Sony PlayTV for PlayStation 3 Review

Notice how the Sky+ DVR box looks like an Xbox360? It’s no coincidence. The lizard people that rule Sky are the same faction that runs Microsoft. A rival faction of Lizard people however have decided to go one better, and make a truly 21st century television viewing and management application that takes full advantage of hardware accelerated 3D texture mapped alpha blended HD USB SATA hard disk GigaByte magic.

Yes, PlayTV makes the experience of consuming television so deliciously lickable that we’ve even started watching ITV1 again.

What shows off the class of the product is the extra touches – the PlayTV install disk comes in a regular PS3 game box (inside the PlayTV cardboard packaging) and a stick-on overlay for the official Blu-Ray remote is included which shows how the extra PlayTV functions are mapped on that device. I’m particularly fond of the skip forward 1 minute key, that makes watching adverts a thing of the past. That includes the adverts cunningly disguised as trailers shown on the BBC.

Unlike other DVR solutions, most of the heavy lifting here is done in software on the PS3, and of course no extra hard drive is included, so some might look at the price and think it’s a little steep when the hardware is effectively the same as those Digital TV USB dongles sold by EyeTV, Hauppage et al. Considering the discounts on the £69.99 RRP that are offered by most online retailers however, it’s not so big a difference, and to be honest, and as weird as it feels to be saying this, the quality of the product is so high we didn’t regret for a minute purchasing one of these. And purchasing a 320GB hard drive to go with it.

The only bug at launch is something affecting most Freeview DVRs – to fully load the EPG, you need to switch through the certain master channels that contain each part of the guide. Before the patch, PlayTV wasn’t caching the TV guide across sessions so to browse every channel’s guide you had to channel hop through them all each time you restarted the app. This has been fixed in the 1.01 software released last week.

This patch is a good sign that future patches might contain additional functionality – we’re hoping for Freeview+ (formerly Freeview Playback) support that will offer season pass recording and support last minute schedule changes.

My PS3 is now a one stop shop for music, video, DVD/BD, internet, gaming and television. There’s one feature left I need to make it complete – media RSS feeds i.e. podcasts and vidcasts, like the PSP bizarrely got first.