ray players).

Since both Playon and Aereo offer free trials, I urge those who have been considering cutting their cable service to try sample this dynamic duo.  Read my Playon review here and my Aereo review here.

Note:  If you are having problems with the Playon Aereo channel, make sure you have the latest version of Flash installed.  See this.

Solved: Youtube on Roku (Updated 8/8/2013)

VideoBuzz is now opensource and can be installed using a script.  More here.

YouTube is a popular channel on OTT streamers.  Roku has never officially supported a YouTube channel, but there are a number of private channels that support it.  One of these has been removed.  The VideoBuzz channel has been ‘voluntarily’ removed from the list of Roku channels.  VideoBuzz was unique among Roku YouTube channels in that it was simple to install, easy to use, and worked.

Why did Roku VideoBuzz Roku pull the channel?  No one knows.  Roku won’t say, but the mods and VCMs on http://forums.roku.com claim that there was an IP issue…

There’s been a fair bit of speculation about VideoBuzz and the reason it is being deactivated. I want to take a moment to elaborate:

Every developer agrees to abide by the terms of the Roku developer agreement when creating a developer account. Among the requirements in the agreement, we require that every channel publisher must have the appropriate rights or permission to distribute the content within their channel through Roku. Other requirements include written authorization is required for channels with international or foreign language content. Channels that violate the developer agreement are subject to deactivation, though typically we do give them a chance to come back into compliance (or prove they are not violating it) before acting on it — we do realize that it can be a complicated world when it comes to rights for content. Sometimes we’re made aware of channels through formal notices (e.g. DMCA takedown notices or cease and desist notices) and other times we are notified more informally. Since we respect all content owners’ rights, we have to take each notification seriously and explore it for violation. Regarding VideoBuzz specifically, we don’t believe that today a Roku channel can stream from YouTube without violating YouTube’s terms of service (at least specifically section II paragraph 14 of the YouTube Developer TOS).

That’s not really true.  It can’t be.  The mods and VCMs have been promoting the use of Plex as an alternative…

Plex on Roku, out of the box, won’t receive YouTube. If the user modifies the setup to enable it, neither Plex nor Roku is at fault. They took deliberate steps to prevent YouTube on Roku through Plex, and the user subsequently took deliberate steps to enable it.

Playon also streams YouTube to a Roku (right out of the box without the user deliberately doing anything except installing server and channel) — despite the fact that mention of the channel can get you banned from the forums.

There is the issue, here is the solution…

Continue reading

What I Watch: Summary

Here’s a chart that shows what kind of programming is available via the various solutions.  It should help in choosing the solution that most completely satisfies one’s programming needs.  That’s what you really wanted to know, right?  Keep in mind that Playon and Plex are servers that require a set top component and that neither of these can be used with the Sony Media Player (SMP).  Think of Playon and Plex as supplements to Roku that provide more programming but require a computer be running whenever programming is being served…

Continue reading

What I Watch: Playon

In our home, we rely primarily on broadcast television for news and entertainment.  We use streaming boxes and servers as well.  Some content is available via multiple vehicles.  I bought Playon because it was only $30 for a lifetime subscription when I purchased a Roku LT via the Playon Bundle Promotion.  I love Playon because it streams a lot of content to my Kindle Fire tablets.  These are the channels I watch via my Playon server (mostly on my Kindle Fires)… Continue reading

Playon Media Server (review)

Playon is a commercial server that aggregates content from web sites using ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ plugins and scripts.  A free version streams your media.  See the full list of channels here.  Playon channels are, for the most part, aggregators of files posted to internet servers.  The Food Network, for instance, is a bunch of episodes or programs that are on the Food Network rather than a continuous stream of programming. Continue reading