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Playstation 3 PlayTV

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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Well, this arrived today from the good folks at play.com. Initial impressions are mixed. I was hoping, with the PS3's superior upscaling abilities (compared to my TV anyway), that the picture was going to be a big improvement over my Topfield PVR. Unfortunately, it's about the same at the moment so, not a disaster, but not what I'd hoped.
The system itself is very easy to setup - hook it up with an aerial connection, connect it to the PS3 via USB (no power needed, it's USB powered), install the software with the supplied disc, quick channel scan and you're in. It comes with a little sticky thing to stick over the PS3's bluetooth remote which includes written text for buttons on both DVD playback (i.e. as before) and now text underneath each button in blue which indicates the PlayTV command for that button which works nicely. If you want this but don't have the PS3 bluetooth remote, I strongly suggest you purchase one as I reckon using the controller would be tiresome at best.
So far, things I like:
1. Acts like a normal PVR and has the ability to record one programme and watch another (though unfortunately, you cannot record more than one programme at the same time).

2. Has built in function which will record the programme even if the programme's scheduled time changes (not all current PVRs offer this).

3. Has a search facility so you can type in e.g. "Match of the Day" and it will show you all programmes with that in the title or in the description over the coming week. You can then scroll through these and set them to record. It's not perfect as it only goes by Title and Description e.g. typing in "football" showed me "Footballer's Wives", lots of Sky Sports News programmes and even "NFL Live" on Channel 4, but not Match of the Day... However, I can see this being really useful in future. (NB - if you want to use this extensively, I recommend a USB keyboard!).

4. In the Library section, you can show you're recorded programmes as a thumbnail. Highlighting the programme starts playing it in a little window.

5. Recorded programmes can be moved to your PS3's Video section on the XMB crossbar - so if you have something you know you want to keep, you can move it out of PlayTV and on to the main Home menu.

6. You can record programmes whilst playing games / Blu-Rays / DVDs. If you want to switch the unit off whilst something is recording, just do so as normal and it will go into a mode which automatically switches the PS3 to standby once the recording is finished. PlayTV will also automatically power on the PS3 from standby to record something you've scheduled.
What I don't like:
1. Has annoying pop-ups which come up telling which buttons do what every now and then which you don't seem to be able to switch off. Useful for the first two or three times, then just annoying after that. They do disappear after a few seconds but I have limited patience for oversights like this.

2. Can't record two programmes at once, even though it has two tuners to allow you to watch one and record another. Seems strange to me - maybe that will be changed with a firmware update.

3. As I say, I expected a decent improvement in picture considering the PS3's upscaling abilities and the HDMI connection compared to my Toppy's Scart. Again, I suppose this might be an improvement at a later date (as was the DVD upscaling on the original PS3).
If anyone is considering one and wants more info, feel free to post me any questions here and I'll endeavour to get back to you on it.
 

Gozaradio

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Jul 16, 2008
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Interesting first thoughts, Prof. I didn't realise this was out already!

If you can copy programmes to XMB crossbar, does that mean you could copy them off PS3 HDD to watch elsewhere or burn onto a DVD?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The above question is exactly what i want to know too. ÿI was thinking of buying Play TV, but was unsure what to do with recordings that have been moved to the XMB. ÿI would like to be able to transfer the recording to DVD, (in a format that could be played on other players), but how?

I'm thinking it would be a case of transferring the file to a USB thumb drive and from there to a PC/laptop to then burn to a DVD?

Would be very grateful it professorhat is able to test this and give some feedback?

Thanks in advance,

Raihanÿ
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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Hi guys,
Sorry, had a full weekend! Yup, this was one of things I wanted to see and I can report back on it. The PS3 records things on PlayTV in a Blu-ray BDAV MPEG-2 Transport Stream which has an extension of M2TS. Whilst this makes sense for the future (since this format will support Hi-Def video as and when it comes), it's a little annoying now as this extension isn't supported out of the box by many things.
Fortunately, getting round this isn't actually too tricky. You can hook a USB HDD or pen drive to the PS3 and copy the file quite easily to it. On connecting this to Windows or a Mac, you'll see a VIDEO folder and your files will be under here as .m2ts files. You can convert the files successfully to a different format using a program called MPEG Streamclip (available for free here - both PC and Mac version available). Using this, I could trim out all the adverts, then convert to the MPEG2 format which could then be imported into my DVD burning software to be created into a normal DVD disc which could be played on any DVD player which supports the DVD-R / DVD+R etc. discs you use. It's not ideal, but it does work.
Another option would be to copy the original file onto an external NAS or something which is DLNA enabled and you could then access them from the PS3 from this. If you've got a large DLNA network enabled hard drive (like the Buffalo Terastation), you could therefore keep anything you wanted to keep on this and access it from your PS3 in the normal way. EDIT - Well, just tried this and goes to show you shouldn't assume anything! This unfortunately doesn't work, but I think it's because my NAS is not showing the file because it doesn't understand the M2TS format, rather than the PS3 can't read it. Anyway, I'll leave this striked out and investigate - if I can get it working I'll reinstate it and let everyone know how!
One other theory I have is you could burn the M2TS file straight to a DVD under a Video folder (as in just burning the file to this, rather than encoding it into a DVD Video disc). In theory, you could then access this file from the PS3, but not from standard DVD players of course. Useful if you're just looking to archive material off your PS3's local hard disk, but are happy to view things from there via a DVD in future. I haven't tried this yet to see if it works and am running low on DVD-Rs so will try it and report back when I've got hold of some more.
Let me know if there's anything unclear or anything else you want to know.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Do you have a PSP and if so how well does the system intergrate with this?

Does it have to be plugged into the usb slots on the front of the PS3?
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
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I do indeed have a PSP - you only have to hook it up to the USB slot when you're first setting up Remote Play - once this is done, you then access the Remote Play features via the wireless network. This works fine and I was able to watch the Match of the Day I recorded through PlayTV in bed this morning before I got up! I've yet to try Remote Play over the internet though - I shall be giving this a go at some point when I remember to take my PSP round my friend's house.
EDIT - on the question of how well it integrates, PlayTV integrates seamlessly. When you connect with Remote Play, you see your PS3 home page as it appears on your TV. You can then go to PlayTV and watch Live TV, watch a recorded show, browse the EPG and set things to record etc. i.e. everything you could do if you were sat in front of the TV.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Cheers for that Prof.

However, I was not clear on my second question. I meant to ask if the 'Play TV' box was connected to the front USB slots on the PS3.
If so I would find that a bit messy aesthetically as a permanent connection.
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
991
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Ah, understood - it does unfortunately have to be connected up via the USB socket on the front. As you can see from my setup here, you can tuck it up and around so this doesn't look too bad (the other USB lead goes off to my USB keyboard). On the bottom shelf at the back under the PS3, you can see the PlayTV unit with the red light on it (well, you could on the original photo - the downsized one it's a very faint light!).
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Dear professorhat,

Thanks for the thorough review! ÿFor me, i would need to increase that hard drive, get an aerial splitter and obtain that conversion software, so wanted to know how and if it would be possible to copy to DVD. ÿI don't have a PSP, and really don't want one, but as mentioned would like to archive to DVD.

If only SCE decided to put in a Blu-ray Disc burner in the PS3....ÿ!

Thanks again!

Kindest regards,

Raihanÿ
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
991
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Raihan:If only SCE decided to put in a Blu-ray Disc burner in the PS3....ÿ!
Phew, it was expensive enough when it first came out - I'd hate to think the price if they'd done that!
No worries, let me know if you want to know anything further - I'll repost if I find an easier way to convert to DVD.
 

bullitt

New member
Mar 26, 2008
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My ps3 is also 60gb but would probably upgrade to a bigger one if i bought playtv, but would it be possible to use an external hard drive for play tv? btw is your topfield pvr as good as sky plus?
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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You can't directly record from PlayTV to an external hard drive. However, once recorded, you could move something from the PlayTV section to the XMB crossbar section and then from there, you could move the file on to an external hard drive for archiving purposes. A couple of manual steps, but nothing too vexing.
No idea if the Topfield is as good as Sky+ as have never compared the two I'm afraid. As I remember, the model I have (the TF5800) got 3 stars when reviewed in WHF, whereas the new TF5810 (which is the 500Gb HDMI version) just won this year's award for best PVR.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks Prof for giving the low down on 'Play TV.'
I thought when Sony announced it that it sounded good.

However when I look at the benefits on the 970 DVD RW it addresses
the shortcomings Play TV has.

1) Has a 250gb Hard drive

2) Upscales everything passed through it to 1080

3) Burns onto DVD recordings and off its Hard Drive

For £300ish Sony has serious competition against itself

The one thing I would like to see it have is 2 digital tuners like most freeview boxes, so you can watch a different digital channel off it whilst recording another. Play TV has this by what you say Prof so full marks for that.
 

professorhat

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Dec 28, 2007
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trevor79:For £300ish Sony has serious competition against itself
Well, to be fair, the PlayTV unit is only £60 so not really competition for the 970 at £300, I don't think. Obviously if you factor in the price of the PS3, it costs more, but I don't think anyone is going to buy a PS3 just for PlayTV so again, not really a fair comparison either.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Yes, of course, but I had in mind addressing the shortfalls of the Hard drive size, up-scaling of TV signals, being able to burn to DVD.
If those points are important to the buyer the 890, 970 etc are worth looking at.
 

bullitt

New member
Mar 26, 2008
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What type of aerial do you need for the new TF5810 is it a wideband aerial ? or a standard tv aerial?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks for your review, its been pretty helpful. I have a few questions,

1. Does Playtv has any kind of series link feature? or do you have to search for your favourite shows and set them to record every week?

2. How long does it take to get from turning the ps3 on to watching live tv?

3. Is there any way to compress the recordings, maybe to avc, to reduce space taken up by recordings.

4. When the playstation wakes up to record something, will it wake me up?! I don't own a ps3 and don't know how noisy it is.

5. You mentioned that it has missed some recordings, is it still doing this or has the problem fixed itself?

Also on another PS3 tv note, have you tried using the iPlayer through your PS3 and if so how have you found it to be, quality and upscaling-wise?

Thanks

Michael
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
991
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18,895
mj84:
Thanks for your review, its been pretty helpful. I have a few questions,

1. Does Playtv has any kind of series link feature? or do you have to search for your favourite shows and set them to record every week?

2. How long does it take to get from turning the ps3 on to watching live tv?

3. Is there any way to compress the recordings, maybe to avc, to reduce space taken up by recordings.

4. When the playstation wakes up to record something, will it wake me up?! I don't own a ps3 and don't know how noisy it is.

5. You mentioned that it has missed some recordings, is it still doing this or has the problem fixed itself?

Also on another PS3 tv note, have you tried using the iPlayer through your PS3 and if so how have you found it to be, quality and upscaling-wise?

Thanks

Michael

Have to admit, I haven't used the PlayTV for a little while because of the issues but noticed last week version 1.01 was released so I've updated this. I'll start using it from today and let you know what's changed / improved if anything.
On point 3, yes there is, but only by transferring to a computer, compressing it to an MP4 or any other compatible video format with some software (like PS3 Video 9) and then either copying it back or streaming it from your PC / NAS. There's nothing built into the PS3 which would compress it for you unless you've installed Linux or something on the PS3.
On point 4 - goodness only knows - how heavy a sleeper are you? Mine's in the living room so I never have this issue but, although there is a noise when it switches on, unless you are a light sleeper, I wouldn't expect it would wake you up.
 

professorhat

Well-known member
Dec 28, 2007
991
21
18,895
Well, update 1.02 was released at some point and three things to report on it:
[*]Might just be me, but I'm almost 100% sure the picture has improved. The update list includes "Technical performance improvements" so this could be indicating this. Trouble is, I rarely use it so hard to tell if it's just me, but watching the F1 on it, I thought the picture was very good, and better than my standard PVR. I intend to look at this some more and, if it is the case, I'll be moving to watching my TV mostly on the PS3 from now on...
[*]Although my standard PVR messed up and didn't record the main F1 race on Sunday morning because of the clocks, the PS3 shone through and recorded everything correctly - major points for this otherwise I would have missed the race![*]The what's on now guide now populates instantly which is good as previous use it could be pretty slow.

Any one else used it recently?
 

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