July 19, 2017

Review of PlayStation Vue

I've been toying with the idea of using a Over The Top (OTT) cable TV service.    Our cable bill keeps going up and up and up.   I call them periodically to argue myself a discount but I'm having less success with that tactic lately.   At the same time, there have been a boom in OTT providers.   Sling TV, Hulu TV, Youtube TV, DirectTV Now and Playstation Vue are the five current major players.  

I started a 5 day free trial with Playstation Vue to check out the service and see how well it would work.  Here are my thoughts.

I tested Vue on my Playstation 3 console and on my Android phone.   It generally worked well on both devices.   The interface and guide worked pretty well in general.  

On the PS3 I did run into some major lags and random buffering.   However, I should qualify that and detail the actual amount of lag that I saw.    One time while browsing around the interface in PS3 it kind of hung for about 30 seconds.    I remember some other misc. hangs and delays but nothing more significant than that 30 second pause.    I also put the service to a critical test by watching the entire first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 off the DVR / on demand function.   During the entire show I recall it pausing for a few times for a fraction of a second in apparent buffering.   Most of the problems I ran into on the PS3 were in the browsing interface or in the guide and not while watching a program.     Its also possible that the issues I saw on PS3 could be because my console is old or running a little hot and not specific to the Vue software.     Or the problems could have been internet related too, its always hard to tell.    I do use that same PS3 to watch Netflix regularly and I never see problems with Netflix that aren't the fault of the network.

I did not see any problems with the interface in my Android phone.   However performance may vary based on the specific phone and if you have an underpowered, or older phone it may not work quite as well.   I don't have a high end phone but its only about a year old and not underpowered.     Its possible my issues in the PS3 were device specific then.  

I've heard that ESPN does not allow DVR recording of their live content on services like Playstation Vue or Sling.   I haven't confirmed it but I'm guessing this applies to the other OTT providers as well.
This detail throws a major wrench into my plan to investigate OTT as a possible TV alternative to my cable service.     However it seems you can use Playon to record ESPN directly from the ESPN site using your service credentials.   So this might work as a workaround to record games off ESPN.

Overall I did like the Vue service.    I'd give it a thumbs up with the minor qualification of some delays or lag on the PS3.

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