Vidzone screen

Sony has recently added a video-clip viewing service to the Playstation 3, and yesterday it upgraded itself to version 2. While it is always nice to get new software on my PS3, and to see that Sony is still trying to improve the system (it also added a movie service called Mubi), the result is really disap­pointing.

Vidzone suffers from two core problems: awful usability and limited content. While the interface in version 2.0 felt really different from the previous, both versions felt like they were coded in a hurry by people who did not understand the Playstation user-interface at all. In fact if you go to the Sony website, the presentation clip never shows the UI.

The keys behave in completely unexpected ways – there is one key on the pad that looks like a pause button, what should it do? Full screen, of course – and the whoever designed the organisation of layouts and menus was either drunk or a very large committee or both. The application tries to do the modern thing and leverage the web browser, but there is not much to leverage. There is no embedded web engine so it calls the anæmic version of opera that is present on the PS3. Of course this means showing a dialog box, leaving the app, and then coming back to the app once the web interaction is finished.

Assuming said interaction takes place, because in my case, Opera was sending error messages because of misconfigured SSL certificates. The UI shows a huge Facebook icon (not the standard one mind you) all over the place, but the app cannot use the system wide Facebook integration, of course, trying to authorise the application brings up the old Opera browser and the wrong SSL certificates. Ah, yes, security, Sony…

At the core, this application is just a video player, with a play queue and a search engine. It is just perversely complicated. Which helps hide the fact there is not so much content. Sure there are video-clips from Beyoncé or Britney Spears, but for instance no trace of the newest Girl Panic Duran Duran clip that came out six days ago. And of course, there is nothing else, no remix, no people playing at home, in short, none of the interesting things.

So while it is nice for Sony to realise that people would like to watch stuff on the computing device hooked up to their TV, the result is a unusable application with limited content.

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