The PlayStation 2 could be about to get digital video recording abilities added to the system by a software solution from American companies BroadQ and SnapStream. The system would effectively turn the PS2 into a TiVo style device, allowing users to record video to their hard discs and play it back as desired – with the added bonus of a clear digital signal, no rewinding or any of that VHS-era messing about, and the tantalising ability to pause and result live TV broadcasts.
Attractive as this is, however, there is a catch – unlike TiVo, which is a stand-alone product, the solution offered by BroadQ and SnapStream requires the use of a PC for much of its functionality.
Last year, SnapStream released a piece of software called Personal Video Station for the PC, which gives digital video recorder functions to any home PC with a TV card. The release of the network adapter for the PS2 in late August in the USA has opened up the possibility of connecting the PC to the PS2 over a network link, giving the PS2 the ability to play back recorded programs on the living room television – a much more attractive option than playback on a PC screen.
While the idea is somewhat clunky due to its reliance on a PC, and hence unlikely to see massive mainstream acceptance, it is mostly interesting for the glimpse it gives us of the possibilities raised by the next generation of console hardware. Microsoft is known to have considered adding digital video functions to Xbox, eventually dropping them – along with a variety of other multimedia applications – in favour of a pure games console. Sony has also expressed a desire to turn the PlayStation in the key multimedia device in the living room – and this form of digital video system is liable to be a key part of that drive.
It may be clunky and inelegant now, but the Personal Video Station system on the PS2 could well be an early look at the shape of things to come.