What Sony's PlayTV is, and isn't

sony playtvFor those of you in Europe, congrats.

For those of you in the United States, condolences.

As expected, Sony — well, actually Sony Computer Entertainment Europe — announced that it’s turning the Playstation 3 into a super duper home entertainment device in early 2008. With the addition of PlayTV, the Playstation 3 will become a personal video recorder (PVR) with dual high-definition tuners, allowing users to view, record, and play free over-the-air TV channels through the Playstation 3 console.

This PRV capability, however, will be available only in the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, and Spain, with other PAL locations to follow later in 2008. It’s the first time that a game console has been given PVR capabilities (BBC News).

PlayTV is what we’ve been dreaming about ever since Sony, Microsoft, and, to a lesser extent, Nintendo promised that their game consoles would become the entertainment hub of our digital lives. Sony partly delivers.

What PlayTV Is

PlayTV will feature two high-definition TV tuners, allowing users to view one show and record another. It also supports standard definition television.

PlayTV can view, and play back high-definition signals in full 1080p.

Recorded programs can be streamed over a wireless Internet connection to the Playstation Portable (PSP) or transferred permanently to the handheld device via a USB cable for mobile viewing.

PlayTV also will feature “lightning fast” programming, possibly a step up from slow-to-respond electronic programming guides found in conventional cable or satellite services. Sony also notes that there will be single button help features, tutorial videos, and simple navigation to eliminate some of the complexity found on PVRs.

PlayTV also is upgradable via the Playstation Network.

What PlayTV Isn’t

From what is known at this time, PlayTV only receives over-the-air (OTA) signals, not cable stations.

There’s no Cable Card or Cable Card HD support.

There’s no satellite support.

While content can be downloaded onto a PSP, it does not appear that it can be offloaded to a USB hard drive or burned to DVD using Blu-Ray.

Oh. And it’s not available in the States.

harrison kotakuSony’s Phil Harrison told gaming blog Kotaku that PlayTV isn’t coming to the United States anytime soon because it does not have terrestrial digital television. Some cities such as San Diego have digital TV but other locations do not, making it not worth the effort for Sony to introduce PlayTV in the U.S. at this time. Harrison says when that changes, Sony will step up with PlayTV in the States.

That’s fine and dandy, but PlayTV may never make it to the U.S. because of the deep paranoia in TV Land and Hollywood, which are always concerned about piracy. PVRs/DVRs in the States already have dual high-definition tuners and recording capabilities, of course, but so far getting recorded digital content off the device — either backed up to a separate hard drive or burned to a DVD — is nearly impossible.

So to those in Europe, enjoy PlayTV.

And for those in the States, dream away.

Photo Credit: Sony’s Phil Harrison courtesy of Kotaku.

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.

13 Responses to “What Sony's PlayTV is, and isn't”

  1. JP says:

    “…but so far getting recorded digital content off the device — either backed up to a separate hard drive or burned to a DVD — is nearly impossible.”

    It’s nearly impossible with set-top boxes, but not so if you run an HTPC. A MacBook or Mac Mini with EyeTV software and dual tuners – one QAM cable, one OTA – can allow you to record as much as you can fit on your hard drive(s). Then you can burn to DVD or convert to your iPhone to your heart’s content.

  2. David Mackey says:

    Still, it is good to see continued movement towards this ends. I am tired of having so many separated devices.

  3. Reggie says:

    so does this mean that it will be available in the states where digital is avalible now so i can import it? does It also means we will get it some time in 2009 after the switch over to digital nation wide

  4. jamie says:

    i live in the uk and just wanted to say play TV not having a slot for a cable card is fine as cable is rubbish in the uk and most people have satellite as may areas can not get cable and satellite has a larger selection of channels. and Reggie you will not be able to import play TV as US and european digital broadcasts are encoded differently so the it would be unable to decoded the channels.

  5. ed says:

    i think what reggie was asking is if he lives in a digital terrestrial broadcast area in the U.S. is play TV available…short answer is no…play TV is not in the states as it wouldn’t be cost efficient for the company to fork out the dough to get all the hardware and capabilities there for only a few areas being able to use it…so until the majority of the U.S. gets on board with digital terrestrial broadcasts it looks as though play TV will not be an option there

  6. psp games says:

    Great service for psp and ps3 at the time…

    And now they can use Goview in Europe…

  7. pshomenet says:

    Hey, I live in San Diego. I should be able to do this. Hey America, fix your tvs so we can have this!!

  8. What?! I’m so, so jealous right now!

    **Wonders if it can be found through a European eBay powerseller**

  9. Paul says:

    can you import PlayTV to the US and use an ATSC tuner instead of the one that comes with the software? I would think the the tuner is what is not compatible for the US market and not the software.

  10. Paul says:

    just for clarification the US has switched to digital broadcast throughout the entire country over the past 2 to 4 years and the conversion will be complete in February. The NTSC format is dead and the new digital standard is ATSC, so the argument that the US doesn’t have digital terrestrial broadcast is crap!! Just for future reference

  11. Derek says:

    “can you import PlayTV to the US and use an ATSC tuner instead of the one that comes with the software? I would think the the tuner is what is not compatible for the US market and not the software.”

    So can anyone anwser Paul’s question? Has anyone tried it? Cause this sounds doable even though there is a limited amount of Over the Air Digital stations avaibale, especially where I live.

  12. Steve O'Hear says:

    @ Paul @ Derek

    I doubt it. The PlayTV hardware is tied to the software, it’s not a case of just plugging in a different tuner.

  13. Derek says:

    I don’t know much about it but I wonder what kind of signal leaves a tuner box. I’d think it is universal because TV’s are universal even ones without internal tuners.

    I’m too cheap to try it anyway.

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