HMG’s Hardware picks for a Playon TV server – All you need to dump cable!

Playon ( makes a great product. It works all the time. The updates are automatic and seamless. The channel selection rivals cable TV. Oh, It’s also priced right (click on link at bottom of my blog). They also give you plenty of information under their support heading to let you know if your PC or laptop can run their software. Be sure you get the processor specs from windows and then go to like they say on the site. When you match up your processor with the list they have, you will immediately know if you equipment is up to running the Playon software.

I am not a big advocate of repurposing older PC’s and laptops when it comes to video. That is why my friend Jim built me media PC from scratch so I could easily meet Playon’s requirements along with other software I run on my media server.

Listed below are some of the small form factor PC’s you could buy new today that meet the hardware requirements for Playon and other video/media tools for your media server.

  1. ASUS VivoPC VC60 Intel Core i5-3210M   3,803 ( A good review can be found at The Asus VC60 sells for around $518.00.
  2. A Chinese company Eglobal sells a fanless mini pc (|4245773825) for $389.46 which includes 4GB RAM, 16G SSD, 1TB HDD, 300M WIFI. Not a bad deal if you buy a lot online.

You wonder why I have not included many of the US brands you are used to seeing. First, I am looking for affordable devices. Second, many of the other brands use and Atom or Intel chip not listed by Passmark ( ). So take your time and look around.

What do you get for your $500-$600 PC purchase? Like the title says, you get Playon on a media server. So add up your monthly cable bill, and see how fast you get payback.

With Playon you get pretty much all your cable programming, and Hulu FREE, along with being able to send programs from your media server browser. And if you had a Roku box you can cast/mirror content from your tablet or smartphone.


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Amazon Fire TV – Another Box that Woulda Coulda Shoulda

You read article after article about the new Amazon Fire TV and see the praises heaped on the device. I admit if I was an Amazon prime member and had their tablets, I would look hard at this new entry into the IPTV market. But devices are not the only part of the IPTV viewing experience.

First, you need to know there are three discreet ways you can get IPTV.

  1. Windows PC – A great known in the market, running software like Playon TV, Hulu and a bunch of other apps, including XBMC and PLex media servers. I have a media PC running all of the above and love it.
  2. Linux – Roku and others use their own version of linux and provide their content via Channels you get for free and pay for. A great way to extend you PC an native Roku channels to different rooms in your house wirelessly (great picture quality). BUT, you can only get the channels that Roku lets you have, kind of like iTunes.
  3. Android – I hope this is the future. There are tons of apps made by everybody that gives you the choices we are all craving for. That is, don’t tell me what I want. Let me pick. The more choices I have, the more freedom I have. Not locked into anyone.

Just like the latest HDTV entries that come with their own built in apps, everybody has a different take on what consumers want. The book by Arthur Freeman entitled “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda: Overcoming Regrets, Mistakes, and Missed Opportunities” says a lot.

My regret is that every manufacturer wants to lock you into their system. Cable and cell phone companies have been doing this for a while (Don’t we love that?). What happened to “open systems”? Where users could pick what they wanted with few restrictions? Reading closely you find out that Amazon uses a “highly customized” version of Android; or in my view a locked version of android. If they woulda used a more open version of Android, you could pick from hundreds of apps not just from their list of available apps.

Amazon and others coulda given us a more open system, giving us choices and let us be loyal customers thankful for the choices.

Somebody shoulda told Amazon people want content, let us pick what we want to watch.

There is hope. I just purchased an Android media box disguised as a game controller. It is called Ouya. It started as a Kickstarter project and is now in production. I haven’t even set it up yet, but based on information on the internet and their forums will let you load all the apps you want without the Amazon, Roku, Boxee, etc. restrictions. So let me list you the FREE apps I am going to install which will also get me off of cable:

  1. ABC
  2. NBC
  3. CBS
  4. PBS
  5. Crackle
  6. Snagfilms
  7. French TV
  8. TV5 MONDE
  9. Tele-Loisirs
  10. Hulu/HuluPlus
  11. Playon
  12. Allcast
  13. YouTube
  14. Plex
  15. Netflix (maybe, Snagfilms has a ton of great movies)

I don’t know about you, but this pretty much fills my TV viewing appetite. So is the Amazon Fire TV a great device? Yep, as far as the device part goes, now who is going to step up and really give us what we want, freedom of choice? No one I know…yet.

YouTube for Roku Whoopee!

If you haven’t heard already, there is a new YouTube channel for the Roku 3. So What? Let me tell you. I search for full length films on YouTube and tag them to the “Watch Later” option. Then in my living room, using the new YouTube channel, go to the “Watch Later” feature and watch my movies for FREE! So who needs Netflix?

Add the Snag Filmls channel to your Roku 3 and you get tons of FREE movies to watch. So download the YouTube channel today!


Playon beats Hulu

I continue to use Playon and Playlater to view and record tv shows. Playon includes a Hulu channel so I decided to compare the selection of both Playon and Hulu. They share many of the same shows, but I found that my two favorites, NCIS and LA NCIS were not offered by Hulu. So take a close look at what you get from Hulu then go out and buy Playon. The ability to customize the channel lineup is a feature don’t see in other IPTV solutions.

good viewing


Streaming Internet TV or FREE Internet TV – There is a difference you need to know about

When you search on the internet for Free Internet TV you get hundreds of results. Most results cost money, some are free. What you don’t see up front is that almost all of them have TV shows and movies that are not LIVE. Even options like Roku and Apple TV offer hundreds of channels most of which do not provide Live streaming.

Why is this worth writing about? Because most us who are (or were) hooked on cable, expect a similar experience with Internet TV. Not so. Don’t get me wrong. The only TV show I watch Live anymore is the morning and evening news, and that is mainly for the traffic and weather. When there are no new TV shows on during the summer, or for some people every day of the year, most people leave the TV on any channel for the noise in the house. TV has replaced the radio our parents used to listen to years ago.

There are only two sources of live, leave it on all day Internet TV programming available today that I am aware of. The first is over the air with an antenna or The second is a limited number of web sites that stream their video output through their website.

I use a combination of all of the above. I use to get all my TV programming except for live local news. With Playon I also have access to the Free Hulu content. When TV networks post their TV content to be available on the Internet, Playon gives you the chance to watch the content and to record it locally and legally. I am happy. I also have a local 24 hour news TV station that streams their content real time and Playon lets me add that stream to my channel lineup.

Pretty sweet. BTW, don’t forget to follow my blog … I would appreciate it.


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