More Playing With PlayTV

I’ve been tinkering with PlayTV for the PS3 again recently, a rare occurrence given my reliance on Sky+ which renders it almost entirely obsolete.

Specifically I’ve tried using PlayTV via Remote Play and additionally tried exporting recordings to the XMB and copying them onto USB storage to try and play elsewhere.

Both of these things worked surprisingly well!

First off, Remote Play with PlayTV is an absolute joy to use. The presence of Wifi in both the PSP and PS3 mean you don’t need an existing wireless infrastructure to support completely wireless streaming of freeview to your TV. Even if you do have a WiFi flooded home, the Ad-Hoc connection between the PS3 and PSP will not be affected by, or affect any other traffic on your network which makes it quite reliable.

A small caveat will be encountered in range, however, the PS3 isn’t quite on a par with a proper wireless router, you can end up with jittery or freezing playback in some areas of your house. Fortunately Remote Play deals well with this, and just moving your PSP back in range will get things running smoothly again.

The direct connection between the PSP and PS3 will easily handle maximum (+2) image quality streaming, resulting in a perfectly watchable TV picture that’s ideal for curling up under the covers with.

Everything you can do locally with PlayTV can be done via Remote Play, meaning you can turn on your PSP, connect, fire up PlayTV and schedule some recordings without having to directly use your PS3 or tie up the television. Unfortunately Remote Play is still a bit of a chore to fire up, but then so is walking downstairs!

Copying video from the PS3 to another device was surprisingly easy. I always expected PlayTV to be laced with heavy DRM that would prevent me copying recordings to anything but a PSP. Quite to the contrary, however, I could copy the freshly moved-to-XMB recording onto a USB drive and play it flawlessly in VLC under OSX.

PlayTV uses the m2ts video format for which plenty of conversion utilities are available. It even plays directly on a SlingCatcher, although it’s currently playing the audio description track instead of the main audio, whoops!

Moving video from PlayTV to the XMB also means you don’t have to fire up PlayTV to watch it.

Of course, once you’ve exported a recording from PlayTV to the XMD you can move it to any external storage you might have connected to your PS3. This is great for archiving mind-boggling amounts of recorded television. I guesstimate that a 500gb hard drive will hold 30 hours of video which comes straight out of PlayTV at an extremely low compression ratio. I think the sheer size of PlayTV m2ts video recordings is probably more a necessity than anything else. The PS3 has to be able to both record TV and run games simultaneously, this makes it difficult to perform any sort of heavy, real-time compression.

There’s nothing to stop you yanking that external hard drive and hooking it up to a reasonably beefy PC for a round of conversion to your favourite flavour of video files.

It’s pretty clear that if you don’t rely on Sky or Virgin TV recording solutions (or the alternative that you might have in your country) then the PlayTV is a damned fine choice. If you own a PS3 and PSP combination then you effectively get a remote control on steroids (PlayTV is probably the only good reason to use Remote Play). The ability to easily export files from PlayTV and onto a storage medium in a high quality digital format means that it’s all a lot tidier and less wasteful than a DVD recorder. You might want to upgrade your PS3 hard drive with a 320-500gb jobby if you plan on using it extensively, though.

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