PS3 Attitude

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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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Saturday, 23 August 2008

PS3 Attitude's Comprehensive Leipzig Review, Part 1

Another year, another Leipzig. It's time to re-visit our on-site coverage by our guest writer Alexander Chalkidis with some new info from the Leipzig aftermath. Let's begin with part uno:

New 160 GB PS3 SKU
The new SKU comes as a bundle for North America this November for $499.99. The Uncharted: Drake's Fortune PS3 bundle includes:
  • 160GB PS3 system (same specs as the current 80GB model)
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune
  • PAIN PLAYSTATION Network voucher
  • DUALSHOCK 3 Wireless controller
Europeans will enjoy this SKU the 31st of October for €449. Exactly the same specs as the current 80GB offering but will include €70 of PLAYSTATION Network content (expected to vary by territory).

PlayTV launch Dated
As we reported earlier, 19th of September is the date you lucky Europeans can (finally) enjoy PlayTV. You may want to check out this recent unboxing for more info.




Little Big Planet
Launching on the 29th of October for Europe and in the mysterious date of "October 2008" for America. Join us in our longing for all things LBP here, here, here and of course here.



PS3 Wireless Keypad
Great potential that both first and third party developers will surely overlook (*cough* Touch pad mode*cough*). I hope someone notices. Key features include:
  • QWERTY keypad designed for fast, thumbs-only typing.
  • Touch pad mode turns the main key area into a touch pad. When touch pad button is pressed, user can not use the keys for character input but can slide her finger on this area to select something on the screen. On the internet browser, user can see a cursor when this mode is set on.
  • Dedicated short cut keys provide instant access to text-based communication applications on the PLAYSTATION®Network.
  • Automatic pairing with the PS3™ system via a USB cable.
  • Charges by connecting it directly to the PS3™ system using a USB cable.
  • Bluetooth® 2.0
  • Up to 33 feet (10 meters) operating range
  • USB 2.0 full speed (for battery charging and Bluetooth® pairing only)
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion polymer battery (Capacity – 610mAh)
  • Approx Weight: 60g

Free Streaming Music from VidZone
VidZone will deliver free streaming music videos to the PlayStation 3. A trial service is scheduled for launch in early 2009 for Europe, Australia and New Zealand (no yankee love). You will be able to stream VidZone’s music videos for free on your PS3 or your PSP via Remote Play. You can even make your own playlists from their vast library. Apparently all of VidZone's features (maybe even more) will be available for PS3 users. There will be a small fee if you want to download songs, music videos or ringtones to your mobile phone though.


Sources [us.playstation.com, uk.playstation.com, Engadget, Stuff.tv]

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Wednesday, 13 August 2008

PlayTV Release Date Confirmed


In another step to make the PS3 the all encompassing entertainment system, Sony has announced September 19th as the release date for the add-on.

For £69.99, European PS3 owners will be able to record TV while they game or watch shows. Also included is the ability to transfer recorded programs to your PSP and PC as well as view them via Remote Play, a nice addition. HD content will also be included at some point in the future, making the price seem all the more worth it. 

I can only hope that this manages to make its way over to the US as this would be a nifty addition to have. 

UPDATE: Well, it turns out that recorded programs will not be transferable. Content will only be streamed to the PSP through the remote play function. 

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Friday, 18 July 2008

PlayTV arrives on September 10th; confirmed

David Reeves, in an interview with Eurogamer, has confirmed that the UK launch of PlayTV will happen on September 10th.

The twin-tuner PVR solution will roll out in other territories across Europe between September and December. Australia and New Zealand are slated for a January/February 2009 launch when those countries have set their final DTT broadcast standards.

Reeves also confirmed that PlayTV will record whilst you play games, and that the 2.41 firmware included the code necessary to use PlayTV. If your PS3 is up-to-date, you theoretically have everything you need to use the TV add-on.

PlayTV will be priced at £79/€99.

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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

PlayStation Day 2008; PlayTV launches in September

David Reeves has confirmed an official launch window and price for PlayTV (finally).

Once again, this is a product we expected would be released soon with SCEE stating 'Spring' launch windows last year. In fact, we did hear PlayTV was priced and dated for a March release not so long ago, but that turned out to be false.

However, it is nice to finally get the definite word from SCEE, and that word is 'September'.

PlayTV will retail for €99, which is about £75.

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Tuesday, 26 February 2008

PlayTV gets better; no DRM and take-anywhere recordings

As if we're not already chomping at the bit for PlayTV in the UK, we then find out that the recordings it makes can be moved to the video section of the XMB.

These videos are in standard MPEG-2 format with no DRM or copy restrictions whatsoever, which means that you can plug in your favourite flavour of USB or memory card device and copy your recorded programmes for use on any device you like. You can re-encode them on a PC to support pretty much anything.

This is a progressive and welcome move by Sony. The company has been severely burnt in the past with DRM and copy-protection scandals, and in a world where everyone wants to get rid of DRM it's definitely the right move.

Sure, a minority of people will now use the PS3 as the go-between allowing them to put UK TV programmes up for download, but the majority of us will do exactly what this technology is intended for - record and watch the TV we like on any device at a time convenient to us.

Bravo, Sony.

Note: If you have a PSP, PlayTV supports your device with dual encoding and Remote Play features, so this MPEG-2 stuff is more for those of you who want to watch TV on your iPod, mobile phone or Video Walkman.

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Friday, 18 January 2008

PlayTV video demonstrates ease-of-use

Watching this video, you be forgiven for thinking that finally your grandmother will be able to record a TV programme! People have struggled with video recorder instructions for years, but there really couldn't be anything simpler than this.

Take a look for yourself.

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Monday, 14 January 2008

PlayTV is priced and dated


PlayTV, which turns your PS3 into a twin-tuner Freeview PVR, is expected to be priced at £99.99 and ship on the 28th March.


PlayTV allows you to record programmes from the Freeview network, which only requires an aerial and doesn't require a subscription, on to the PS3 HDD. Of coures, you can also watch live TV and record another show at the same time thanks to the twin-tuner capability as well as all that good 'pause and rewind' goodness that comes with such devices.


Through Remote Play you can also watch live TV or any recorded programme via your PSP, and PlayTV also promises to be able to transfer recorded programmes to a Memory Stick Duo so you can take you favourite programmes away with you to watch on the PSP later.


Although £99.99 does make it one of the most expensive Freeview set-top boxes on the market, it certainly has the most functionality. If you already own a PSP, this would save you the circa £150 you'd need to spend on a Slingbox (or equivelant) and a Memory Stick encoder box to get the same features, so it is actually pretty good value.


As with all Freeview systems, your aerial may need an upgrade and you should check if Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) is available in your area.

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Friday, 4 January 2008

In the Year of the Rat, will Sony win the race?



It will soon be the Year of the Rat.

In Chinese astrology the Rat is considered a leader and a pioneer. Rats can also be controlling, having their own way whatever the cost. Although Sony were 'born' in 1946 (which makes them a Dog - incidentally the same sign as my good self), you might say there are certain attributes of the Rat that sit well with them.

If you think it is odd to mix Chinese astrology with a Japanese company then bear with us. Although the Japanese celebrate the new year on the 1st January, they send postcards to their family and friends with the relevant animal depicted on the front - harking back to when the lunar calendar and the 12 animal signs were in use throughout Japan.

So what will this year bring, and will Sony win the ratrace against their most fierce of rivals? Just how will the Dog fair against the Rabbit (Microsoft) and the Ox (Nintendo).

Burnout Paradise is our first indication that 2008 is going to be a good one for the PS3. Yes - I know... since it is being released in January it doesn't fall into the Chinese 'lunar year' which starts in February. But since the Japanese start their year in January too, we're going to run with this one!

Then it's the turn of Devil May Cry 4 to hit our screens. There was a time when I was particularly angry with the Sheep (otherwise known as Capcom) for taking DMC to other platforms. But now we've seen it looking particularly spectacular on the PS3 we're not so unhappy. Add to that some exclusive downloadable content and the grass is certainly looking greener on this side of the fence. Maybe we'll hold off on turning Capcom into lamb chops for now.

Haze can't be ignored. Although it is yet another FPS, it is a special one. I don't honestly think that it is going to compare in any way to the Rabbit's best effort (the ever present Halo franchise) but it is truly a much deeper and more involving experience than many of the existing 'shooter' offerings available on the PS3. Call of Duty 4 excepted.

Shortly after you've managed to figure out how to squeeze those three titles into your heavy social calendar, the Tiger of Rockstar will rip your diary apart with the launch of GTA: IV. Once again it is a title that will appear on the Rabbit's platform, but we're not bitter about it. I couldn't care less if it were on every platform - just as long is it rocks our world as much as we think it will!

Around this time in the Year of the Rat, we expect that two amazing innovations will have found their way on to our favourite black monolith. PlayStation Home and LittleBigPlanet.

Home promises to be more than just a 3D lobby, although admittedly the ability to launch you and your newly-made friends into the multiplayer part of any game you own is a great feature. With huge amounts of content promised for launch and throughout the life of Home, plus the 'social networking' abilities available via the web-based portal to your Home space, Home will become many things; a replacement for the XMB, a lobby, a content viewer (both yours and content from Sony and third-parties), a casual games arena, a social networking site, a marketing tool to reach non-PS3 owners, a vanity case of game achievements, a mobile blogging/photo centre and much more.

LittleBigPlanet is surely one of the most anticipated titles of the year with it's innovative mix of gameplay, creation and sharing. If there's one title that is destined to take on the marketing behemoth that is Halo 3, this is it. 'What?', I hear you cry. How can you compare LBP and Halo 3? Think about it.

There's Halo 3 characters, faceplates, headsets, controllers and skins everywhere you look on your favourite retailer's shelves. You can get ringtones, wallpapers and themes for almost any mobile device. If there is one thing I want to see this year it's a Sackboy that I can actually buy, along with fabric pens so I can modify him, just like in the game. And a Sackboy controller. And a Sackboy gift set. Sony should be marketing the crap out of this game. I want to see Sackboy on the shelves of Clinton Cards alongside that ever-present blue-nosed teddy bear. You get the idea.

As the year progresses, we'll be hit with another massive title that is definitely staying on the PS3 only. Metal Gear Solid 4 will arrive. Every indication is that this final chapter in the story of Snake will be monumental in every way. The recent previews we've seen show the game to be something really special and the ending is promising to be as epic as you would expect. Once again you're going to have to figure out how to balance still playing GTA and LBP when this one hits. Who said gaming was easy!

Although Europe will see GT5 Prologue early in the year (February we reckon), there's a good chance the full Gran Turismo 5 experience will hit our shelves in the Year of the Rat. Promising a huge amount of detail, cars, tracks and content, along with realistic damage (hooray!), real-time weather simulation, GT-TV content, My Garage homepages/social networking and - most importantly - the Top Gear Test Track, GT5 will give us petrol-heads something to really get our teeth into once we've completed everything Burnout Paradise can offer.

Finally, we'll be sinking our teeth into the Hellghast scum once again as Killzone 2 comes to the PS3. Whether or not the screenshots you have seen are 'doctored' or not, it doesn't really matter. The fact is that this game is one hell of an FPS. Incredible graphics, amazing character animation, deep storyline, real atmosphere and pixel-perfect shooting mean that this one title may just blow your mind as well as your wallet. Another PS3 exclusive, I predict Killzone 2 will be the biggest selling of them all, which is a risky bet given the massive appeal of the games we've detailed above.

Honourable mentions go to the other games that will hit this year in retail and PS Store form; Tekken 6, SOCOM: Confrontation, Madden 09, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Everyday Shooter and Wipeout HD to name but a few. And we've ignored the possible release of those other exclusives - Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII - because we just don't believe they'll make it onto shelves this year.

And don't forget the additional hardware and PSP interactivity that is due. Soon you'll be able to buy PlayTV in Europe and add a twin-tuner Freeview PVR to the list of incredible things you can do with a PS3, and view live TV or your recorded programmes via Remote Play. There's so much more to come from the PS3 this year and much of it will be delivered, free of charge, via firmware updates and the PS Store.

Simply put, the Year of the Rat will be the best one yet for Sony. The Dog can learn new tricks, it seems.

Check out the gallery below for various screenshots and wallpapers...

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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

PS3 firmware 2.00 details from SCEE

Just received the official word from SCEE; PS3 firmware 2.00 is upon us.

I can't verify whether it has actually arrived on the PSN as yet (can you?), but the press release says that it is out now.

New features include:

  • Support for PSP remote start - switch the PS3 on with your PSP and go into a Remote Play session
  • Build playlists in the music and photo sections of the XMB
  • Customisation of the XMB - change colour and brightness of the icons (useful for when you have a bright wallpaper) and apply custom icon themes, very much like the PSP custom theme capability
  • Information Board - a new addition to the XMB providing you with the latest PlayStation news (well, it would do if it showed you the PS3 Attitude feed of course!)
  • New PlayStation Network category on the XMB, with the much discussed new logo taking centre stage
  • Trend Micro Web Security - a free security application for your PS3 web browser, providing parental controls amongst other things (free until end of April 2008, when pay options will be made available to keep it up to date)
All in all, a pretty good update. Of course, many will start shouting "what - 2.00 without custom soundtracks and no in-game XMB?", but the fact is that we're sure these things will be coming in a future update.

SCEA, for example, recently asked the following question in a survey of their Gamer Advisory Panel members:

Choose which XMB feature would be most important to you in a possible
PLAYSTATION Network update:

A) In-game access to PSN messaging
B) Ability to play my own music from the XMB while in-game
C) Larger buddy list and buddy-list features such as categorizing

This is a clear indication of what they're thinking of adding to 2.x.

Some games, of course, already support access to the XMB and PSN messaging (Resistance, for example) so surely this is just a case of the developers making use of the feature set that ships with the current development kit?

Whatever way I look at this, it's still positive news. The XMB customisation is welcome (and reasonably fun on the PSP) but the ability to switch on the PS3 remotely is a must, especially with PlayTV coming early 2008. And how on earth did we get along without music playlists?!

Thanks Sony!

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Friday, 24 August 2007

Leipzig GC 07: how clear was our crystal ball?

We've been a bit quite around PS3 Attitude whilst we gather all the nuggets of information from Leipzig and get the lined up. Liveblogging and updating the site around E3 taught us a few lessons about time management...

So, how good were the predictions and what does the future look like for the PS3, especially in the UK and Europe?

Predictions 1 & 2 - "Europe will get a video on demand service for the PS3 and PSP" and "The PS3 will gain Freeview in the UK."

Sony announced PlayTV for the PS3, a twin-tuner Freeview (Digital Terrestrial Television) receiver and software bundle that allows you to turn your PS3 into a full-blown PVR, recording and playing back TV programs. PlayTV allows you to record one program whilst watching something else, and you can control it via Remote Play on your PSP too.

In addition, we heard the official announcement regarding Sky's joint venture with Sony which will bring on-demand programs and video to the PSP platform.

PlayTV launches in the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain, and France in 2008. Whether the Sky venture makes it's way to the PS3 is debatable - I can't see why Sky would allow their content on a PS3 that supports Freeview or vice versa.


Prediction Score - 10/10

Prediction 3 - "A 120Gb PS3 model for Europe instead of the 80Gb model they launched in the US."

Sony's David Reeves has said, whilst at Leipzig, that this is possible.

"The difference between 60 and 80GB is very small, we just feel that going up 20GB is not worth it," Reeves told Norwegian website Dagbladet. However, "If you go to double it, it's worth it", he added. "So maybe you'll see something a little bit later."

So whilst they didn't announce it at GC 07, there's a good chance this prediction will come true in the near future.


Prediction Score - 6/10

Prediction 4 - "Sony will announce at least six new exclusives."

David Reeves went on record saying that Sony were not going to launch any further titles at GC 07 because consumers are already anticipating a heavy few months and they can't necessarily afford any more titles right now.

And yet with the PS Eye they announced three new titles exclusive titles that are supported by the device! Operation Creature Feature, Trials of Topoq and Aqua Vita are all coming along soon.

However, they didn't announce the titles we expected and seem to be leaving them until the Tokyo Game Show...


Prediction Score - 2/10

Predictions 5 & 6 - "The PSP will get access to the Playstation Store/PS3 Friends/PS3 Chat" and "The PSP and/or PS3 will get a Skype client"

Whilst Go! Messenger is only for the PSP and it isn't by Skype, the PSP is getting a chat and messenger system that will make use of the Go! Play camera and a headset. In conjunction with BT, the PSP will become a viable VoIP solution.

I still believe the PSP will access the PS3 Friends system at some point, but it is sensible to make this interface with PlayStation Home for that functionality in the same way Phil Harrison showed use via mobile phone.


Prediction Score - 5/10

Prediction 7 - "Sony will launch a 'LinkedIn' or 'Facebook' style system"

They didn't announce anything like this. This will probably be serviced by the PC web-based interface to PlayStation Home that they announced at E3.


Prediction Score - 1/10

Prediction 8 - "SCEE will announce the SixShock controller. Or RumbleAxis. Or whatever you want to call it"

Also didn't happen. In an interview with GameSpot, David Reeves said that any rumours about this coming along are just that - there are no announcements regarding rumble now or expected any time soon.


Prediction Score - 0/10

Prediction 9 - "Sony will launch a PC client to access and chat with your Friends"

GC 07 was not about Home at all. Sony's strategy, it seems, is to split up announcements between E3, GC and TGS. This means that since all the Home announcements were at E3, we need to wait for any extra details - especially since they're still in beta right now.

However, we know from E3 that a PC web-based service will allow access to Home, and so therefore will allow access to your Friends via PC.


Prediction Score - 4/10

Prediction 10 - "Sony will allow you to live videoblog using a PSP with a GoCam! direct to your PS3 hard drive and consequently to your Playstation Home space"

Again, because of no Home news at GC 07, we're not sure. But since Go! Messenger was launched, it's not such a leap of faith to make it connect to the Internet like Go! Cam and send your stuff up to the PS3. Certainly, Go! Messenger has connectivity to other devices such as PCs build in, so I'm calling this one a fairly accurate prediction!


Prediction Score - 6/10

Not a bad score overall - check back for more GC 07 roundup news soon.

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