Looking to cut the cord on cable TV? PlayOn is one of the services that can help ease the transition. It slings shows from your Windows PC to various devices, including game consoles, media center boxes, and an increasing number of handheld devices. It's kind of like Roku, with your PC filling the role of "the box."
In the past, PlayOn offered a free trial that expired after just 14 days, but now you can try PlayOn free of charge for one month. It's a great chance to see if it can really take some (or all) of the place of your pricey cable service.
PlayOn's channel lineup includes CBS, Comedy Central, Crackle, Spike, TBS, Syfy, and ESPN. You can also connect to your Amazon Video on Demand, Hulu, Netflix, MLB, and/or other accounts if you have them, and stream media stored on your PC.
Speaking of which, the server software runs on your PC (which must stay on, natch). You connect to it via something like an
Xbox 360, a Roku box, an iPhone or iPad, an
Android phone, or any other supported device.
The good news: PlayOn works quite well overall, and the subscription rates are hard to beat: $4.99 per month, or $39.99 for the first year and $19.99/year after that. If you really like what you see, you can pony up $79.99--less than many folks pay for one month of cable--for a lifetime license.
The bad news: PlayOn's interface, regardless of what device you use to access it, sucks. You can't so much as search for a particular show; you have to drill down through a seemingly endless series of plain-text menus to find what you're looking for.
All the more reason to try the service for a month and see if you can live with it.
Bonus deal: Don't own a PlayOn-compatible device? Today only, CowBoom has the refurbished Nintendo Wii game console for $109.99, plus $5 for shipping. It not only gives you a means for streaming PlayOn content to your TV, but also, from what I understand, plays games.
(CNET is published by CBS Interactive, a unit of CBS.)