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Sony Video Store Is Great, But Still Not Up To Par

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A year and a half after the launch of the PS3, Sony finally delivers the goods on the video store. They offer SD and HD films, rentals and purchases. Has Sony finally given PS3 users the edge with the video store or is it just a bad copy of the Xbox Live Video Marketplace?

So I decided to give Sony’s PSN video service a test run after coming back from E3. I’ve been a fan of the Xbox Live Video Marketplace for some time now. The PSN video store was going to offer much of the same stuff except they also allow you to buy movies. Now the movies I own on DVD can be viewed on my PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. I can take them to a friends house or they can be borrowed. I have complete control over my purchased films. I was hoping to do the same with the PSN purchased movies.

I started off with an HD rental. I rented RAMBO since I hadn’t seen the movie yet. Their HD films are 720p, just like XBLVM. Many PS3 fanboys used to balk at 720p, but it’s gorgeous and it’s what most HD tv stations are broadcasting in. I started the RAMBO download and was able to start watching the film a minute after the download started, just like XBLVM. About 20min into the film, the movie paused and I got a prompt on my screen that said, ‘buffering’. So the movie played faster than it was downloading. If I let it play, it would just download a tiny bit and pause again…and again. So I would just pause it for a few minutes, surf the net and then start playing the movie again. This continued to happen about 8 times during the film. It was really annoying when it happened at important parts of the film or big action sequences. On top of that, when the credits started rolling I stopped the film and it was only at 92% downloaded. There was still 8% left to download and I had already finished the film.

Now you have to understand that I’m on a 20Mbs Fios connection. It’s lightening fast and I’ve never had this problem with any HD movies off of XBLVM. In fact, I’ve never once had to buffer an HD film off of XBLVM. The culprit here is network infrastructure and I think PSN is going to need an upgrade before everyone catches on to the new video store.

My second test was to purchase a film and play it on my PC, 360 and iPhone. I don’t have a PSP so that test will have to wait. I purchased The Bank Job for $14.99. It took awhile to download but when it was finished, I plugged a thumbdrive into the PS3 to copy the movie. I highlighted the film and hit options and low and behold there was no copy to USB option. In fact, the only prompt that came up was a prompt to insert my PSP to copy the movie. So with this new video service you can only copy films that you purchase to your PSP. Where’s the freedom of owning a movie if I can’t move it to all my devices? I would assume that I could find a way to get it off of my PSP if I had one, but since I don’t at the moment that test will have to wait.

There are some great things about the PSN video store. I love the fact that I can use a filter to just list HD films. I hate scampering through the dashboard for HD films on XBLVM. I also like the preview quality on PSN a bit better than XBLVM.

The library on PSN is mainly comprised of blockbuster films. You won’t find stuff like Machine Girl on PSN, at least not now anyways. OH and they did have a few James Bond films in HD which is VERY cool.

Sony is finally gaining some ground on Microsoft but they still aren’t there yet. That’s not to say what they have available isn’t a huge leap for them. They just don’t have the library that Xbox has and the performance of PSN for video downloads is questionable. If you don’t have any other streaming video service and you own a PS3, this is just one more feature for you to bang your chest about.

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