Apple really is making good on its promise to ease the restrictions that previously plagued developers such as PlayOn. The service initially had to rely on Safari power to bring its video-streaming goodness to iPhone and iPod Touch owners, but now there's an official, approved PlayOn Mobile app.
As someone who loves TV, I really wanted to like it. But PlayOn Mobile suffers from the same irksome (and in some cases inexplicable) limitations as its browser-based counterpart.
In case you're not familiar with it, PlayOn is an Internet-TV service that slings shows from your Windows PC to your game console, various media center boxes, and, now, your iPhone or iPod Touch. It's kind of like Roku, with your PC filling the role of "the box."
However, PlayOn offers a more compelling mix of channels than Roku, including Netflix, Hulu (the free, non-premium version), Amazon VOD, CBS, Comedy Central, ESPN.com and ESPN3, PBS Kids, CNN, and MLB.tv (which requires a subscription).
That's an impressive lineup, though somewhat less so now that Hulu and Netflix have standalone apps (each with dramatically better interfaces). On the other hand, Hulu's app works solely with Hulu Plus, the $9.99 a month subscription service, whereas PlayOn serves up all of Hulu's free content.
Speaking of money, the iOS app is free, but the PlayOn service costs $39.99 for the first year and $19.99 annually after that. You can also buy a lifetime subscription for $79.99--less than you'd pay for a single year of Hulu Plus.
Now for the bad news. The console versions of PlayOn have long been plagued by a poor interface, and I'm sad to say the app version is no different. For starters, the only way to access content is to drill down through extensive menus. There's no search option, which I find inexcusable.… Read more