Sony PS3 may include DVR capabilities

Sony finally has my attention.

sony ps 3As a casual gamer, I’ve not been all that interested in the Sony PlayStation 3 despite my gadget thirst. I have a PS2 and use it occasionally. I own a few Nintendos, and use those every now and then. I’m not hardcore enough to buy into Microsoft’s Xbox 360, even as an entertainment or media center, and I can’t find a Wii in stock.

But when I saw that Sony might include “DVR capabilities” in the PS3 — boing! — that caught my attention big time. Finally, at least potentially, there is an entertainment console that fits in my living room: as a gaming console, as a device to browse the Internet on a large-screen TV, as a next-generation player for Blu-Ray DVDs, and as a DVR so my wife can record the shows she likes, when she wants to watch them.

My head swims with possibility. I got rid of TiVo a while ago, and I’m sorry I did: I hate the DVRs provided by cable, satellite, and fiber optic companies (I now use Verizon’s FIOS). For a while I’ve been looking for the perfect home entertainment center without having to build one myself.

With the PS3, could I record “House” on the console’s hard drive (while watching another show) and then later burn it to Blu-ray or offload it to backup storage for safekeeping? I wouldn’t even have to buy the show’s DVD box set at the end of the season, unless I just want the extra commentary and content.

Warwick Light, Sony Computer Entertainment New Zealand’s head of marketing, said in The Press, a leading NZ newspaper:

“We’re also hoping next year — about the same time that Freeview launches its terrestrial broadcasting service — to release a digital tuner for the PS3, turning it into a programmable TV recorder.”

Freeview is a free over-the-air digital terrestrial service, popular in the U.K. It allows owners of a set-top box connected to their TV or a Freeview-enabled television to access a variety of channels and digital radio stations for no monthly fee.

Light said Sony can transform the PS3 capabilities “so as to meet people’s changing entertainment needs.” Sony may have designed the Ps3 as a “true next-generation” machine, but for us casual gamers, we just don’t see it. We’re not interested in a gaming console first, and oh by the way it can do this, this, and this.

blue screen of deathWe want an entertainment center that’s easy to hook up, access, understand, and program, so we can watch and record digital TV and movies. We want to be able to do something with the content — burn it to Blu-ray, store it on an external hard drive. We want to surf the Internet for programming and content, which includes legal, I’ve-paid-for-this downloads. We want to communicate (wirelessly) with other computers on our networks and share content throughout the home.

We want a true digital entertainment hub that isn’t a computer, per se, one that we have to install an operating system, a media center program, and then hack it to do what we really want. We don’t want the “blue screen of death” on our televisions.

It’s far too early to say if the PS3 will do all of this. And even if it did, Sony still has work ahead telling people — the casual game and home entertainment enthusiast — how much the PS3 has to offer. As Light said:

“Most people are aware that it plays games. Others know about it being a Blu-ray player, but we have a real job ahead to educate consumers about things like being able to surf the Net on a big screen TV. A lot of people think that the PS3 is just a games machine. It’s not a games machine. Well, it is, but it isn’t. It’s a future-proofed super computer.”

That can also record the TV shows and movies I want and let me do with them what I will.

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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