Curmudgeon Gamer
Curmudgeoning all games equally.
31 July 2008
PSN Video Store - good start, needs improvement
The PSN Video Store launched while I was away, but I tried it out as soon as I got home. So far:
  • Rented RoboCop in SD (standard definition)
  • Rented WarGames in SD
  • Rented Donnie Brasco in HD (high definition)
  • Bought Gattaca in SD
(Aside: I'd never seen RoboCop nor WarGames. I was told this made me deficient, so I'm apparently now a better person. Heh.)

I don't believe Sony will offer HD movies for sale for quite a while, but they've got work to do with just the stuff they're offering.

The good:
  • Easy to rent and buy, just like the normal PlayStation Store
  • SD movies are reasonably small, around 1.6 - 1.8GB
  • HD image quality is pretty nice, but I'm no expert
  • Selection is decent
The not so good:
  • SD movies have reasonable quality, but even I have noticed compression artifacts once or twice
  • HD movies appear to be 7GB to 8GB, which takes a few hours to download to my PS3 conncted by 802.11b to a router which is attached to a cable modem that I'm told is attached to a 6 gigabit connection.
The needs-to-be-fixed:
  • No markers inside the movie file to aid in navigation, so you don't get random access of the sort you see with DVD chapters. Basically, it's modern tape or serial access.
  • No subtitles/captions.
  • No way to see what new movies or TV shows have been added since the last visit
  • No way to buy entire seasons of TV shows at a reduced price
Certainly the issue with random access and captions should be fixable, but I don't know much about what you can do with video containers nowadays. Still, it's Sony's system and they should be able to come up with something. I know most people may not use subtitles, but both my family and my wife's family use closed captioning all the time and we've picked it up and use it all the time ourselves. We've just come to expect it. In movie descriptions on the PSN Video Store it has a field for subtitles/captions, but that field has been blank on every entry I've examined. Still, it gives me hope that Sony is looking to add subtitles/captions eventually.

Pricing is a touchy issue, I realize. The convenience of picking a movie and starting to watch it almost immediately (in SD) is a feature I'm willing to figure into my cost, but just for rentals. The delay when renting HD will keep me from going that route, I expect.

For purchases, I'm looking at $10 - $15 to download a movie that lacks basic features I expect in a DVD which retails for the same price. I don't get chapters, subtitles, special features, or commentary on the PSN Video Store, but I do with a DVD. While I can go down the street and get something that gives me noticeably more value for the same price, I won't be buying again. If I absolutely must have the movie on demand in my PS3, I'll rip it from a physical copy I own -- with captions.

If Sony fixes the pricing and features, I'll reconsider my moratorium on buying movies from PSN.

Finally, I'm pleased to see Disney movies on the list. Now, can we get some Disney movies worth watching ... like Pixar films?

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--Matt Matthews at 21:39
Comment [ 3 ]

Comments on this post:

"Finally, I'm pleased to see Disney movies on the list. Now, can we get some Disney movies worth watching ... like Pixar films?"

Not that you'll be buying them. But when I^H^H my friend ripped Nemo from a disc I^H^H he owned, it came with the "special features" intact. That is, the movie would run for a few minutes and then you'd see a related interview with the designers, etc. Clever girls.

And yes, for not understanding how tic tac toe helped avoid all out nuclear war, you were deficient.

By Blogger ruffin, at 01 August, 2008 00:21  

I wonder how this compares with the Netflix service the 360 will have. We use Netflix for DVD rental already, but I have never downloaded a movie with them. I wonder if DLed Netflix movies already provides the feature missing from Sony's version?

I just wish Sony would upgrade the flash player in the PS3. Some web videos (like Zero Punctuation) will not play with the older version.

By Blogger LisaB, at 04 August, 2008 10:56  

Random Access

I'm not sure that is possible. Wait let me rephrase that, companies doesn’t want to give you the full disc media experience. I have noticed on Comcast and now on PSN that the movies you stream or download just come with no frills. No extras, no chapters you just get the movie. If what I know about these things holds true I'm sure some un mentioned 3rd party company gets the raw data and just makes the "downloadable" distribution copy that iTunes, Comcast, Netflix, Wal-Mart, everyone else, and Sony use to DLC. It is a 'chop shop' that in all likelihood received a tiny amount of money to make these no frill files. I’m sure they made very low file size copies, medium, and large....but they are all stripped down files.

And that model won’t change until the companies stop wanting you to buy the disc. They want these no-frills copies because they still want you buying the disc-media copies at you local stores that have all the fun content. These downloadable copies are supposed to be disappointing and minimalist for that very reason.

My experience with PSN has been positive. The rentals are the same cost as my Comcast On Demand service, but the PSN copies look better. Likely that is because the Sony service is sending a better copy the Comcast service which is instantaneous streaming without hiccups. It steams fine...but the copy isn’t as good. I did a test run using Aqua Teen Hunger Force (Cartoon Network) and the PSN copy side by side was much better with shaper images, brighter colors. I suppose the is my opinion, but my eyes are good for what that is worth.

By Blogger MonkeyKing1969, at 04 August, 2008 14:49  

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