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PlayOn Cloud - This Cloud Does Have a Silver Lining

edited July 2017 in Software
PlayOn is known for their media server software and streaming DVR software; however, in November of 2016 PlayOn released PlayOn Cloud, a system which shifts the DVR burden from your local PC to PlayOn's own servers. PlayOn does this by creating a virtual PC in the cloud, that uses PlayOn's screen capture video technology to record the requested video from any of 12 popular streaming providers in real-time. Recorded videos can then be downloaded to many mobile devices or your PC for playback later, offline – also known as time-shifting.

To be honest, as an owner of PlayOn Desktop, when PlayOn Cloud was released I really didn't see the purpose. However, lately I've been having Internet issues at home, and have discovered that PlayOn Cloud can be very useful for users with slow, or limited home Internet connection options, but that have access to high-speed, unlimited mobile plans.

PlayOn Cloud, while supporting download to mobile devices for offline playback, does not officially support downloading to mobile devices and then copying those downloads to another device - for that you would use the link provided by email to download to a PC or laptop. Now, I don't know about you, but I don't have unlimited tethering on my mobile device, but I do have 'unlimited' data on my mobile phone. Therefore, I was determined to find out if it WAS possible to copy downloaded files from my phone to my PC, and use my unlimited mobile phone data instead of my home Internet connection. And I am happy to report that YES it can be done!

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The Basics

These basic steps would be required prior to downloading files from any device.
  1. Create a PlayOn account if you do not already have one.
  2. Download PlayOn Cloud app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.
  3. Login to the PlayOn Cloud app on your mobile device.
  4. Login to desired provider (Amazon, Hulu, Netflix) - you must be a subscriber to the service that you intend to use.
  5. Schedule a recording using the PlayoOn Cloud app on your mobile device.
  6. ...and wait (Remember that Playon records in real-time, a two-hour movie will take two hours to record.)
  7. Once you have received notification that the recording is complete, download the recording to your device, and proceed to mobile device specific instructions below.

Copying PlayOn recordings from an Android device using a PC

Full disclosure here, I don't have an Android phone with unlimited data. Therefore, for this test I tethered an Android tablet to my iPhone to download the MP4 file created by the PlayOn system. However, the process for finding and copying the files from any Android device should be fundamentally the same. I also have only tested this using a Windows 10 PC and have not tested this method using a Mac.
  1. Connect your Android device to a PC via USB cable.
  2. Open Windows Explorer and search your Anroid device for any MP4 files (HINT: you can use the wildcard search '*.mp4')
  3. Locate the downloaded MP4 file in the file list, the file shouldn't be hard to find as they are stored as 'title.mp4', open the file location in a new window. Alternatively, you can navigate manually to the directory - INTERNAL STORAGE > ANDROID > DATA > COM.PLAYONRECORDER.CLOUDDAPP > FILES, which is where I found my downloaded movie located.
  4. Copy the selected MP4 file to your PC.
  5. DONE!
  6. Play the copied MP4 file on your PC, copy the MP4 file to another device to enjoy, or stream it!

Copying PlayOn recordings from an iOS device using PC

Since traditionally the file system for iOS is locked down much harder than Android, it is somewhat more difficult to copy downloaded movies from your iDevice to your PC, and possibly more expensive. However, using a piece of third party software to circumvent the default iOS restrictions it is possible to use an iOS device for this task.

1) Download and install an iOS utilities program that allows access to iOS file system. For my test, I downloaded and installed iMazing, which is a paid program that offers a free trial. I originally was planning to use iFunbox, which is free, but I ran into some installation issues and elected to use iMazing which worked brilliantly in actual usage. Download a free trial of iMazing.
2) Launch iMazing and follow the prompts to connect your device.
3) Using iMazing, navigate to the directory located at - FILE SYSTEM > APPS > PLAYON CLOUD > DOCUMENTS, which should contain any PlayOn downloaded files.
4) Locate the downloaded MP4 file in the list, the file shouldn't be hard to find as they are stored as 'title.mp4'.
6) Use iMazing to copy the selected movie to your PC.
7) DONE!
8) Play the copied MP4 file on your PC, copy the MP4 file to another device to enjoy, or stream it!

- Pros -
  • Inexpensive option to time-shift or permanently download movies and TV for offline viewing.
  • Download MP4 files to a mobile device with unlimited data, useful for users with limited home Internet connection options.
  • Standard MP4 file format - downloaded files will play virtually anywhere!
  • Multiple download and playback options - desktop or mobile device.
  • Avoid download limits imposed by some providers - like Netflix as reported by Fox News

Cons
  • Costs Money
  • PlayOn and PlayOn Cloud do not have the prettiest interfaces, but they are functional.
  • DVD quality files - if you are a diehard videophile only concerned with the highest bitrates, this may not be the option for you.

You can get more information regarding PlayOn Cloud at playon.tv, and iOS users can get additional information regarding iMazing at imazing.com.

Have you used PlayOn Cloud? ...if you have please share your experiences below.

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