TSA Fixes: PlayTV

I like PlayTV, it’s a great combination of hardware and software that, at least where it’s available, offers a nice upscaled Freeview option for those of us without Sky and Virgin.  If you’re not familiar with PlayTV, there’s a little black box with a USB lead that goes into your PS3 and an aerial port on the back which you feed your normal RF TV cable into.  There’s also a disk, but I’d suspect the actual software is part of the PS3’s firmware now anyway, so it seems superfluous apart from the introductory video.  Once installed, PlayTV appears on your XMB next to the BBC iPlayer link and allows you want TV through your PS3.  It’s good, but could be better, and here’s how:

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1. Faster Startup. Yes, they gave you the option to jump straight to live TV a couple of updates back, but loading PlayTV still seems to take ages, and I don’t really know why.  The system updates are only about 30MB and I can’t imagine the main program being much more than that anyway and if you just want to switch on PlayTV to find out what’s on of an evening the wait is rather too much, which brings me on to:

2. Integration with the XMB. Why can’t we have a little square box on the XMB (an option, obviously) that tells us what’s on now and next?  Get rid of the bloody news feed and let X-Factor and Strictly scroll past with the times they’re on so I now when I’m meant to be watching TV and not using the PS3’s web browser or about to start a game.  I can’t see this being a major obstacle but given that most of the PS3’s firmware development is done in Japan (where they don’t have PlayTV) the chances of this are slim.

3. Series Record. Seriously, a feature common to all but the cheapest of cheap Freeview boxes, I want to be able to select the first episode of the next Ashes to Ashes and then completely relax about PlayTV picking up the rest and combining them into one lovely list of great television on the Library submenu.  Sure, I’m not particularly bothered about catching every episode of Hollyoaks but the option would be nice.  But then, we don’t even have:

4. Reminders. There’s no option in PlayTV to let us set a reminder for something in the future.  This isn’t a ‘you can’t set a reminder for a week away’ – you can’t even flag something to pop-up an hour or so in advance, you can only set things to record.  Sure, this does bring up an XMB prompt but when the file sizes are so big (why can’t we record at a lower bitrate, anyway?) the last thing you want is loads of 5 minute bits of programmes you only set up just so you didn’t forget they were on.

5. HD. It’s not going to happen here in the UK, but it’s especially annoying that Australian PlayTV users can now watch TV in HD.  Bring out a new box, Sony, I’ll pay for it again.

6. Better menus. I don’t like the daft rotating menus, especially when they change to a normal vertical menu when you go down a level anyway.  Yes, they’re flashy but the carousel format is confusing for non-gamers (UI law number one: show all top level menu options at once) and the requirement to click into things just to change an option (such as deleting a pre-recording show) is daft.  We have triangle buttons on the PlayTV remote, let us use that to bring up submenus like everything else on the XMB does.

7. Watch TV whilst downloading. And finally, why does this happen?  I’m downloading whatever treats have appeared on the F5 Thursday update and Mrs. Nofi wants to watch Eggheads – fine, I quite like Eggheads but when it’s on all downloads stop and won’t continue until you quit PlayTV.  This has resulted in most demos being downloaded on the 360 if there’s the option to just so we can use the internet and watch TV at the same time.  Perhaps this is why Eggheads isn’t on on a Thursday – the BBC and Sony have got together just to save the engineers working on PlayTV’s bizarre lack of co-operation with the download manager.

What would you change about PlayTV?

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