Posted by drew10 on Dec 7, 2010
Review: LOVEFiLM – PS3

Review: LOVEFiLM – PS3

As consoles become evermore the one stop entertainment centre of your home, more and more companies are trying to get in on the act.

Both Sony and Microsoft have been offering HD video rental downloads through their systems for sometime now and both services work remarkably well, if a little on the expensive side.

Now Online video rental giants LOVEFiLM are getting in on the action with the launch of their streaming service on PS3.

Initially the service seems like a brilliant idea. Access to hundreds of films streamed directly to your PS3 from LOVEFiLM’s servers. A huge catalogue of films that you have access to twenty-four hours a day. However currently, with the service in its infancy the selection of movies isn’t quite as impressive as one would hope. The lack of any new DVD releases is something of a worry, apparently caused by the different licences required for streaming content than that of rental media. This is fair enough and we are reliably informed that the catalogue will grow as time goes on.

To get the best out of LOVEFiLM’s streaming service you will need to be a full membership. The lowest price you can pay to access the streaming service is £5.99, for this price you are able to rent one DVD and you get two hours of streaming per month. Considering a huge majority of films last longer than two hours we cant really see the point in this. To get the best out of the streaming service you will need to pay at least £12.99 per month. This will enable you to not only hire two DVD’s at a time but also get unlimited streaming throughout the month. Giving you unrestricted access to the service no matter how many films you watch in a month.

So to the service itself. The menu systems in general look pretty good but the way the films are organised is terrible. It can take simply ages to scroll through to find a film that you want to watch. The menus being set out in lists is simply a terrible idea and whilst you can search or browse by genre finding a film to watch can be arduous. It would have been far better to have small thumbnails on the screen. You could fit more on and navigation would be quicker. Talking of speed, on ADSL at busy peek times the menu system can take ages to update and finding a film to watch can be excruciating. Hopefully as the system improves so will the slowdown that is caused by peak-time traffic.

Okay so the menu system could have been better but the most important thing about this whole service is the films themselves. Unfortunately this is the biggest disappointment of all. In an age when HD and now 3D visuals are the norm the quality of this streaming service is simply not up to scratch. Most of the films have been compressed to destruction.  The image quality is terrible as is the sound with digital distortion and compression effecting almost everything we watched. Our first test film was the visually stunning Beowulf. Having seen the movie in the cinema and on Blu-ray it seemed like a good benchmark for what the service could offer. It was painful, looking more like a cheap pirated video from the early 90’s rather than an ultra-modern CGI film. What makes the service more frustrating is that it does not even compare to the BBC iPlayer in terms of streaming quality.

Overall LOVEFiLM’s streaming service is way under the quality that is demanded by today’s digital generation. With a poor current film selection, slow menu system and terrible streaming quality it falls down in nearly every department. It’s one saving grace is that if you are already a fully paid member of LOVEFiLM’s rental service then this is essentially a free add-on and gives you access to films at any time of day. However there is nothing here currently to make you part with cash specifically for the service itself.

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