Unboxed: Sony Play TV

After a year long wait since it was first announced, Sony's Play TV finally arrived on our desk today. And while it was tempting just to sit and watch

After a year long wait since it was first announced, Sony's Play TV finally arrived on our desk today. And while it was tempting just to sit and watch the Olympics all afternoon, we did have a poke around the PS3's telly recording add-on to give you this first look.

If we had a Stuff award for 'most underwhelming piece of hardware design', the Play TV box would be a tough to beat – it's a feather-light, plastic box with an aerial port, USB port and 'on' light, and doesn't even bother with the PS3's glossy laminate finish. Still, at least it has two tuners for watching one show while recording another (though not recording two live channels simultaneously).

After a lengthy firmware update, it searches for channels, then presents you with the intuitive home screen you can see above. On here, you get eight menus: 'Live TV', 'Guide' (a 7-day EPG), 'Schedule' (a list of programes you have queued for recording), 'Library' (a list of all your recorded programmes), 'Find + record' (a search function) , 'Manual' (a help screen) and 'Settings'.

The menus are pleasantly slick – you can call up the full EPG, or just scroll through channels in a smaller menu at the bottom of the screen. The box turns red if it's scheduled to record, and behind the text a bar indicates how far you've got through the programme. There's also the option of an on-screen remote (see below) and chase play (the ability to start watching a programme that's still recording).

But there are a few downers. In order to allow recording while you're doing other things on your PS3 (say, playing Haze) you have to allow 'background recording', and there's a warning that this may cause slow-down and effect gameplay.

Then there are those bomb-shells that we revealed a few days ago, namely no 1080i recording at launch and the inclusion of pesky DRM. Although we haven't yet had the chance to test it with our PSP, this will mean you'll have to record shows via Remote Play to watch them on your handheld console rather than just sticking them on a memory stick and transferring them.

Play TV will be hitting shelves on 10th September for £70, but we'll bring you a full review before then to let you know whether or not to splash your cash.

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