PlayStation Vue: Updates

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PlayStation Vue is slowly shaping up to be the cable killer Sony promised it would be. Today the company announced that it would rollout nation-wide by offering three new packages – Access Slim, Core Slim and Elite Slim – that offer everything the regular packages offer, minus live local channels. We’ll revisit the score once we try the new packages for ourselves.

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Sony’s had a mixed year of PlayStation software launches. From the outlandishly-priced PlayStation Now to the much-improved PlayStation Music that replaced Music Unlimited in March, it seems like new releases are either falling flat on their face or hitting it out of the park, with only a product or two landing in between.

PlayStation Vue, the new live TV streaming service that intends to compete with Sling TV and the (assumed) upcoming Apple TV service, had all the makings of a home run. It has loads of content (over 80 channels if you shell out for the “elite” package), is able to record an unlimited amount of live TV for up to 28 days and uses something 20 million people already own, the PS4.

So what happened?

For better and worse, PlayStation Vue copied some of cable’s foibles and faux-pas, and yet succeeds in some ways the big services simply cannot. Vue introduces new headaches, like dealing with download speeds; while alleviating some of the problems that plagued cable, like service fees and inescapable contracts. Vue gets content recommendation on a level that few services seem to understand, while at the same time failing to completely give you everything you want in one affordable package.

Review: Updated: PlayStation Vue

Parlez-Vue PlayStation?

Before we dig deep into the pros and cons of Sony’s wannabe cable killer, let’s spend a minute on what PlayStation Vue is and how it works.

PlayStation Vue is a US-only cable service that takes both traditional cable channels and over-the-air content from sources like NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX and combines them into a single app for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Amazon Fire TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick and iPad. Sony also has plans to enable Chromecast support for the iOS app, too, sometime down the road.

So far Sony only sells three types of packages that vary in price and amount of channels, starting at $49 a month and goes up to $69 for the all-inclusive pass. It’s worth noting that, because the service depends on local cable stations for content from NBC, CBS and FOX, Sony needs to individually negotiate with each station before bringing the service to a new location. So far, Sony has made deals in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and Dallas, Texas.

Here are the packages in full detail:

Access package – $39 a month – CBS, COZI TV, myTV, NBCm Telemundo, AMC, Animal Planet, BET, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CMT, CNBC, CNN, Comedy Central, Destination America, Discovery, Discovery Family, DiY, E!, Esquire, Food Network, Fox Business, Fox News, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports 2, FX, FXX, HGTV, HLN, Investigation Discovery, MSNBC, MTV, MTV2, National Geographic, NBC Sports Network, Nick Jr., Nickelodeon, Nicktoons, OWN, Oxygen, Science, Spike, SyFy, TBS, TLC, TNT, Travel, truTV, TVLand, USA, VH1, WeTV, plus ABC, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform (formerly ABC Family), ESPN and ESPN 2

Core package – $45 a month – Everything from the Access package, plus BTN, BTN Alternative, Golf, IFC, Sundance, TCM, YES, ESPNU, ESPNews and SEC Network.

Elite package – $55 a month – Everything from the Core package, plus AHC, BET Gospel, Boomerang, Centric, Chiller, Cloo, CMT Pure Country, CNBC World, Cooking, Discovery Life, Fox College Sports Atlantic, Central, Pacific, FXM, LOGO, MTV Hits, MTV Jams, MTVU, NatGeo Wild, Palladia, Sprout, Teen Nick, Universal, Velocity, VH1 Classic, VH1 Soul and Disney Fusion.

Sony also recently announced the Slim packages that offer the same functionality of the standard packages, but are available nation-wide:

Access Slim: 55+ channels, including live cable TV, movies, and sports channels for $29.99 per month.Core Slim: 70+ channels, including all the channels from Access Slim with the addition of national and regional sports networks for $34.99 per month.Elite Slim: 100+ channels, featuring all the channels from Core Slim with the addition of more top movie and entertainment channels for $44.99 per month.

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Review: Updated: PlayStation Vue

Sony has also told us that it will add a channel for PlayStation originals – like Powers – once it ramps up production in the coming year, as well as Showtime’s new standalone streaming service once it goes live in early July.

Like Sling TV, PlayStation Vue requires that your device be connected to the internet while watching and speeds of at least 10Mbps to get a full-resolution, uninterrupted picture.

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Device support

PlayStation Vue is available on PS3 and PS4, as well as iPad. (The latter requires a PlayStation 4 to sign up, however.) To download it, you need to live in one of the seven markets – Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas or Miami – and have a valid credit card on file with Sony.

If you own any of Sony’s other devices like the PlayStation Vita or PlayStation TV, however, you’re out of luck. Sony has told other outlets that while there’s a chance Vue will end up on these platforms eventually, it probably won’t happen anytime soon.

Review: Updated: PlayStation Vue

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Interface

PlayStation Vue’s interface is exactly what you’d expect from a Sony-made app. There’s menus for live TV, recommended content, your favorite shows, as well as a traditional TV guide. Everything on the menu with the exception of the guide is arranged in tiles on a grid, creating a sense that Sony’s placing more about the show than its source.

The interface, while not the most intuitive in the world, is serviceable. Trying to browse for shows through the guide takes a bit longer than I would’ve liked, as Vue only shows four or five channels’ worth of content at a time, but eventually you’ll get where you want to go.

Performance

PlayStation Vue, like Sling TV, Plex, Netflix and every other streaming service, can only do so much to create a seamless experience. The rest really falls upon your home network.

If you have a slow internet connection – let’s say, 5Mbps or less – you can probably expect a lot of hiccups, stuttering and low-resolution video. Stepping up to around 10Mbps will net you a solid connection and will almost guarantee a solid connection, but a lower-than-average resolution.

It’s not until you get to the 15-20Mbps range through a wired connection to your router that things really start to look good on PlayStation Vue. If you already have that level of internet service coming into your home, great. Just make sure your PS4 is either in range of the router or you have the ability to hardwire your system.

Final verdict

Once you’ve got your home network up to par, PlayStation Vue is an actually fun – if not always practical – way to watch TV. Using cloud DVR to record shows for up to 28 days means you won’t have to fight with your significant other for space on the TiVo while the recommendations will continually push new and exciting content in front of your face.

But ultimately, because packages start at $49 for 45 channels you may or may not want to watch, you might end up overpaying for content. Also, keep in mind that at least four or five of those channels are available over-the-air for free with a digital tuner and antenna.

If you already own a PS4 or PS3 and a relatively fast internet package, and plan to use the iPad functionality when it becomes available, then PlayStation Vue could be one solution for you to cut down on the cable bill. If you aren’t in that situation or are just trying a cable alternative for the first time, PlayStation Vue is merely a lively alternative to the better, prime time-ready options out there.

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43 thoughts on “PlayStation Vue: Updates

  1. Yeah me to David I’m rockin the Roku3 with Sling, Hulu, HBO and my Muhu.

  2. It’s now late November and still no Vue. I have gone to commercial free Hulu and Sling. Will not try Vue.

  3. Yeah well I’m still here in Phoenix Az waiting for it to get here until then I’ll keep streaming what I’ve got because I do not want cable or Sat again. I do however wish the NFL would spread they’re viewing rights around and tell direct tv to take a hike.

  4. Well, I don’t know what article you read, but clearly they had their facts wrong. Again, Sony launched certain channels nationwide (Showtime, EPIX, and a Sports Channel I think) in the summer. The thing with Vue, which I have and I love it, is that because they are reaching local markets, it requires licensing with each region individually. I know it’s frustrating, but they want to do it right, including those local broadcasts. Just think, hopefully when it reaches you, it’ll have even more channels, like the Disney/ABC ones. I know alot of people have been waiting for those.

  5. I read an article several months ago that says it would be launched nationwide in July but it never happened and I haven’t heard any recent updates. I sure wish Sony would get this thing rockin I’m ready !

  6. Where did it say launching in July? Certain a la carte options went nationwide, but what source said Vue was launching in July? Especially since other markets already had it prior to July.

  7. Its July the 20th so where is VUE ? You said launching in early July !

  8. Time to move to the greatest country in the WORLD!!!!!!

  9. Meh, the whole tv via console thing is weird, sounds nice, but availability outside of US is…sparse to say the least.

  10. Thanks for this information Cameron. Very bad choice by Sony.

  11. Vue only offers a 7-day free trial. Showtime’s standalone channel through it offers a 30-day trial. So if you thought Vue was 30-day trial, then that’s your fault, not Sony’s.

  12. Watch out for the 30 day trial! They will send you an email that says you will not be billed, then 7 days later you will be billed as I was for all services you checked the box for on free trial signup. Then you will receive a playstation wallet credit amount for the outrageous service price they are asking. HBO Go can demand their high price because of their content. Showtime and all other channels trying to sling themselves have to come down in price if they want to overthrow the current cable satellite internet packages.

  13. I think vew sucks. I’ve used both Sling & Vue, over the exact same 50Mbps connection, and Sling stutters 90% less. For me, Vue was unwatchable, with constant stuttering. Not so with Sling.

  14. You can stream up to 5 devices simultaneously, if your network can handle that kind of traffic.

  15. can you watch Vue on two seperate devices ex: PS4 and Firestick at the same time?

  16. I started my Vue trial and here’s what I like: it costs significantly less than cable when you factor in all the nickel and diming that happens with fees for HD, DVR service, equipment rentals, multiple devices, etc…Vue is also the only streaming service I’m aware of that offers local sports channels (CSN)…the cloud DVR is also a really nice feature (no more storage mgmt). Picture quality seems to be better than cable (which tends to have a lot of artifacting and video compression to squeeze in all those HD signals). I have my PS4 connected through ethernet, very little buffering times…there was some stutter when I also tried to view something on the iPad…multiple devices could be where the service suffers.

  17. What does it cost after the promotion expires? Plus the lower tier packages will be missing a couple dozen decent channels PS Vue Elite caries. Those ‘premium’ channels will not be in the basic package and most likely not in the next level for Dish and DTV. And if you’re relatively close to broadcast antennas ( 003c 50 miles) get a Mohu Leaf and you’ll pull in up to 30 local DTV channels. I pull in 27. My experience is to get all the channels I like in the PS Vue Elite Slim package I’d need the top tier TWC package or next to top tier for both Dish & DTV. That’s in the $80-$90 range once out of the promotion period. So I could get more channels at a cheaper promotional cost for Dish or DTV, but I’d have less channels than I like viewing and have with PS Vue Elite. And once the promotion ends I’ll be paying more than PS Vue for quite a bit less. Of course this is based on my viewing tastes. Your mileage may vary, but all-in-all I’m very happy and at this point will never go back unless and until one of the traditional providers offers me more value. Dish regular pricing is $69.99, $79.99 & $89.99. DTV is a bit more expensive, and TWC is the least transparent marketer. It’s impossible to determine what their standard pricing actually is, until you get past the first year, then 2nd year, then the sticker shock really hits in the 3rd year. I’ve replaced TWC TV & Digital Phone, with a Mohu Leaf HD Antenna, PS Vue, Vonnage Basic Talk and even MLBTV. That along with my Amazon Prime account and VUDU for pay-per-view and I have a far, far superior package than my premium Triple Play package and for almost $50/month less. Oh, and I also don’t get hit with a $10 eqipment rental (and this is after I got my own Modem & Router) or a $9 surcharge for Braodcast & Sports, or the miscellaneous fees and taxes. All that stuff comes to almost $30/month and there’s nothing I can delete from my bundle to lower it.

  18. Well, checked it out, and for the price, I may as well get the lowest tier of cable that includes the SyFy channel – as I’d actually get more, including local TV stations, for less $$$. I guess if you’re in an area where you don’t have access to cable, this isn’t bad, but for me it isn’t any cheaper.

  19. What kind of bandwidth will be soaked up with this? My ISP has no limit, but I don’t want to freak anyone out causing them to implement one if I decide to have my

  20. I suspect that may be due to your internet connection and bandwidth. I live in a home where there are about 10 devices running on a 27 mbps connection and I have zero issues with play-ability.

  21. Playstation Vue keeps freezing up while watching a movie or tv show and also jumps on you when you are browsing! If this gets fixed I would pay the $45 per month for the service!

  22. I have Vue and it saves me almost $100 a month compared to what I pay for cable. I have 4 TV’s the living room runs thru a Amazon TV box, and the rest run thru Firesticks. The box works better because it’s hardwired into the router, but the sticks works pretty well also over wifi. I have noticed certain times I do run into more buffering, but even then it’s no different then watching netflix. I do wish they would get BBC tho cause I did watch that a lot.

  23. You offer nothing but an attempt at an insult using Atari as your source material… but I’M the moron?? Ha.

  24. I don’t think Atari was a Japanese console..

  25. guys atari was the best thing that ever happened. The 2600,5200 and 7800. Yes some atari games were just too easy till they came out with something better like the 5200. I still have all those systems and they still work and i still play them. i had the atari 2600 for over 35yrs. It proves how good the japanese consoles are. I been threw about 3 controllers on the 2600 in 38yrs.

  26. thanks to video game consoles like atari, crime has gone down especially those have own a playstation. you dont see many hoodlums riding bikes on the street sellin drugs,pussy,dick sayin yoyoyo. i dont especially n the hood.

  27. PS4 is way better. You must be a moron. To you 10 Atari 2600s are better than a one PS3.

  28. PS4 is defining what Sony is going for with their consoles… copying the Apple iPhone business model. Trying to make everything obsolete in the previous version no matter how good it worked just to make extra money. I’m not spending $500 on a console just because it’s the new thing. If you were wondering, no, I don’t have an iPhone either. (BTW, multiple PS3’s is still 003c single PS4.)

  29. The ps2 could play ps1 games,the original ps3 could play ps2 games and the NDS lite could play GBA games.

  30. i dont know why people are surprised that the ps4 isnt backwards compatible, because traditionally video game consoles have never been backwards compatible.

  31. Most people do not store recordings for more than a year. PS 3 makes more sense if you already have a PS4 and want more for other rooms. Why pay more for the PS4 to watch TV?

  32. If you wait a year to watch something, then you can probably find it on a streaming service somewhere. Clearly if you wait a year, you aren’t that invested.

  33. Why, is storing something longer than a month unnecessary (dumb take on your part)? I’ve recorded movies and shows that I watched more than a year later. What is unnecessary is multiple PS3s (btw they have PS4 now).

  34. Multiple PS3s solves that problem. Storing longer than a month is really unnecessary anyway.

  35. You can stream to 5 devices in a home over the network. That should cover most any home tv arrangement.

  36. It isn’t bad if you have only 1 tv, and don’t want to store anything on a Dvr for over a month. It isn’t practical if you have multiple tvs.

  37. I can hardly wait for Playstation Vue to make it out West so I can cut the cord with Direct Tv

  38. But the PS4 will already be using that space regardless, so your argument is invalid.

  39. Could be a great way to watch TV without cluttering my entertainment center with a cable box. $50 seems a tad steep though.

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