If you have a PC, router, and game console, you can watch Internet-sourced video on the TV your console is hooked up to with PlayOn from MediaMall Technologies. It's software that you install on your PC; there's no need to buy any new gizmo or hook anything else up. It relays on-demand streaming content from your PC to your TV, entertainment center, or other compatible device via your Wii, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, or other compatible game console, allowing you to enjoy old episodes of "Gilligan's Island" in true couch potato fashion, remote in one hand, refreshing beverage in the other.
Speaking of sofa spuds, PlayOn is designed to be easy to install and set up, even for those lacking the nerd gene. To use PlayOn, you need a broadband Internet connection in addition to the gear. The developer strongly recommends wired connections (such as Ethernet) to avoid streaming interruptions, but home networks are getting faster and more reliable all the time, so it's an option. You'll also need to make sure your antivirus and other security software is set up to allow PlayOn to function. And function it does. Using your console's familiar interface, PlayOn finds all accessible devices and content and displays it in an easy-to-use menu. As you might guess, watching Net video on your TV is fun.
The Internet is now a primary source for content, thanks to video-streaming sites like Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix that offer movies, TV shows, and more, often for free. To access much of that free online content via PlayOn, though, you'll have to subscribe to the monthly PlayOn Premium service. With cable TV bills climbing ever higher, it may still be an affordable option for on-demand video, especially if your PC and TV lack the necessary connectors and capabilities to link up directly, such as an HDMI cable.
Editors' note: This is a review of the full version of PlayOn 2.59.3848. The trial version is limited to 14 days.