Online TV Services - Late 2010 Update - Sony

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Since our previous look at online TV services, the BBC iPlayer has, as we predicted back then, gone live on Sony’s Bravia Internet Video platform. And it works very well, too.

However, there are also two further significant additions to what was already an excellent online service: Sony’s own Qriocity platform, and Sky News.

Qriocity lives up to its name at first glance. For it’s essentially a Video On Demand service enabling you to pay to download films. This isn’t odd in itself, but it does look a little bizarre when you consider that BIV already carries LoveFilm. Does a single online platform really need multiple film rental services? Especially when the newest platform only offers a quite limited amount of content?

Maybe. For it turns out that Qriocity justifies itself thanks to its pricing structure. LoveFilm uses a monthly subscription pay model, while Qriocity lets you ‘pay per view’; as in, you only pay for what you watch. So if you only imagine wanting to occasionally watch a film rather than watching films regularly, Qriocity could fit the bill. That said, it did seem to us that the service’s prices were rather high.

The new Sky News ‘app’ is simple but effective. Firing it up produces four boxes labelled Headlines, Top Story, Showbiz, and Weather. So obviously you just the option you want, from where you’re taken through to a video show related to the option you chose.

The footage in these sections has been specially shot and modified for the app; you don’t get simple re-runs of the live coverage from the Sky News studio.

The videos play in a constant loop, so you don’t always join them right at the start. But with this in mind they’ve been kept short, so you don’t have to wait long for the start to come round again.

News coverage was the one thing that wasn’t great about BIV before, while its interface feels a touch clunky, the addition of Sky News is overall very welcome.

The addition of two new services to the BIV offering has really started to make Sony’s interface creak under the strain, though. Just listing everything in a scroll down menu within the TV’s general menus once seemed like a great idea, but now it’s making looking for online content a chore, and harming the chances of content relegated low down the list ever being spotted.

moose56

December 28, 2010, 12:38 pm

As the owner of a Panasonic TV I have to look with envy at practically every other manufactures online content offering. Panasonic seem to be really weak in this area.

SRS

December 28, 2010, 5:01 pm

Where this will fail is that these companies are still thinking of their devices as TVs with some extra functionality grafted on. And it shows - slow, clunky UIs, terrible ergonomics (try doing anything quickly with the supplied remotes), poor software and next to no software updates and improvements people now expect.





They should really be providing just the panel and image processing technology and let others step in for the media provisioning and management.

Ash

December 28, 2010, 6:31 pm

Good article. I have been telling colleages at work, smart TVs are going to be the next big thing, just like smartphone. It will get more exciting when you start seeing Android, Meego and Apple iOS based products, with the same possiblities as on smartphones and an explosion of apps. The current range of 'connected TV' aren't smart enought IMO, I would compare them to feature phones...

wakeyjamie

December 28, 2010, 11:40 pm

Interesting but i think you've been a bit unfair leaving Samsung out of the list. We bought a Samsung UE32C6530 a couple of months ago and the internet@TV stuff is absolutely brilliant. The iplayer is a joy to use and supports HD streaming. And youtube, lovefilm, acetrax and Muzu.tv are all genuinely useful and worth having.

Powerful

December 29, 2010, 11:05 am

Thanks for this. It would be good to have a regular update of online content - say monthly or so.





On Sony content: The new BBC iPlayer is still only Beta and doesn't show HD content. This is odd since the iPlayer that comes with the Sony BDV players is not Beta, operates faster than the Bravia and does contain HD.





You don't mention Picasa which is new and works well. On the first visit you login to your Picasa web albums and it shows the first 36 albums as tiles - which meant a little Picasa maintenance for me since I had many more than 36 albums on the web. The quality is really excellent. It is the first photo app, including connecting a PC direct to the TV, (that I've seen) that makes my pics watchable on a big (46") screen. To maintain quality the app does not expand the photo to fill the screen which means you need to store your web albums at the higher resolution to fill the screen. Nice one Sony.

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