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Eye on Demand | April 25, 2017

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PS4 for Media Services Review

PS4 for Media Services Review

Review Overview

Value For Money
6.5
User Interface
6.5
Availability and Quality of Services
7
6.7

Mix & Match Apps!

It may be one of the hottest selling gaming consoles on the market right now, and it may not push its media services as heavily as the new Xbox One, but the PlayStation 4 could just have enough IPTV tricks up its sleeve that may just just make it the killer console.

Anyone who has any connection to the gaming world would be well and truly aware of the battle of the new consoles, with Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 hitting the shelves last November. Gaming aside, the Xbox One claims to be the full all-in-one home entertainment center, a crown Sony haven’t really been pursuing so loudly.

But how good is the new PlayStation when it comes to media services, and is it really so far behind the Xbox One? Or on the other hand, are we looking at the quiet achiever – a secret home entertainment and media center every bit as good as the box from Microsoft?

If you are after a review of the PlayStation 4 for gaming, you’ve stumbled across the wrong website. There are a million reviews out there dissecting and analyzing the gaming side of this device, but very few that concentrate on the media features. So, if you’re currently sitting on the fence and can’t make up your mind, perhaps this review (or that for the Xbox One) could persuade you in one direction or the other.

The PS4 may not sport the cutting-edge futuresque features of the Xbox One, with voice recognition and motion detection built-in as standard, nor does it care for any HDMI pass-through hype, but it does come in at a good hundred dollars/euros less than the Microsoft console at US$399, €399 or £349. This is mainly because the PlayStation version of the Kinect is an optional extra, but the very fact it is not standard will most likely mean few services will make use of it on this platform anyway.

 

  • The PS4 may not be as cozy and cute as the Apple TV or Roku pucks, but then again, with so much juice swirling around inside, it wouldn’t have been quite so easy to pack all that power into such a small form factor.

    That said, it’s not the 2001 Space Odyssey monolith that the Xbox One is either. In fact, while we’re comparing the console to its major rival, the PS4 is not half as ugly, and was thoughtful enough to include the power-supply inside its comparatively small enclosure.

    The box itself measures up to approximately 275 x 53 x 305 mm, or in old money 10.82″ x 2.08″ x 12″ and unlike the Microsoft breeze-block, it can be placed standing on its side – although Sony recommend an additional stand for stability which is not included in the price. The downsides to vertical placement are slightly increased noise levels when using the optical drive, higher running temperatures due to one air-vent being blocked and the potential of tipping it over.

    PS4 Dimensions

    As well as being built-in to the main enclosure, the power supply is also rated for 100-240v input, meaning the only thing that will need to change if you move this box around the world, is the power plug at the end. If the plug doesn’t fit into your wall socket, do it properly by buying a quality adapter or having an experienced person replace the plug to local electrical standards. I know this may sound obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many idiots just bend prongs around to try and force foreign plugs into local sockets.

    The following ports are located on the PlayStation 4:

    • AC Power cable.
    • USB 3.0 ports: (one port on the rear, two USB ports on the front).
    • HDMI out: (To TV).
    • S/PDIF: (Optical audio output).
    • Ethernet (Networking).

    One thing seriously missing here is an IR receiver, which means there is no easy way to add the PS4 to your Logitech Harmony or similar remote.

    PS4 rear

    Finally, if you have trouble finding the power button on the console, you wont be alone. Sony have done a stellar job in hiding the button. If you look extremely carefully at the join between the glossy and matte fascia plates, you may spot a tiny power and eject symbol. Simply touch the power symbol to fire up the device. Alternatively, once you have paired your controller, you can just press the PS button to start up the PlayStation 4.

    PS4 Power b

    Physical Pros:

    • Not too large
    • Includes Power Supply in chassis.
    • Universal Power Supply Included.
    • Front facing USB port.
    • Can be mounted horizontally or vertically.
    • Reasonably attractive.

    Physical Cons:

    • No IR port for easy universal remote control use.
    • Can be a fingerprint magnet.
    • Touch power button is not terribly clear.

    Unblocking geographic restrictions on this device is supported by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • If exclusive games, the cheaper price or the slight performance score are not enough to persuade buyers to choose the PS4 over the Xbox One, it may not be the media services either – at least not in the beginning.

    The Xbox One significantly betters the PlayStation 4 for launch-day streaming apps, with a considerably larger selection available. In fact, some countries are selling the PS4 with virtually nothing worthwhile available yet. But at least the US and especially the UK have a reasonable day-one offering.

    In fact for UK buyers, the PS4 has the advantage that the BBC iPlayer is available from launch, something oddly missing from the Xbox One. This was quite a significant omission on Microsoft’s behalf, since the iPlayer is probably the most important and widely available FTA catch-up service in the world today. Congratulations on the PS4 for including it.

    Another major advantage to the PlayStation is that their premium subscription service (PlayStation Plus membership) is not needed to access streaming television content, something Xbox users are not so lucky to enjoy. This could be said that this was a wise move by Sony, but since no other major platforms except Microsoft charges their users to access otherwise free content, then it really is more or less a very poor decision by the guys from Redmond.

    Even though the current services available on the PlayStation 4 may be small, it does have a rather impressive trump card up its sleeve – the ability to mix and match apps from multiple countries. Once additional regional accounts are set up for the PlayStation, you can easily switch between them and install the various apps from different countries which interest you – without even the need to reboot the console.

    The installed apps will remain when you switch accounts, and as long as you have an appropriate Smart DNS service, you can enjoy BBC’s iPlayer alongside Hulu Plus.

    Available Entertainment App Pros:

    • Can mix and match apps from multiple regions.
    • Easy to switch accounts to add apps.
    • Apps are extremely responsive and fluid.

    Available Entertainment App Cons:

    • DualShock Controller sleeps during a film and requires two hands.
    • Not a lot of apps to start with.

    Click on a link below for a review of the selected service on the PlayStation 4:

    BBC iPlayerBBC Sport buttonDemand5

     

    Amazon PrimeWatcheverHulu

     

    Netflix

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Check out the list below for entertainment apps currently available in selected regions.

    United Kingdom:

    • BBC iPlayer
    • BBC Sports (and BBC News)
    • Demand 5
    • Lovefilm
    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • Video Unlimited
    • IGN
    • Vidzone
    • Now TV

    United States:

    • Netflix
    • Hulu Plus
    • Amazon Instant Prime Video
    • Crackle
    • Crunchyroll
    • Epix
    • IGN
    • Video Unlimited
    • Music Unlimited
    • NBA Game Time
    • NHL Game Center
    • Redbox Instant
    • VidZone
    • Vudu
    • YuppTV

    Ireland:

    • Netflix
    • Quickflix
    • VidZone
    • Music Unlimited
    • IGN

    Australia:

    • Quickflix
    • SBS On Demand
    • VidZone
    • Music Unlimited
    • Video Unlimited
    • IGN

    New Zealand:

    • Quickflix
    • VidZone
    • Music Unlimited
    • IGN

    Canada:

    • Netflix
    • Crunchyroll
    • Crackle
    • NHL Game Center
    • IGN
    • Music Unlimited
    • Video Unlimited

    Germany:

    • Watchever
    • Lovefilm (DE)
    • Music Unlimited
    • Video Unlimited
    • IGN
    • VidZone
    • Maxdome

    Denmark:

    • Viaplay
    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • IGN
    • VidZone

    Finland:

    • Viaplay
    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • VidZone

    Norway:

    • Viaplay
    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • IGN
    • VidZone

    Sweden:

    • Viaplay
    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • VidZone

    Netherlands:

    • Netflix
    • Music Unlimited
    • IGN
    • VidZone
    • NOS Sports
    • Ximon

    Spain:

    • Wuaki.tv
    • Music Unlimited
    • Video Unlimited
    • IGN
    • VidZone
    • Total Channel

     

    Unblocking geographic restrictions on this device is supported by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • The PlayStation’s user interface is a tad more complex than found on the Xbox One, which is not to say it will confuse anyone for too long. But it is still a bit more convoluted and confusing than it should be.

    Essentially, the home screen is divided into two different sections:

    Function Area

    The Function area lies at the top and this is where you will see new notifications and which of your friends are online. There are a also a number of icons which can provide further information or the ability to change settings or control actions. These may include the PlayStation Store, Notifications, Friends, Messages, Party, Profile, Trophies, Settings and Power options.

    Regarding media center use, the following may be of interest.

    PlayStation Store: Here you should find all the apps currently available in your region, although many of these apps can also be found also in the Content Area (See below). Download and install the apps which interest you, whether that is the BBC iPlayer or Hulu Plus etc, depending on your region.

    Profile: Here you can control various details about your profile, including privacy settings. Very important if you don’t want your drinking buddies to find out your secret passion for the X-Factor.

    Settings: Vital if you wish to configure important settings such as DNS servers etc.

    Power: Surprisingly useful, not only to shut the device down, but also to access alternative regional accounts to install additional streaming apps. (see Global tab for more info)

     

    Content Area

    The Content Area sits below the Function pane and offers a list of content you have used, in the order last employed. Starting with What’s New, you may also find tabs for TV&Video, the Internet browser, any games played, the Play Room, Video’s and Music, PlayStation Live and the Library which contains all the installed apps from the current region.

    This may sound and look rather good in the beginning, but if you install a lot of games, the line becomes quite long indeed, and finding content will eventually become more difficult. Unfortunately, there is no way yet to manage this line once it becomes too cluttered.

    Naturally the TV & Video section would be the most useful here, which lists the currently available IPTV streaming apps. This will even include apps previously installed from other regions (see Global tab), as well as apps available to download – though keep in mind only apps from the current region can be downloaded here.

     

    Accessing everything is simple enough via the controller, although voice control is also technically possible with the included headset. Still, outside of gaming, would anyone really don a headset just to talk to their PlayStation? Unlike the Xbox One’s included Kinect system, voice control isn’t as widely available as a standard feature.

    Tip: You can exit an application and game without loosing your current session, if you wanted for instance to change an audio or display setting – double clicking the PS button will instantly switch you between the currently playing game or app and the PlayStation Home screen without any delay.

     

    Sharing:

    You can share screenshots and up to 15 minutes of video with friends via Facebook and Twitter by pressing the Share button on the controller:

    Press and hold to take a screenshot, or double press for a video, then press the Share button once to go to the Share Menu where you can send it to others. It does seem a bit buggy at the moment, with error messages often occurring when trying to enter the Share Menu, as well as unintentional screenshots being recorded. But the most annoying part is that deleting screenshots and videos requires finding a different hidden menu: Settings > System Storage Management > Captures > and then selecting the files you wish to delete. This is a far better menu than the normal sharing one, but unfortunately you can not actually share screenshots and videos from here.

    UI Pros:

    • Clean user interface.
    • Easy return to home via the controllers PS button.
    • Can mix and match apps from different regional accounts.
    • Most recently used content drifts to the front of the Content Area line.
    • Fast and responsive.
    • Instant toggling between Home, games and active apps.

    UI Cons:

    • Can feel a little cluttered and confusing at times.
    • Confusing & convoluted hierarchy of menu items.
    • Content Area can become too long after many items are installed.
    • No way to manage Content Area.

     

     

  • PS4 Controller 3

    PlayStation’s updated controller, the DualShock 4 has already been described by many as the best Sony has yet made. A great deal of improvements have been implemented to fix mistakes and issues in the design of the DualShock 3, including separating the analogue sticks further and adding dimples to prevent slippage, along with improved ergonomics.

    A glowing blue light on the front of the controller indicates the primary connected player, and changes colour based on the order it is synced to the console (Blue, red, green and pink – the PlayStation symbol buttons anti-clockwise). Games and applications can be designed to control the lamp, but it also indicates when the controller is charging.

    Sony have somehow managed to fit a touch-pad between the directional and control buttons, without causing any clutter. This touch-pad, with a resolution of 1920×900 also sports a two-point clickable button.Theoretically, you will be able to zoom, swipe, pinch, and scroll depending on application. But in what could possibly be one of the most amazing lapses of thought in product design, the touch-pad cannot be used with the web browser – possibly the single most useful application for this feature. Hopefully this is only because Sony’s development team couldn’t perfect the implementation fully before launch, and it will appear in the not to distant future.

    PS4 Controller dia

    The innovations keep coming with a tiny speaker also included in the controller, which places selected sounds closer to the user. Games will benefit more from this, such as weapons changing, but applications could be found for IPTV streaming use in the near future.

    The DualShock 4, although a tad awkward for controlling a video stream when compared to a good old-fashioned remote, still has a few advantages over the Xbox One version, most notably the single button action required to pause a show – simply press X. The Xbox One requires a double action to pause, which is a tad annoying at times.

    It’s not all grassy banks and sunshine though. Unlike the Xbox One which runs off standard AA batteries (perfect with rechargeables), the DualShock 4 has a non-removable lithium-ion battery and a juice-life that my own tests averaged around 10hours of basic usage. Hardcore gamers have seen this reduce to a mere 4-5 hours. Of course, this is greatly increased during streaming activities, but it is very unlikely the US$399 PS4 will solely be used for Netflix.

    Culprits are all the additional extras, such as the touch-pad, speaker and most of all, the big glowing cyclops eye at the front.

    Leaving the controller plugged into the USB port of your PlayStation will charge it, and this should take approximately two hours from a fully drained battery.

    Interesting enough, the DualShock 4 can also be connected to a PC or Mac via USB or Bluetooth, although I haven’t tested this out myself.

    Tip: Did you know the new DualShock 4 controller has gyroscopic control? Press R3 (that’s the button hidden inside the right analogue stick) and you can wiggle the controller around to type in text.

    Controller Pros:

    • Great new ergonomic design.
    • Innovative touch-pad which has great potential.
    • Speaker included in controller.
    • Well placed PS button.
    • DualShock vibrators.
    • PS button can power up PlayStation.
    • Combined wireless or wired use.
    • Motion detection.
    • Single pres of the X button to pause/play.

    Controller Cons:

    • Non replaceable batteries.
    • approx 10hr battery life much shorter than promoted.
    • Short USB cable included for charging.
    • Touch-Pad not used in browser!
    • Requires a two handed operation for controlling streaming content.
    • Controller can fall asleep during film or TV show.

    PS4 controller 2

    PS4 controller 1

  • Second Screen possibilities are endless with consoles like the PlayStation 4, and working alongside media services they have the potential to make great partnerships. Sony have taken this into consideration by offering two main ways to connect to the PS4 via second-screen.

    The first utilizes the PlayStation Vita, but if you don’t own one of those you can also use a free app for Android or iOS. In the somewhat annoying fashion that seems to hint the PS4 was rushed out to compete with the Xbox One launch, the iOS version has only arrived for the iPhone or iPod Touch. There is no dedicated iPad version yet, which is probably where it would work at its finest.

    Some inane things you can do with the second-screen app include:

    • Keep track of what your friends are playing, chat with them, compare trophies, and view your profile or recent activity.
    • Browse the PlayStation store, buy games, apps and add-ons, then push them to your PS4.
    • Access PlayStation guides, manuals, and the official PlayStation blog.

    I could do a list right now of what it can’t do, but that would just be too long. So, here are a few things which it does sort of do, but fails miserably.

    • Touch-screen remote: The second-screen app completely misses out on one of the most useful features it could possibly have – a basic media center remote. After-all, the developers “forgot” to include an infrared receiver, denying most if not all universal remotes. But, the included touch-pad which is the closest Sony have provided us with a remote is as useful as an inflatable dart board.
    • Virtual Keyboard: Thankfully this does exist, but don’t think for a moment it will automatically pop up when you need it most. No, of course not. Like an Ikea customer, you will have to do most of the work yourself by navigating to it and firing it up, which can be quite a pain from the home screen, enough so that most people won’t even bother. That and the fact it doesn’t actually work where you may need it most, such as 3rd party apps like Netflix when searching or entering log-in details.

    That said, there are no dedicated second-screen functions for 3rd party entertainment apps either. Nothing that could make searching or browsing easier, nor social networking more fun. Hopefully that will all come in the future.

    Second Screen Pros:

    • Has plenty of potential.

    Second Screen Cons:

    • No ability to stream videos to PlayStation (as Roku and some Smart TVs can do).
    • Doesn’t offer a proper virtual remote.
    • No iPad App currently available.
    • Won’t swap accounts automatically when you do so on the console.
    • Doesn’t always automatically connect to the PlayStation 4.
    • Remote “touch-pad” is as good as useless.
    • Virtual keyboard won’t automatically pop up.
    • Virtual keyboard doesn’t work on many 3rd party apps (e.g. Netflix searches)
    • Constantly disconnects on iOS when iPhone goes to sleep.

     

  • Generally speaking, browsers on anything but a computer or touchscreen tablet are more horrible than most humans can possibly imagine. Navigation is in many cases, so painfully awkward and slow that 5% of hairless globally has been attributed to users trying to surf directly on a Smart TV’s browser or Android HDMI stick*.

    The main problem is that missing a mouse, touch-screen or touch-pad, the movements required are just too cumbersome and gauche to successfully access the pages viewed.

    It just so happens, the PlayStation 4 designers added an actual touch-pad on to to the DualShock 4 controller itself! How amazing is that!

    Well, except the design and development teams must have missed the meeting to discuss implementing it for the web browser, as it doesn’t actually work. Instead, users must navigate via a combination of the analogue sticks, D-pad and many of the various buttons surrounding them, and to be honest, this is one of the finest implementations I have seen for any browser without a proper input device – well, second to the Xbox One.

    Don’t get me wrong. It is still terribly limited compared to using a proper mouse/touch-pad/touch-screen and keyboard combination, but it is one of the better navigation methods out there, that is, if you can remember all the possible key-combinations required…

    PS4 Controller Browser

    Of course, the next hurdle would be the lack of FLASH support. Whether we like it or not, FLASH is rarely supported outside of Windows or Mac browsers these days, and the PlayStation 4 is no rebel here. The problem is, most video websites have still failed to convert their content to HTML5 – the new industry standard. That said, a few trailblazers offer HTML5 versions so at least these will work on the PS4.

    Wrong again. Even many websites that offer HTML5 alternatives, have their streams still directed to the FLASH versions which will not work on the PlayStation 4 browser. My own tests showed that the vast majority of major streaming websites fail as can be seen below. Only FilmOn, USTVNow, YouTube and PBS Video correctly found the HTML5 streams and began playback. Not a great score for the PlayStation 4 browser here, especially due to the lack of dedicated apps.

    Web tests PlayStation 4.xlsx

    So, at the end of the day, we have a console browser that a) has a touch-pad, but doesn’t use it and b) won’t play content from most of the important video sites and c) crashes a little too often for my liking.

    Browser Pros:

    • Better than most non touch-pad, mouse or touch-screen browsers.
    • Virtual keyboard can sometimes remember previously used words and user names.
    • Can use the gyroscopic feature of the DualShock 4 to control the virtual keyboard.

    Browser Cons:

    • No FLASH.
    • Even HTML5 sites rarely work as they default to FLASH.
    • Touch-pad is oddly not used.
    • Bugs causing crashes and memory errors.
    • Virtual keyboard often doesn’t remember previously used words and user names.

     

    *Seriously, no study has ever been done to attribute 5% of hair-loss to poor web browsers, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was.

    Unblocking geographic restrictions on this device is supported by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • It wasn’t that long ago when Canadian philosopher of communication theory, Marshall McLuhan, coined the phrase “Global Village”, but it was a few decades later that it truly became a reality. Today we live in a world where we talk and communicate with people from every possible corner, nearly every day – and often we are not even aware of it.

    This very website alone has registered visits from every country in the world, except North Korea. Readers have arrived from places like Cuba, Tonga and my favourite use of the letter Y, Kyrgyzstan. The world as we know it today is so different from a mere 20 years ago when the term global village was also very much in use. Then, international phone calls were prohibitively expensive, radio was limited to local areas and people still used Post Restante.

    Try to explain to someone then that they could listen to any radio station, anywhere in the world, that they could video-phone their loved ones on the other side of the planet for free, that international mail didn’t take weeks, but seconds with the electronic version and was also free, and do you think the average person would believe you? We haven’t even begun talking about the Internet, social media, dogs sitting on robotic vacuum cleaners and aliens being teleported through miniature worm holes in CERN yet!

    About the only thing that has resisted global change are the big television companies that still geoblock their services to traditional boundaries – which to be honest have fallen in almost everyone else’s minds other than the TV industry.

    Global banner

    However, even this must change in our global world, and if you need more evidence, look no further than the two latest gaming consoles, the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Both have turned traditional rules of regional boundaries upside down by not actually having any in place.

    The PlayStation 4 allows users to install entertainment apps from any part of the world, and sit them alongside each other as if the world was as united as a certain John Lennon song. The BBC iPlayer app from the UK happily sits right next to Hulu Plus from the US. Watchever from Germany will have no issues with Netflix from the Netherlands. All of them can be installed on your PS4 allowing you to choose what services you may want from which country.

    The catch is that the television content providers have still licensed their material for specific regions, falling hard onto traditions that started off in a very different world back in the 1950s, and although there are signs even this is slowly changing, the speed it does so will certainly not win any races.

    On the surface, this doesn’t make life easy for expats wanting to catch up on what they miss from their home country, whilst still enjoying local content where they currently live. But thanks to Smart DNS services, such as offered by OverPlay, this is now easily possible. A Smart DNS service will unblock selected content, allowing access from almost anywhere in the world (bandwidth permitting) and is far more useful in situations like the PlayStation 4 than a VPN, as it doesn’t force a tunnel directly to another single country.

    What you need to do:

    Essentially, to add apps from different regions around the world, you will need an account for each region. This is a little time consuming to set up, and you will need a separate email address for each region, but once you have created these accounts and configured them in your PlayStation 4, the difficult part is over. Switching between accounts is a complete breeze, and you only need to switch when you wish to install new content from each region.

    My tip is to have a single, main account which you do pretty much everything in, and only use the regional accounts to add new apps.

    You will also need a Smart DNS service such as the one provided by OverPlay, otherwise many of the entertainment apps in other regions are blocked.

    How to set up an account for your region of choice:

    Basically, this is identical to how you set up your PlayStation Network (PSN) account for your current region. You just state a different country.

    If you are in a country where the language is not your native tongue and you find it difficult to negotiate, I recommend performing the first steps as shown below from a website. This way, you can choose your native country and its language which may be easier.

    Note: The PS4 allows up to 16 profiles to exist on the system.

     

    Step 1:

    Go to your local PlayStation Network webpage, or the page of the country you wish to join, it doesn’t matter. i.e. http://uk.playstation.com/psn/

    Then select “Sign Up” at the top of the screen and hit the “Sign Up Now” button to begin.

    Step 1

     

    Step 2:

    As you want to create a new account here, select this option.

    Step 2

     

    Step 3:

    Fill out the fields on the next screen. You will need a different email address than any previously used at the PlayStation Network.

    The key however is to change the country here to the one you want. When finished, press “I Agree. Create My Account”

    Step 3

     

    Step 4:

    You must now fill out the four fields here under the Update Account section, then press Continue when done.

    Step 4

     

    Step 5:

    You don’t need to fill in any more information here unless you want to. If you wish to add an address, billing information etc, do so by following this form. However, if you only wish to download free entertainment apps from the different region, simply press Cancel.

    (You can ignore the message the comes afterwards asking you to update your account on the computer)

    Step 5

     

    Step 6:

    Now that the computer part is done, fire up the PlayStation 4 and at the log-in screen, select New User as shown below.

    Step 6

     

    Step 7:

    It is recommended to Create a User here, so you can easily return to add new apps when they become available.

    Step 7

     

    Step 8:

    If you accept Sony’s terms and agreements, hit Accept. This is required to continue.

    Step 8

     

    Step 9:

    Here, Sony asks if you want to link an Entertainment Network account, and in this case the answer is Yes (choose Next), as you want to link the account you created on the computer from step 1.

    Step 9

     

    Step 10:

    Enter the email address and password you created in Step 3, then select Sign In.

    Step 10

     

    Step 11:

    Press OK at the next screen to begin the account update process, then enter your Online ID, first and last name. This is required. (You can also add an icon here if you like by clicking the smiley face)

    Press Next when complete.

    Step 11

     

    Step 12:

    You must now follow a series of steps regarding your own privacy settings and preferences. What you choose here does not affect the ability to install apps from different countries.

     

    Step 13:

    When the profile and privacy settings mentioned above are complete, you will be presented with this screen. Enter the basic location information based on the region you are interested in. Details will vary depending on the country you have chosen. Press Next when complete.

    Step 13

     

    Step 14:

    Press “Do This Later” unless you really want to log into Facebook with this regional account.

    Step 14

     

    Step 15:

    Sony will now try and convince you to join PlayStation Plus. This is the premium subscription service with an annual fee, and although it may certainly be desirable for gaming on your main account, you do no need this for the new account if you simply want to add free Entertainment apps from the new region. Press Next, then on the next page press Skip.

     

    Step 16:

    Finally, press Activate to set up the current PlayStation 4 with this new account.

    Step 16

     

    Phew… and that’s it. A new PlayStation Network account is created for the region of your choice and activated on the PS4. It is now possible to immediately download the apps which are only available in this region. Apps installed from other regions will not be deleted.

    Note: Apps that are available in multiple regions (e.g. Netflix) may also appear as a separately available download. It is not necessary to download these apps again.

     

    How to switch between regional accounts.

    If you thought it was rather complicated to created new accounts in different regions, you may find those who agree with you. But once they have been created, there is no need to go through anywhere near as much trouble switching between them.

    Step 1:

    On the Function Area, select Power.

     

    Step 2:

    Select Log Out of PS4

     

    Step 3:

    Press the PS button, then select the account (region) you wish to log in with.

     

     

    Unblocking geographic restrictions on this device is supported by the following Smart DNS providers:

    [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”19173″]

  • All this exciting stuff doesn’t come without a few serious gotcha’s.

    Even though Sony have played down the media-center status of the PS4, it strangely lacks quite a few serious and somewhat expected features that should have been included never-the-less:

    No Infrared port.

    How on earth did Sony consider leaving this one out? Sure, their DualShock 4 is a nice and pleasant enough controlling device and perfect for gaming, but the two handed approach is a little cumbersome for simply pausing or controlling video playback. Many people own complex and fantastic universal remotes such as the Logitech Harmony, but there are no easy methods to get this to work with the Sony PlayStation.

    What on earth was Sony thinking here? An infrared receiver would have cost them next to nothing to install on the front of the box. Logitech have stated they are looking into ways to provide some way to the control the device from their universal remotes, but it would most likely need cooperation with Sony to achieve, something we shouldn’t hold our breath too long in waiting.

     

    The PS4 can’t Play CDs or MP3s.

    No, you didn’t read wrong. Despite the Blu-Ray player built in, which is normally backward compatible with DVD’s through to CDs, Sony have opted to not support basic CD playback. Some suggest this is a way Sony can force users to only use their own music services, but the likelihood is that this will come in the future. Well, in all fairness I have long since moved from playing physical CDs, but since the PS4 won’t even play mp3s, there is currently no way this console can play any of my personal music.

     

    No NAS or external storage services.

    So you have a pile of films, TV shows or music you legally own stored on your NAS (Network Attached Storage). It would only be natural that the PlayStation should be able to access this? At the moment, No. The PS4 does not support DLNA, cutting off access to your owned, personal content. There is of course no reason why Sony should prevent this, and apps for this may very well become available in the near future. But as the box stands today, it is simply not possible. In fact, the PS4 doesn’t allow any form of external storage access, which includes connecting a USB thumbstick filled with photos.

    As with CD playback, there are various reasons thrown around the Internet, but most of them fall right into the conspiracy theory camp. In reality, it is a lot less exciting. The PlayStation needed to be rushed out the door to meet the launch date set in November so that it could compete with the Xbox One, and as PlayStation Studios boss Shuhei Yoshida has stated, this required concentrating first and foremost on its gaming capabilities. Sony were quite surprised at how seriously the public has taken to the lack of personal media support and have declared that they now have teams both in Japan and the US working on these issues right now.

     

     

  • There are countless options to stream television to our televisions these days, but only a few of them allow apps from multiple regions to be combined. Here is a short run down of the best.

    The Xbox One:

    If you are looking for an all-in-one media center, the Xbox One could very well be the best up for the task.

    For a start, like the PlayStation 4, it allows apps from different regions to be easily mixed onto the single hub, and in the Xbox One’s case, without the need of multiple accounts (Naturally, a Smart DNS service is required to access otherwise regionally-blocked content). On top of that, you can even pin your favourite shows directly to the home screen as well, allowing direct access, regardless of the app or service required to watch it.

    And the Xbox One launched with considerably more entertainment apps than the PlayStation 4, although whether that lead lasts, nobody knows. Entertainment apps include Netflix, Hulu Plus, Crackle, Amazon Instant Prime Video, Amazon Prime, Demand 5, All 4, tenplay, SBS on Demand, Zattoo and plenty more. However, notably missing from the list are any public broadcaster’s catch-up services, especially that of the BBC’s iPlayer which screams its absence at full volume.

    The Xbox One can also be controlled by motion gestures and voice, the former of which is currently little more than a joke, but the latter has rather useful applications.

    One the downside (there always are some), the Xbox One does cost a good US$100 more than the PS4, which basically pays for the compulsory Kinect motion detector and camera, as well as (and wait for this) a yearly subscription fee is required to access otherwise free on-demand content. Yes, you have to pay to watch television that every other IPTV platform offers entirely free and much of which was traditionally available through a bent coat-hanger.

    In any event, check out the full review here!

    Xbox One UI Pins

    Samsung TV Smart Hub:

    Both the ES and F series Samsung TVs can not only change the regional app store at will, but they also have the ability to merge apps from different regions onto the single hub. In theory, this makes an amazing media center as the BBC iPlayer from the UK can sit alongside ABC iView from Australia, TVNZ On Demand from New Zealand can work alongside Hulu Plus or Netflix from the US – all of course as long as you also have a Smart DNS supplier like OverPlay who supports the Samsung platform.

    Currently the Samsung Smart Hub offers a lot more catch-up and on-demand apps than the Xbox One, especially on the F-series, including vital services like the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, ABC iView, PBS Video etc.

    But it’s unfortunately not all a bed of roses. Granted, the apps can be merged and when they are they work really well together, but unlike the Xbox One it is using a backdoor hack that is not for the faint-hearted. First users need to change country stores whose methods differ for the ES-series or the F-series (which is the easy bit). Then, the complex procedure comes into play, which again differs between the older ES-series and the current F-series.

    Once it is all working together, users will still need to check for updates every now and again by repeating the process, as only the current regional store is automatically updated – a problem not experienced with the Xbox One.

    And sadly, the hack to merge apps from multiple regions is only applicable to the Samsung Smart TVs and not their Blu-Ray players which can only have their app store changed, but not merged.

    Samsung TV

    iOS (iPad, iPhone):

    A much easier platform to achieve this would be on iOS. Like the Xbox One, iOS is happy to allow users to change regional stores, where they can pick up apps normally only available in that region and install them. iOS is more than happy to mix apps like this and as long as a Smart DNS service is also configured such as OverPlay, that supports the iOS apps you want to use, all of the apps will happily play regardless of your location.

    One big advantage to iOS is that it offers one of the largest ranges of on-demand and catch-up apps anywhere, with almost all of the big players represented. If it is available to stream, it is generally on iOS and usually with an amazing UI. BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, ABC iView, TVNZ ondemand and pretty much everything else can be found here, with some like the BBC iPlayer and others also offering live streams and offline downloads as well.

    Add AirPlay into the occasion, and you can also watch all of this in great video quality on your main television. It’s almost too good to be true.

    The main issue would be that not all services support AirPlay. Some like All 4 and TVNZ out-rightly block it. Others like Demand 5 or most US OTA services only allow mirroring, which is almost as useful as blocking. Without the ability to send to your main TV, iOS does not appear so attractive after-all. It is such a pity, as it is clear when services employ full AirPlay such as the BBC’s iPlayer, it can be one of the best user interfaces around.

    Secondly, some services provide a reduced quality service for iOS. Even the BBC iPlayer sticks to SD quality streams only, but some go below that for the iPhone or iPod touch. This may seem logical to them as the screen is far too small for full HD streams to have any benefit, but if they do offer AirPlay, this can look pretty unattractive on the big screen.

    Finally, unlike the Xbox One which updates all apps, regardless of which region you are currently in, iOS will not do so for region specific ones. You will have to log into one of your other iTunes accounts every now and again to check for updates. Not a big deal, but a bit of a hassle still.

    iPad

     

  • How to Buy

    The chances are, you can buy the Playstation 4 from almost any shop in the area where you live. However, if you were considering to purchase from one of the Amazon stores highlighted below, using these links will lead you directly to the official Amazon store, but help support Eye on-Demand at the same time.

    Flag US Small

    To buy a PlayStation 4 from Amazon USA, click here to see what deals are currently available.

     

    Flag UK Small

    For Amazon UK customers, click here to see what British deals Amazon have going.

     

     

    German Flag

    German Amazon customers can click here for the latest deals on offer in that country.

     

  • Quite simply, the PlayStation 4 is an amazing gaming console which has a rather surprising trump card up its sleeve. Sony have not been pushing the platform as an all-in-one home media center as loudly as Microsoft have their Xbox One, but in many ways it is as good an entertainment center as the main competition. Granted, it lacks the comprehensive voice control and other novelty features that come as standard on the Xbox One. It doesn’t have the HDMI pass-through (which has yet to make its full impact felt anyway) and as an unforgivable lack of foresight, it doesn’t even sport an infrared receiver.

    But the PlayStation 4 does share with the Xbox One a rather killer feature regarding the consoles entertainment services.

    And that’s why the PS4 scored so well in Availability and Quality of Services when so few apps are actually available right now. It’s the global potential that excites us the most here. Granted, at launch the PS4 doesn’t offer the widest range of content for any country. In fact, most countries have almost nothing worthwhile yet available. But with the ease of mixing and matching apps from different regions – albeit with a compatible Smart DNS service to get it all working – the range of available services increases dramatically.

    Wait a few months and we should see a vast range of entertainment apps appearing in a gradual roll-out.

    The apps work great on this platform, no less thanks to the enormous amount of horsepower under the hood. This is one powerful STB, which may be an overkill for entertainment services, but needed for the amazing games that will churn out for the platform. That extra power may not be needed, but it does result in a smooth, fluid and highly response UI allowing the navigation of streaming services to be fast and enjoyable.

    The PS4 comes in at a hundred dollars less than the Xbox One, but if all that voice and gesture control is not your cup of tea, and you don’t want your gaming console and the NSA watching and listening to you 24/7, in the dark, and measuring your heartbeat, then maybe that extra US$100 in your pocket won’t result in any real loss at all.

    Pros:

    • Fantastic ability to mix and match apps from different regions.
    • Excellent and well designed DualShock 4 controller.
    • Entertainment apps work fluidly and are highly responsive.
    • Fast and powerful with a lot of grunt under the hood.
    • Already includes the BBC iPlayer, Netflix, Lovefilm/Amazon Instant Prime Video and Hulu Plus amongst others.
    • No premium subscription pass required to access Entertainment apps (unlike the Xbox).

    Cons:

    • No ability to switch on/off TV from controller via HDMI unless it is a selected Sony model.
    • No infrared receiver.
    • Controller falls asleep during film playback.
    • Controller battery not replaceable and can run dry quickly.
    • Can’t play CDs or MP3s.
    • Won’t stream from NAS or DLNA servers.
    • USB port cannot connect to external storage.
    • Touch-pad doesn’t work with the browser.
    • Browser won’t play FLASH and most important streaming websites won’t play back.
    • Limited selection of entertainment apps at launch.
    • UI can be a little confusing.
    • Second-screen functions incredibly limited.

    Specifications:

    • Optical Drive: Blu-Ray, DVD.
    • RAM: 8GB GDDR5, Clock: 5500MHz.
    • CPU: 8 Core AMD custom CPU Frequency: 1.6 Ghz on a 2.75 Ghz capable chip.
    • GPU: 800 MHz AMD Radeon.
    • Storage: 500 GB user-replaceable HD.
    • Backwards Compatibility: No (not yet anyway).
    • Ports: Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz only), Ethernet, 3 × USB 3.0 (One is Aux), HDMI out, S/PDIF out, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
    • SD + HD output at 720p, 1080p and 1080i (no 4K at launch, although technically possible).

     

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    Log:

    10.01.2014: Review published. Score 6.7 – Mix & Match Apps!

    13.01.2014: Added links to BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport reviews.

    14.01.2014: Added links to Demand 5 review

     

    Photos and images of the PS4 and screenshots are property of Sony.

     

Comments

  1. Kieran Bresnan

    Animax is a new VOD player launched on PS4 last week. (Uk only)