PlayStation Vue – One Month Later
Our household ‘cut the cord’ a few years ago. Between streaming services and over the air broadcasts, we just couldn’t justify the expense or being tied to a contract.
This has worked for a while, but I found I was missing a lot of live sports, and some specialty shows would take forever to show up on a streaming service.
Imagine trying to dodge Walking Dead spoilers while waiting for Netflix to get new episodes.
For some programming, we used Hulu Plus to fill in gaps, and others we were able to use an antennae with a DVR enabled PC.
Doing alright, but some things could be easier.
And again, I was missing live sports.
When Playstation Vue was launched nationwide, with a 7 day free trial, we decided to give it a test run.
The first thing you’ll notice when firing up Vue is the interface.
Sony has taken a page from streaming services and completely eschewed the traditional live television interface and program guides.
Large logos, categories, and show recommendations are very visible and easily accessed. While a program guide is available, even that guide is somewhat different than I was used to. Channels are listed horizontally, and the timeline is vertical. Took me a little while to get used to.
Not saying it’s bad, just saying that it was different. Ultimately, I appreciated it.
Using a PlayStation controller as a remote is also a little weird, but fortunately, there are options.
On a PS3, the optional Bluetooth Media Remote (available for cheap all over the place) works very well.
Although that remote does not work with PS4, I found by turning on ‘Allow HDMI Control’ in my settings I could use my regular television remote.
Picture quality? Not an issue. Sony recommends a 10mbs connection to get the best experience, and while your mileage may vary, I’ve never had any stuttering, pixelation, or buffering. I would put the picture integrity on par with my OTA signal.
Channel selection is about what you’d get with a basic cable package (I went with the lowest tier package), with the exception of local channels… and here’s where it gets a little weird.
Local networks are not available in all areas. My area is one of those.
What you get instead of local channels is a selection of ‘on demand’ programming from NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox. Most popular shows are available the day after they air, much like the Hulu Plus model.
I get these channels OTA, and I have my own DVR/Media Center PC hooked to an antennae, so not much of big deal for me. Could be a deal breaker for you, but I don’t mind.
Just means I have two reasons I no longer need a Hulu subscription instead of just one.
Speaking of DVR, one of the biggest reasons I wanted to try Vue was the DVR functionality.
Adding a program to your recording list is as easy as hitting a single button, and Vue will record every instance of the show going forward and (more importantly) even grab some episodes that have already aired. This is hit or miss, but you’ll find most programs have at least a handful of past episodes available.
All of this without space limits (episodes are stored on Sony’s cloud servers), or chance of a scheduling conflict. Recorded episodes will be available for 28 days.
My only beef: there is no way to remove watched episodes from your list (at least no way that I could find).
The only indication that you’ve watched an episode is a barely discernible blue bar at the bottom of the show’s thumbnail.
Not being able to remove watched episodes from the queue… well… it gets cluttered very quickly.
Also, unless there’s some setting I was unable to find, you cannot adjust the start and stop times for recordings.
This could be problematic for recording sports events to watch on delay. I haven’t had an issue of a recording ending too soon, or starting too late… but I fear it may happen at some point.
After almost a month of using the service, here’s the bottom line: I like it, I’ll keep using it.
Compared to cable or satellite services, the price is MUCH lower in my area, the channel selection is just as robust, and there are no contracts.
Did I mention that? NO CONTRACTS.
Also, no hidden fees for equipment rental, or mystery extras.
I call that a win.
My suggestion: if you’re interested, give the 7 day free trial a spin.
Ultimately, your existing media acquisition pipeline and costs in your area will determine if the service is for you, but it works as advertised, and is a viable option.