PlayLater debuts for PCs despite legal challenges

A company called MediaMall Technologies has introduced free beta software for its PlayLater service, a new DVR recording technology for video content delivered over the Internet.

The PlayLater application turns any Windows PC into a digital video recorder for online video. On its website, PlayLater poses the question that many will ask: Is PlayLater legal?

“PlayLater is a legal technology that is designed to let individuals watch legal online content at a time of their choosing. Just like the broadcast DVR and the VCR before it, PlayLater is designed for personal use and convenience,” the company wrote.

PlayLater works with streaming video from about three dozen Internet services, including Netflix, CBS, TBS, YouTube, Hulu, BET, Cartoon Network, CNN, Comedy Central, ESPN and ESPN3, Fox News, MTV, National Geographic, Nick, OWN, PBS and PBS Kids, Syfy Rewind and

During the beta period, PlayLater will be free of charge. When it’s officially released, the service will cost $4.99 per month or $49.99 per year. The software records shows streamed over the Internet in real time, just as a conventional recorder. Playback uses Microsoft Windows Media Player.

PlayLater does allow viewers to fast-forward through commercials. Most online streaming videos require viewers to watch the ads in real time.

According to MediaMall, a standard 22-minute sitcom will need about 500MB of storage. A one-hour show, which uses about 45 minutes of video, requires 1GB of storage. A typical movie uses about 2GB of storage. Users should have an Internet broadband connection of at least 1.5Mb/s for the service.

The PlayLater software requires Microsoft’s Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows Server 2003/Windows Home Server, as well as Internet Explorer 7 or later and Windows Media Player 9 or later. MediaMall recommends PCs with Pentium 4 3.2+ GHz processors or faster, 512MB of RAM (1GB recommended) and 100MB of available disk space for installation plus 4GB to 5GB extra space for recorded videos.