Sony's long-awaited PlayTV PVR bolt-on for the PS3 promises to finally turn the console into a genuine multimedia hub. But is the Freeview recording peripheral really going to change the way people use the PS3?
When the Play TV gizmo arrived in HCC Towers we jumped on it to find out for ourselves. It transpires that the PlayTV is a sizeable, rather ugly twin tuner-equipped adapter. It's designed to let you watch and record Freeview channels using your console.
Sporting an aerial input and a single red LED, it connects to the console via a mini USB lead. It can be reasonably well controlled using the PS3 Sixaxis controller but if you have the PS3 Blu Ray remote you can use that with the button overlay provided.
An installation disc is included and the rotating main menu is a slick sight to behold as is the 7 day EPG (both are presented in HD) which displays a grid of channels alongside programme information. This can be used to schedule recordings of both TV and radio channels as as can the manual timer.
Recordings are accessed in the library menu and viewable as a list or as preview thumbnails. You can watch one channel while recording another or playback a recording while recording another. You can also pause live TV, in both cases fast forwarding and rewinding at up to 20x normal speed.
The recorded image is automatically upscaled (up to 1080i) depending on the resolution you've set your PS3 to and we had no complaints viewing all but the most poorly compressed channels. Sadly the unit lacks Series Linking, but at least its possible to play a PS3 game or Blu Ray disc while still recording TV with no discernable performance dips.
You can stream live TV and recordings via wi-fi to your PSP using Remote Play with OK results. Permanent transfer, however, requires taking them off the hard disk then converting them to the right format with third party software.
Ultimately. the Play TV can be considered an interesting gadget, but in truth the PS3 makes only a mediocre Freeview PVR.