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PlayLater Online DVR: Download Netflix, Hulu, Other Video to PC

Developers of PlayOn streaming software introduce PlayLater, which lets users record streaming TV shows and movies to their PC hard drive, and enjoy the content offline.


PlayLater lets users enjoy streaming video “on a plane, maybe, or on safari [pictured] or just at grandma’s house.”
Julie Jacobson · March 19, 2012

If you can already stream a TV show or movie online, you can now watch it offline with PlayLater software, which records content directly to your PC hard drive.

The new software comes from the makers of PlayOn streaming software, which “place-shifts” your streaming content to the TV or mobile devices. PlayLater, on the other hand, “time-shifts” the content, so anything you might stream from Netflix, Hulu or any other popular service can be watched sans Internet.

The company suggests you might enjoy the content “on a plane, maybe, or on safari or just at grandma’s house.”

PlayLater says the service “works like a DVR for online videos.”

It captures content bit for bit, second per second, warts and all – with advertisements included among the warts. Since it records in real time, it takes one hour to record a one-hour show, and you can’t begin watching until the recording is finished.

According to the company:

PlayLater works very much like a DVR.  Simply select the show you want to record and PlayLater will either record it or add it to your queue to be recorded once the current recording is finished.  The show will record in real time on your computer just as it would on a DVR.  The recording will take place in the background on your computer so you can continue to do other things while PlayLater works. PlayLater is based on the technology in our PlayOn product.

The bummer is that PlayLater supports only PCs and Windows Media Player. It is not available natively via an iPad or other mobile device, but there is a workaround: simply use the PlayOn software in conjunction with PlayLater.

PlayOn is a largely unheralded content aggregation service that has a strong following among tech geeks. The software is downloaded onto a PC and then streamed via an Xbox, PlayStation, Wii, Roku, Google TV or other client device to the television. There are also native apps for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and other platforms.

As for PlayLater, the company says, “In the near future, we intend to have a standalone player solution for iOS and Android devices so that you may take your PlayLater recordings with you on your mobile devices.”

You can enjoy a two-week free trial of PlayLater or purchase the service for $19.99 per year (originally $39.99). A Lifetime subscription is available for $49.99 (originally $79.99).

A bundle with PlayLater and PlayOn starts at $7.99 per month.

Is it Legal?

PlayLater insists the technology is legal, “just like the broadcast DVR and VCR before it.” It is simply taking the content you might stream in real-time and allowing you to watch it at your convenience.

As such, you can only record content from subscription services like Netflix, MLB.tv and Amazon VOD if you have an account with them. Other services such as Hulu, ESPN, Fox, CBS and others may very well block access to the service, as they have done with PlayOn and other third-party party products in the past.



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Email Julie at jjacobson@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


News · DVR · PlayLater · PlayOn · All Topics
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