Sony PlayTV (PS3) review: Sony PlayTV (PS3)

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Cheap. Decent quality recordings. EPG support. Rounds out PS3 feature set nicely.

The Bad Glitchy operation. No remote recording or "series link". Gameplay can affect recordings. No remote. Can only record one channel at once.

The Bottom Line The Sony PlayTV is a good "freebie" for buyers of the new 250GB PS3 and it can be useful if you don't already have a PVR, but it's fairly limited in performance and scope.

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Design

If you're looking for a comprehensive design analysis then you've picked the wrong gadget: it's a black plastic box. It's about the size of a pack of cards, slightly curved we suppose but still pretty ugly. On the top of the box lives the PlayStation logo and a power LED. On what we'll call "the front" is a mini USB port and a single antenna port — unfortunately there's no passthrough so you'll need to either make the PlayTV the last part of your antenna chain, or invest in a coaxial splitter (about AU$8). There's no remote in the box so you can either use the Sixaxis controller — a bit clunky for normal television watching — or invest in a Blu-ray remote.

The PlayTV is wall/desk mountable, but seeing as how the unit needs to plug into the front of the PlayStation via USB anyway it lacks the discretion of other AV components.

Features

The PlayTV is a dual-tuner PVR addition to the PlayStation 3. With dual tuners you can record one show while watching another or while playing a game or a Blu-ray. While the system warns you of gameplay issues if background recording is turned on we experienced very few. You can't record two channels at once, though.

The PlayTV is Freeview compatible and features a seven-day program guide. The device lacks any sort of "Series Link" recording, though PlayTV's developers promise it's in the works.

PlayTV content can also be viewed over Remote Play, which means it can be viewed with a PSP or the new Sony Ericsson Aino phone.

NB: even if you have one of the new 120GB PS3 Slims we'd suggest upgrading your hard drive to 500GB or higher, otherwise it'll get full of HD programming real quick. Don't even think about adding a PlayTV to a 40GB model without upgrading. An hour of HD material will take up 10 gigs of space, and if you only have a 40GB PS3 you'll get less than three hours on average of material. Plus there is no way to change quality settings to squeeze more space out of your drive. You may also want to back up your trophies as well, and to do this go to Game > Trophy Collection. Press "Green Triangle" > Sync with server.

Performance

Set-up of the device is fairly straightforward — we simply plugged it in, put in the disc and the wizard walked us through it. If you can get digital reception in your area then the PlayTV will work fine. The device comes with a seven-day EPG but like other devices it takes a bit of coaxing to get it to update all the channels — ie, you'll need to go to each of the main channels in turn to update the first grid.

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Where to Buy

Sony PlayTV (PS3)

Part Number: CNETSony PlayTV (PS3)

Typical Price: $169.95

See manufacturer website for availability.