Video Store Impressions
Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Microsoft all have Internet based movie download stores, now Sony finally launches their video service for the PS3. The concept is the same, but what’s really important is the quality of the implementation.
I don’t have an exact count, but I would ballpark their selection at about 100-150 movies in addition to TV shows. The movies are mostly recent, fairly mainstream movie picks. The selection is currently a weak point, but for launch day, this is understandable. We will see how quickly they can grow their selection.
I found it kind of odd that the selection of even Sony Pictures movies was slim. Of course, that is a completely separate division within Sony, but I still would have expected a tighter integration.
Pricing + Rights
The pricing structure varies quite a bit. I bought a single TV episode for $2 an and an HD movie rental for $4.50. This seems a little high, but not outrageous.
You can start watching the movie almost instantly, but there was a big problem. Even after letting the movie download for twenty minutes before starting it, I could only watch about ten minutes of movie before the movie stopped to buffer. I gave the download another five minutes to download, but I only got another minute or so of movie watching before it started to buffer again, so I left my PS3 to download and read a book for the night. By the morning the movie was fully downloaded, but my 24 hour viewing period expires this evening and I probably won’t even get to see my movie. The 24 hour viewing window begins as soon as you hit play, so it might be wise to wait until the movie is mostly downloaded before doing so.
Quality + Features
I only have an SDTV, but the two videos I bought looked as good as anything else I’ve seen on my TV. The audio was less impressive. It was stereo only (even on an HD rental), there were no language options, no optional subtitles, and there are no special features that you normally get with a DVD/blu-ray rental.
Convenience + Interface
The main browsing interface is very quick and snappy and most movies offered convenient preview clips. However, the interface lacking several important features such as a movie rating and recommendation system, community features such as user reviews or “movie friends”, and a queue or save to watch later type of system.
This is a great feature to offer console owners, the movie download stores are clearly going to grow in quality and popularity. Currently, the service clearly has many limitations, but clearly the service just launched, and will take some time to mature.