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PS3 Attitude

Monday, 6 October 2008

PlayTV: A Review

Yesterday I had the fortune of having some spare cash to throw at a frivolous purchase and decided that PlayTV would be a good option. I have not read any reviews about this peripheral so I am going in somewhat blind.

Don't get me wrong, I know what it does and what it is all about but I have no idea of the details. So here I'm going to give a frank opinion about this add-on.

First things first: the size. At a diminutive 18x14x7 cm this is an itsy bitsy teeny weeny... black box. Yes it is has to be said that this is far from the stylishly presented slick box of tricks that PlayTV connects to through the standard USB cable. At the same time it is small enough to hide behind the TV or even stash down the back of the TV stand.

There are 2 simple connections, one for the aerial and one for the aforementioned USB connection. Happily these are both on the same side so there are no problems with it having to be in a particular orientation.

One of my major concerns was that of the ongoing cable war behind my TV. Thankfully this is not proving to be a problem because of the dimensions.

So plug in the cables, pop in the disc and away you go. The intro plays for you whilst the installation takes place and once done you restart the system to be greeted with a new icon on your XMB. This is the TV icon and contains PlayTV's access button.

Click on it and after a short channel scan you are greeted with the main menu of PlayTV. This contains various sections including Settings, Live TV, Library etc. Hit the Live TV icon and it transitions smoothly to the first channel.

Changing channel is also nicely done with a fade to black when you press the L1/R1 buttons. The buttons are well mapped to the Sixaxis, though I think that an investment in the official remote might be in the near future. Thankfully, there is a facia that can be attached to the remote which looks surprisingly un-tacky.

The record feature is great, with the EPG continuing on the slick looks found on the main menu. Recording is easily done with a click of the X button. It is possible to search the coming week for keywords from the Search sub menu - a feature that actually work quite well. I searched for 'horror' and was delighted to find a good ten or so programs that fitted the search criteria with none standing out of place.

Recording can be done whether the PS3 is on or in standby and will warn you if you try to switch the console off whilst PlayTV is recording, instead letting you know that it will switch itself off once the recording is done and dusted.

The picture quality is as good as any freeview box I have seen, though it falls somewhat short of cable and sky. The picture is automatically in the native aspect ratio but can be overridden within the options menu.

Sound quality is good with the exception of the volume. In my few days with the unit I have found that the TV simply isn't loud enough. I know, I know; "turn it up, then" I hear you shout. But this is far from ideal when you fire up COD4 afterwards only to have the TV screaming at you. This may simply be unique to me though I doubt it.

Overall I have to say that I am impressed with the package. The minor flaws I have come across are niggling but can be fixed with a firmware update. Considering I can now save a sizeable chunk of money on my outgoings by cancelling a TV package I have to say that I am impressed.

Perhaps that is the most important point. I will choose this add-on to the PS3 over my current subscription. Despite the downfalls it is more important to me to have one box under my TV as opposed to two or three. Especially when that box is the multifunctional black beauty that is Playstation 3.

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