Sony's PlayStation 3 is a multimedia powerhouse, juggling the playback demands of Blu-ray, DVD and DivX with ease. But while on-demand content is growing in popularity, there remain a vast number of people who watch regularly scheduled, over-the-air broadcasts. So it's not surprising to see Sony enter the market with PlayTV, a new £80 device that will let you watch and record digital TV on your PlayStation 3.
Utilising a USB tuner, plus the included software, PlayTV will allow users to play, record and stream free-to-air digital programming. These types of broadcast are common across Europe, where the open DVB standard has been incorporated into such services as TDF in France and Freeview in the UK. Our colleagues at GameSpot UK sat down with a prerelease version of the device at a recent Sony event and used the occasion to put our questions to Cambridge-based developer Mark Bunting.
PlayTV really comes into its own if you have a PlayStation Portable. By enabling remote play on your PS3, you can watch TV on your PSP locally via wireless or from anywhere in the world that has a Wi-Fi connection. If you want to use PlayTV from a remote location (if you have a PSP, you're definitely going to want to), then you're going to need a router and a broadband connection to hook it up.
All models of the PlayStation 3 are compatible with PlayTV, although the more hard drive space you have, the more you'll be able to record. Whatever size hard drive you have, 6GB of space will be reserved exclusively for game-related data. The PlayTV adaptor plugs into any free USB socket on the front of the PlayStation 3.
The unit itself isn't as small as some PC-based models and, instead, takes up about the same space as an original Nintendo DS. It does contain two separate tuners, however, so you can watch and record different channels. Also, it doesn't require an external power source. While you can control PlayTV with a DualShock 3 or Sixaxis controller, a more traditional remote control is useful if you want to navigate Freeview's many channels at speed.