Play TV is out later this month, but we’ve got early impressions of the device for anyone keen to know more about the finer points of Sony’s innovative Freeview recording box and software combo. Firstly, the install is tiny, just 140MB, and once installed a new column appears on the XMB towards the right, dubbed “TV” and then it has another new icon, “PlayTV” just below that. Start-up seems to take about 30 seconds. And before we forget, the thing is fully compatible with Remote Play – everything you can do on the PS3 can be funnelled through to your PSP – brilliant stuff.
Once loaded, everything is supremely slick and sophisticated: the menus are wonderful, channels switch incredibly quickly with a cool fade and everything blurs in and out like the finest Sony kit does. Even the initial channel scan setup is intuitive and comparably fast. The video formats are the usual 4:3 and 16:9 (called “Wide”) but there’s also the normal in-between 14:9, Zoom and Auto modes for those of you that like to stretch stuff that shouldn’t be stretched, bless you. Upscaling is reasonable, certainly better than most TV’s own scaling software and nice to have.
Recordings can be made whilst watching Blu-Ray disks and DVDs, and videos are stored as MPEG2 encoded files, which can be moved to the XMB, at least in the preview version. The file on the XMB seems to retain all the textual information from the PlayTV TV Guide, which is a nice touch. If you want to stop recording whilst in a game or watching a film, simply bring up the XMB with the PS button, move along to TV and tap the triangle button to bring up the menu. That is, you don’t need to quit the movie or game to load up PlayTV.
Whilst the unit doesn’t affect your gaming in any way, the reverse isn’t true, although again this could be due to the early version. Basically, any game that hits the hard drive a lot will cause the encoded video to stutter on playback, so if you want a perfect recording, just don’t play a game at the same time – this is fair enough really and could also depend on your HD speed. The good news is that the PlayStation 3 will switch itself on to record your television programs, it even loads the full XMB. It’ll also switch itself back off again after the program finishes.
Our thanks to TTP for the impressions.