Here's how I go to bat for you, my beloved cheeps: The PlayOn folks came to me and said, "Hey, we're introducing this new AdSkipper technology, and we'd like to offer your readers a bundle: Lifetime PlayOn and PlayLater licenses for $49.99."
"Sounds great," I said. "That's for the HD versions, right?"
"No," they said, "The HD versions will add another $15."
"Pass," I said. "Not good enough." That would be only $5 less than the last time I shared a PlayOn/PlayLater bundle. And you gotta have HD!
No doubt you can guess what happened next. For a limited time, you can get lifetime PlayOn HD and PlayLater HD licenses for $49.99. Or start an annual subscription for $29.99, though I think lifetime makes a lot more sense. Either way, you get AdSkipper. And HD. For way less than usual. Win!
As you may recall, PlayOn slings shows from your Windows PC to various devices, including tablets, smartphones, game consoles, and media center boxes. It's akin to Roku, with your PC filling the role of "the box." (Indeed, you can actually use a Roku box as the bridge between your PC and your TV. And that allows you to stream from Hulu without paying for a Hulu Plus subscription.)
As for PlayLater, it can record from most of the same channels that PlayOn can stream. These include ABC, Amazon Instant Video, Comedy Central, Food Network, HBO Go (!), NBC, SyFy, and TBS. (Obviously certain channels, like HBO Go and Netflix, require you to have an active, paid subscription. But many of them are free.)
In other words, PlayLater turns your PC into a DVR that can record various normally-unrecordable sources for later viewing. It stores these recordings as MP4 files, and can even auto-sync with Android, Windows Phone, and other devices.)so they're queued up and ready for viewing on your iDevice. (Those files will also play on
With AdSkipper in the mix, any shows you record from network sources (NBC, Fox, etc.) will give you the option of hopping past commercials when watching on Chromecast, Roku, or the PlayOn app. And you know what? It works! I did a quick test on my Roku box and enjoyed (ish) an episode of "Marry Me" commercial-free. (Psst! Don't tell the networks!)
Though it can be buggy, this dynamic duo offers quite a lot of bang for the buck, especially at this price. If you fancy yourself a cord-cutter, or just want a way to record lots of TV for later/offline viewing, you seriously cannot beat this bundle.
Bonus deal: Game time! Steam is offering 10 games you can play for free all weekend long -- as well as deep discounts on all of them should you decide to buy. The only trick is deciding what to play; options include Company of Heroes 2, Grid 2, Payday 2, and Injustice: Gods Among Us. Your free-play time starts now and ends Sunday at 1 p.m. PT.
Bonus deal No. 2: I like a flash drive you can leave plugged in full-time, which helps alleviate storage woes on laptops with small SSDs. Of course, it needs to be tiny, otherwise you run the risk of knocking it loose every time it goes in or out of your travel bag. For a limited time, and while supplies last, Newegg has the Mushkin Enhanced Atom 32GB USB 3.0 flash drive for $13.99, plus $0.99 for shipping. That's after applying coupon code EMCWPWD232 at checkout. The unit barely protrudes from the port it's plugged into, and it comes with a 2-year warranty. Update: This is sold out, at least from Newegg proper. A third-party seller is offering it (via Newegg) for a few dollars more, but the coupon code won't work.