PlayOn is a program that has been serving up content to Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and other DLNA capable receivers for a while now. Users of Windows 7 Media Center have been left in the dark up until this point though despite being DLNA capable. That is, until now. Elutmann1 on The Green Button forums has developed a plug-in called PlayIt, letting Media Center users connect to a PlayOn server.
PlayOn provides access to many of the same providers as other streaming media plug-in for Media Center but through a different means. Instead of simply retrieving a webpage and using fancy mouse trickery to present a full screen video, PlayOn uses DLNA to stream the just video itself over the network. This means that PlayIt can use the native playback functions of Windows 7 Media Center including fast forward, pause/play and stop.
PlayIt integrates so well into the native Media Center scheme that it makes it hard to pass up for those wanting that higher level of integration that similar plug-ins lack. There is a down-side, however, as the PlayOn server software isn’t free. For a meager $39.99 you get Netfilx, Amazon Video On Demand, Hulu, CBS, ESPN and even YouTube delivered seamlessly into the Media Center environment.
Despite the price tag of PlayOn this level of integration is worth it. Not everything is glitz and glamour yet with the plug-in, however, as some of the sections provide links to empty areas which may leave some users scratching their heads. The front page of the service selection could be slightly more appealing as well. Also, you’ll need to enter your login information for the various services inside the PlayOn server software, though this isn’t really a fault of the plug-in.
Getting setup and running with PlayOn and the PlayIt plug-in took only minutes (without entering login information) and there is a trial available for those who want to give it a run before laying down the cash. The video quality is still that of streaming media but the redeeming factors here are amazing. There really isn’t a compelling reason to not give these programs a trial run.
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