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The PS4's revamped streaming services are no replacement for Netflix or Spotify

Evan Dashevsky | Nov. 15, 2013
They're not bad services, but they won't have anyone dropping their existing subscriptions.

The Music Unlimited may offer a nice additional functionality to the PS4 experience, however if users are already firmly entrenched in the Spotify or iTunes ecosystems, it may be just as easy to allow your laptop to provide your gaming soundtrack.

Video Unlimited
Sony is taking a slightly different approach for its Video Unlimited (VU) streaming service. Unlike the music service, VU will be available a la carte rather than buffet style. Also, the VU service will compete directly with other established streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu Plus, which are also available on the PS4.

VU's prices are on par with other established services: around $4 to rent a SD film and $5 for an HD (or $15 to purchase), while TV episodes are roughly $2 for SD and $3 for HD.

However, unlike other a-la-carte video streaming services, VU does not currently allow users to purchase bundled seasons of TV shows, though the company promises that that ability will come in the first half of next year.

Another shortfall for VU is the fact that it is currently only available within the Sony ecosystem through the PS4 or other PlayStation Portable devices, on Sony TVs, or through Sony's Media Go for Windows client. However, the company promises that it will offer web playback within the next six months.

VU offers a very Netflix-like scene-search interface and, like Netflix, will drop the streaming quality of the content before it re-buffers.

The execs in charge of VU's development were quick to point out the quickness with which content loaded. And, to be sure, the films on VU appeared to load quicker than Netflix, but only by a matter of seconds if that's important to you.

(We should also note that I had access to the PS4 system in a very controlled environment).

While the inclusion of competing established video services will make the PS4 a better home companion for consumers, it will probably also relegate Video Unlimited to be some also-ran piece of console bloatware.

If the PS4 is the smash hit everyone expects, Sony has a real opportunity to step into the streaming-media game. However, as the duo of services are now, their limited ecosystem will probably make them little more than something gamers' eyeballs quickly ignore on their way to play Call of Duty.

 

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