Sony PlayTV - First look review

Attempting to turn the PS3 into more than just a games console, Sony hopes its latest add-on for the console will bring in the TV crowd. But should you grab the popcorn? We got a brief hands-on with PlayTV at Sony's PlayStation Day in London to find out.

The size of two decks of playing cards the small box plugs into your PS3 and your television aerial and gives you PVR functionality all at the touch of a remote.

While you can use your standard Dual Shock/SIXAXIS controller, Sony does bundle in a more TV friendly remote, although in use it still takes a little bit of getting used to, especially if you are used to the Sky+ remote.

The interface is broken down into a number of different areas and these are accessed via a carousel interface rather than the almost defacto Xross Media Bar from Sony.

These areas consist of direct access to your TV channels via PlayTV, a 7-day EPG so you can see what is coming, a Library so you can see what you've recorded, a scheduling page so you can monitor what you've got set to be recorded, and the usual array of settings.

When it comes to recording programs, or pausing live TV, the PlayTV device sports two tuners however annoyingly you can't record two programs at once.

Likewise you won't be able to Series Link your favourite programs either as you can with Freeview 2 boxes. In an attempt to get around this you will be able to set repeat recordings for the same time each week.

While Sony's press release for the PlayTV states:

"PlayTV’s two TV tuners are High Definition ready and are able to view, record and play back High Definition signals in full HD1080P to fully complement PS3’s already impressive High Definition credentials."

In the UK don't expect to get HD content. Currently not available on Freeview until 2009 at the earliest it means you won't be able to view the BBC HD channel, add to the fact that currently Channel 4 HD is a Sky exclusive, and ITV is likely to be a Freesat exclusive, even when the HD does come, content is looking thin on the ground.

The system was easy to use with the switching between channels easy and straightforward. The interface is clean and crisp and as good as Sky's offering in its usability if not its feature set.

Verdict

The trouble with the Sony PlayTV option is that while it turns your PS3 into a PVR there a number of limitations. Not supporting Series Link or the ability to record two channels at once are just a couple.

Then there is the lack of HD support for a device that is so HD focused, making this a PVR for those who really must use their PS3 rather than the need for a cutting edge product to match their cutting edge games console.

Our play might have only been brief, but on the surface so far, it's not looking positive compared to the set top box competition.