Hands-on with the new Sony PlayStation Video Store

E3 2008

It's smart, it's got fantastic curves, it's got sexy moves and grooves, it's — wait, you thought I was talking about the PlayStation Video Store? Well yeah, actually, I am. What were you thinking?

Hands-on with the new Sony PlayStation Video Store

The ballyhooed PlayStation Video store lauded by Sony at its E3 2008 press conference Wednesday went live Wednesday night, stuffed with some 300 movies and over 1,200 slices of TV content. Nope, you don't need to download a thing to get to it, just have the latest 2.41 firmware installed, a PlayStation Network ID selected, and you can dive in with a simple tap on your XMB's PlayStation Store icon.

Once you're in the PSN, the actual video button that takes you to the store is oddly inconspicuous, a tiny capsule icon sequestered out of the way in the upper left hand corner next to "Games," and unless you're looking for it, easy to miss. I've encountered dozens of posts on various forums in the last several hours from confused PS3 owners along the lines of "It's up? Where???" because they're looking for something a little splashier and obvious.

Cursor up and give it a tap and you're whisked into a sleek "sort-by" interface with banner ads popping in like boxouts on a conventional web page and category selection options on the left divvied into the following:

New Arrivals
Movies
Television
Anime
Available in HD
Rental
Purchase
Top Downloads

Hands-on with the new Sony PlayStation Video Store

Getting around from there's pretty straightforward and works exactly like the rest of the recently updated PlayStation Store. Just click on something and you drill down, or tap the "back" button to pull up again. One deficiency I noticed, though, was a lack of hierarchical labeling to give you a sense of where you're at. To be fair, you can only drill in three or four layers at any given point, so it's hard to get lost, but since you can access the same content from multiple nodes, it's impossible to quickly tell whether you're looking at a movie like Hellboy via New Arrivals, Movies, Available in HD, Rental, etc.

Consider how easy it'd be to run a single line of text along the top of the screen. Something, say, like...

Movies --> Science Fiction --> Hellboy --> Hellboy HD

It'd be nice to see an index like that in a future store iteration, if only as a friendly way to help us keep our bearings. Given the mangled way hitting SELECT to read the service's "about" info works, I gather Sony's challenge is screen real estate (the two or three word subheads for the "about" section have to scroll left-to-right just to be legible, making its menu-bar look like a sloppy collision of letters and dots).

Hands-on with the new Sony PlayStation Video Store

'Top Downloads' is currently empty — no surprise, and I'll bet Sony gives it a week or more to let the numbers aggregate.

As for the content itself, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a startup offering, mostly recent fare from shlock-blockbusters like Cloverfield and 10,000 BC all the way over to stuff like Juno, 3:10 to Yuma, Napoleon Dynamite, and one of my personal favorite films of last year, The Darjeeling Limited. You've got a sprinkling of older films too, from Dances With Wolves and Hoosiers to Hannibal, Donnie Brasco, Child's Play, etc. and the option to view by movie genres or even individual studios, e.g. Disney, 20th Century Fox, MGM, Sony, etc.

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Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
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