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Convergence

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by , 22nd December 2008 at 09:47 AM (1791 Views)
Today I find myself wanting to blog again, and once again it'd the good ol' PS3 that's caught my attention. I have finally achieved the coveted prize of 'convergence'. Though it's by no means perfect the future is here.

For the past however meny years I've been paying the local cable company an extortionate amount of money for their 'V+' box. Digital TV, Video Recorder and OnDemand service all in one. The problems being their high price and small quick to fill hard drive. Also, I find I only watch the Freeview channels (even though I pay for more) and even then not that often.

So It's time for a change. I've had Freeview PVR's before but again hard drive size has always been wanting and the EPG abysmal. I found 1 (Humax, I think) with a fantastic interface - only for the box to die within two weeks of use!

PlayTV for the PS3 however, looks quite inviting. So much so I've gone out and bought it. What can I say, the EPG is the best I've used on any platform. That includes Sky! Also it has the fastest, most responsive channel change of any freeview box I've used. And lightyears ahead of Virgins wait 5minutes to change channel.

PlayTV on it's own does not make for convergence. What's needed to really make the whole thing work is a 500Gb hard disk. 500Gb 2.5" SATA drives can be picked up for under £100. Now this gives ample breathing space for the PVR to do it's magic and has enough room for my MP3 collection, photo collection, Whose Line and Star Trek collections and the odd DiVX movie to boot.

What really sets the PS3 + PlayTV + 500Gb HDD off as the perfect convergence device though is the web browser. Just head over to BBC iPlayer on your PS3 and be amazed at it's full OnDemand glory. Also YouTube works a treat!

My Mac also acts as a UPNP media server for the PS3. Also, don't forget that the PS3 is the best Blu-Ray player on the market, a great DVD upscaler and a games console to boot.

Freeview, PVR, Media Player, On Demand, Blu Ray, DVD, Gaming and Internet in one device! I have convergence - but it's not all good...

Lets start with the PlayTV. It has a number of issues. Some can be fixed with future firmware updates, other will need a new hardware revision. To start with it has two tuners but uses one for record and one for live tv exclusively. This means you can only record from one channel at a time, despite having two tuners. Next up is the lack of TopUpTV support, for those that'd like to pay for the extra channels. And finally, the biggest problem is no HD support. This time next year atleast the BBC will be broadcast in HD on freeview.

The next problem is the web browser. Something, I can't put my finger on it, doesn't look right with it's font size and use of on screen real estate. In a way it feels 'clunky'. Then there's the fact that it's detected as a Mobile Web Browser by some pages (probably bad coding on those pages). Great for the BBC iPlayer - but go to iTV CatchUp and you get no where. Also Channel 5's on demmand is difficult to use and YouTube is very cumbersome. Worst of all though is that 4OD, the most important OnDemand service after BBC iPlayer, is a PC download only - come C4 surely you can get some flash based catch up service going?

Finally there's the hard drive. I can't organise my music/photos/movies into a neat directory structure. I'm yet to have a proper play, but it seems to by 1 dir deep and no further sub-directories. Also, I can't ftp/ssh from my Mac to my PS3 hard disk and do file management and copying onto the PS3 HDD from their.

Despite it's clitches it is the best PVR I've bought, more than worth it's money. If you look at BBC iPlayer on the PS3 you can see the future of convergence right there, and it's a bright future.
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Comments

  1. SYNACK's Avatar
    Sounds like a good setup, I've set myself up a media centre box and would not go back to the dark ages of scheduled tv either.
  2. Jay's Avatar
    I used a Windows box with Hauppage Satellite card and some software built out of the Xbox Media Centre project. It was pretty good feature wise, although performance was slow in beta. Its now a full release so I might give it another go. MEDIAPORTAL - free media center - Home

    I also tried MythTV on a linux box which worked a lot faster but unfortunatly was a sod to configure (matching EPG XML from radio times took ages for 1000+ channels). It's capable of streaming video to a number of clients and can skip commercials though, although I've not used either feature. MythTV

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