Finally Cutting the Cord, Playstation Vue Review
With the exception of sports, I rarely watch live television nowadays. Cable television was a utility I provided in my household, but primarily as a courtesy to my roommates. Now that they’re gone, I no longer have a need for the service. After being a cable/satellite television subscriber with Time Warner Cable, Dish Network and recently DirecTV for the last 13 years, I decided it was time to cut the cord.
I used to keep up with my favorite television shows, but with some patience, one can just wait until they’re released on streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and such. And it’s much cheaper, too. I was paying nearly $110 a month for the second-lowest tier package (with a few “extras” like HD and DVR) with DirecTV.
I still have a desire to watch my favorite sports teams, so I looked into the many live TV streaming options currently available. ‘Sling’, ‘DirecTV Now’, ‘Playstation Vue’ and recently ‘Hulu with Live TV’ and ‘YouTube TV’ are providing good alternatives to the expensive cable packages. Digital Trends provides a good overview of the differences between all of these services.
I wanted to go with YouTube TV due to it’s better DVR features, however it is only currently only available in select markets. For now, I ended up going with Playstation Vue which is still a great option.
What I like:
- I am only paying $35+tax for the ‘Core Access’ plan, which includes 65 channels. The plan includes the channels I primarily watch for sports — ESPN, TNT, NBA TV, NFL Network, FOX Sports 1, BeIN Sports. It also includes channels like AMC, FX and USA, allowing me to watch live some of my favorite shows outside of Netflix and Amazon Prime.
- Premium channels like HBO, Showtime and others are also available and can be added for a fee.
- A Sony Playstation console isn’t required and one doesn’t need to lease equipment. I can use the service on a variety of supported devices — PC, mobile phone and smart TV. I recently acquired a Sony television (XBR49X900E) with Android TV, so I was able to use the service without the need for an external device.
- DVR features are included and are cloud-based.
- There are no yearly contracts — one can cancel at anytime.
What I don’t like:
- Based on my location, local channels like ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX are on-demand only. It may be a problem for me down the road since finals for sports are shown on these channels. Unless they change this soon, one solution would be to purchase an over-the-air HDTV antenna.
- The Playstation Vue UI (user interface) could use some work — sometimes it feels like a chore navigating through the menus. It can also feel slow and unresponsive, although I am not sure if it’s the television’s processing power or lack of optimization. I’m hoping it’s the latter and can be fixed via future firmware and/or app updates.
- DVR capabilities need to be refined a bit. There is no option to record X amount of minutes before or after a show which is necessary in sports games that can go into overtime, for example.
- Obviously, picture quality can suffer if there isn’t sufficient bandwidth available. It can be a nuisance if you have multiple users and/or devices in a household sharing an internet connection.
The service is still new, and I expect more channels and features to be added soon. I will be monitoring the upgrades and changes to other services as time goes on. Thankfully, since there are no contracts, I am free to move to another service at any moment.
Overall, I’m happy with with it and would recommend it to anyone thinking about ditching their current cable provider. Just be sure to compare the channel lineups and find one that suits your television needs.
Update: June 4th, 2017
As for my concerns early about watching certain live sporting events, I was able to catch games for the NBA Finals and the UEFA Champions League Final with my Playstation Vue subscription.
I was required to download two separate Android applications on my television, ESPN and FOX Sports GO. After downloading them, I had to verify (using your Playstation Vue credentials) and activate the applications on their respective websites. One downside is that the ESPN app lacked playback controls and great video quality — which the FOX Sports GO app had.
Regardless of the extra apps, it’s still awesome to be able to watch these finals while saving money.