As rightfully-demonized cable companies scramble to figure out why everyone hates them so much, tech giants like Apple and Sony are scooping up deserters with alternative ways to pump entertainment into your living room. Sony’s bid to be your couch potato companion comes in the form of the PlayStation Vue service, and it’s the closest thing we’ve seen to full-blown cable yet.
That closeness to an actual cable service has its ups and downs. On the one hand, Sony is making a huge amount of actual live TV stations (both broadcast and premium) available through their interface. Set up is exceptionally easy on both the PS3 and PS4; simply install the app and watch TV. A host of new delivery methods for on-PlayStation owners, like the $100 Playstation TV box, are coming soon. You can even set favorites which will record to an unlimited, cloud-based DVR for an instant, on-demand playback. On the other hand, the service is much pricier than we’ve seen from competitors approaching the same problem, with the cheapest option being $50 a month and the most expensive set at $70. This service is hardly the a la carte solution that cord-cutters dream about, but it is still significantly cheaper than cable. Plus, it’s reliable as long as your internet meets the 10 mbps recommended speed.
There are some nitpicky issues that we also have with the service and interface. A 720p resolution cap definitely isn’t making the most of our HDTV’s resolution. Also, interface weirdness needs refinement, especially when it comes to the guiding aspect of the service. Fast-forwarding through commercials needs a thumbnail preview, because we were constantly doing the forward/reverse cha-cha to skip commercials only to wind up mid-show or mid-commercial. All of these problems can are fixable, and we wouldn’t be surprised if Sony starts patching the app with fixes in the very near future.
Sony has rolled out the service in test markets like Philly and New York, but PS Vue is expected to launch on a national scale this April. With a little luck and some more innovation from Sony, more people will be able to tell Comcast and Time Warner to hit the bricks.