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PlayTV Impressions September 22, 2008

Posted by Matthew in Feature, PS3.
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I was interested in this since I got rid of my VCR and had no way of recording anything. My TV already has a built-in DVR tuner but I’ve been tempted to buy a separate one with recording capabilities. Luckily the PlayTV PS3 add-on came along. RRP is £69.99 but I bought it for a tenner (and one pence) less from Amazon.co.uk. Click the jump for my impressions along with some poorly taken photos.

Inside the box you will find the PlayTV unit, along with a USB to mini-USB cable and the disc with the software to install which comes in an ordinary PS3 game case. It is important to note that no RF cable is supplied but you will no doubt have one of these already. Like me, you will probably be surprised at how small it actually is. Ever so slightly smaller than a Dual Shock 3.

Setting up the unit is very simple. The box plugs into the PS3 via the supplied USB cable, and this also double as it’s power supply. The RF cable from your antenna plugs into the front of the unit. You then install the software on the disc supplied and, after watching the awful “lifestyle” introduction video then scanning for available channels, you are ready to go. A PlayTV icon is added to the XMB and is launched from there.

Depending on how good the digital TV reception in your area is then you should get all available Freeview channels. Occasionally I lose the signal on some channels including five, Sky Sports News, E4+1 and Dave. This doesn’t happen when viewing using PlayTV which is a massive plus. Another advantage it has over the Freeview in my TV is that the response times of the programme guide is much faster with no lag at all and digital teletext is pretty much instantaneous.

Recording programmes is simply a matter of pressing the select button to start and stop the recording. You can also set programmes to record using the TV guide. Live TV can be paused and rewound (is that a word) but this has to be activated in the options. Unfortunately there is no series link feature but you can set it to record at the same time every day/week – hopefully series link will be added with a future firmware update. Also, you don’t have to keep the PS3 switched on all the time, it will automatically switch on at the time of the recording and switch back off when it is finished – pretty handy and power saving. I’ve recorded a few things so far and a half-hour recording weighs in at around 600MB. Recording while playing a PS3 game/watching a Blu-Ray is possible, I haven’t tried this yet but it does warn you that the recording quality may be affected.

Navigation using the Sixaxis/Dual Shock 3 couldn’t be any easier. The trigger buttons fast-forward and rewind faster the more you hold them in. R1& L1 changes the channel up or down. Square brings up the programme guide and X, O, L3 or the d-pad the programme information. R3 brings up an on screen remote control to activate digital text or to quickly change channel. The official Blu-Ray remote control is also compatible and – rather handily – a sticker is provided for the remote to make all the functions easily accessible.

Remote Play using the PSP is also possible allowing you to stream TV via wireless but as I don’t have a PSP I can’t comment on that. If you own a PS3 but don’t already have a DVR recorder then I would recommend this as a good alternative to a stand-alone device, although if you plan on doing a lot of recording it would probably be best to upgrade to a larger hard drive – I recently installed a 320GB one. More on that later.

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