Sony brought together a few media types this week to mark the (just over) first birthday of its PlayStation 3 and tease us with a few new strings the not-just-for-games console is about to add to its bow.
PlayTV and BD-Live
Most interesting from the hardware side of things is the upcoming launch of PlayTV, which dips Sony's toe into the PVR market. Outside of Foxtel subscribers with an IQ box, personal digital recorders have not gained the same popularity in Australia as they have in other parts of the world.
That is expected to change in late 2008 with the launch of Freeview. Not wanting to be left out of the party, PlayTV is designed to let you watch, pause and record free-to-air TV through a connection on your PS3. Sporting dual HD tuners, the box also integrates with PlayStation Portable handhelds, so you can set recordings and watch live or recorded TV programs using a wireless connection and the Remote Play feature on a PSP., and
You should be able to move recorded shows to an external hard drive once the 40GB memory is full on your PS3, however there will be DRM copyright restrictions in place.
PlayTV is scheduled to launch in Q3 in time for Christmas, but details have yet to be finalised on its EPG, and as one of the plans is to use the electronic program guide implemented for Freeview, that availability may be subject to change.
Sony also showed off a demonstration of BD-Live, made possible through PS3 system software update 2.2. With an Internet-enabled PS3, BD-Live supported Blu-ray discs let you access a range of "live" — as in constantly updated — selection of ringtones, wallpapers and up-to-the-minute movie trailers.
Depending on the inclination of the director and studio, user-generated scene commentary is also an option. PlayStation 3 is one of the first Blu-ray players on the market with BD-Live functionality, but currently there are only two BD-Live discs on the market, Liongate's 3:10 to Yuma and Saw IV.
The continuing rise of social gaming — SingStar, Buzz and LittleBIG Planet
While not about to abandon its core gaming customers, Sony is increasingly focused on attracting "social" gamers to titles like Singstar and Buzz with additional online features.
The company plans to add to the 200 downloadable songs in English it currently offers through SingStore. Since SingStar for PS3 launched in December 2007, Australians have downloaded 55,000 songs, the most popular being Men At Work's Down Under. (What Aussie party is complete without it?) Community features through My SingStar Online, which lets you build a karaoke profile and upload video clips to be rated by other members a-la YouTube.
Buzz for PS3, due to launch in July 2008, will not only let users pit their trivia skills against other players online, but Buzz online members will also be able to submit and tackle user-generated questions.
And finally, taking user-generated content one step further, a much anticipated upcoming title called LittleBIG Planet is being developed to allow user-generated game creation. Under development for several years, it is expected to launch in the second half of 2008.