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Video game consoles aren't just for playing games anymore. Not only do the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One support Netflix, Crunchyroll, and many other streaming services, both Sony and Microsoft have added their own video stores to the line-up.
PlayStation Video, formerly known as Video Unlimited, marks Sony's attempt to diversify the PlayStation brand and appeal to a broader demographic of gamers and movie buffs alike.
Unlike Netflix and other subscription services, PlayStation Video charges no monthly fee, instead offering individual titles for rental or purchase. Thanks to Sony's relationship with big studios like Twentieth Century Fox and Universal Pictures, you'll find a hefty catalogue of new release movies and popular US TV shows available the day after they air on American cable networks.
As with most video-on-demand services, PlayStation Video only allows you to rent movies, not TV shows. Once you've picked a movie to rent, you'll have 30 days to start watching it; as soon as you hit play, though, the clock resets to 48 hours, giving you two days to see the credits roll before your rental license expires.
Rentals on PlayStation Video also come with fewer restrictions than similar services like Microsoft Films and TV. Provided that you're streaming and not downloading, rented movies can be paused on one device and resumed on another, switching from TV to tablet and back again as many times as you like. You can only watch downloaded rentals on the device that you download it to.
Purchases, meanwhile, are yours to download and stream forever. You can download purchases to as many compatible devices as you have linked to your Sony Entertainment Network (SEN) account, but you can only stream one video at a time per account.
Pricing varies considerably from title to title in the PlayStation Video catalogue. A new release movie like Trolls will run you $5.99 to rent in Standard Definition (SD) or $6.99 in High Definition (HD), while buying it outright will set you back $19.99 for SD and $24.99 for HD. Something a little older, like King Kong, can be rented for $3.99 SD/$4.99 HD or purchased for $9.99 SD/$11.99 HD.
For TV shows, you have the option of purchasing episodes individually or buying full seasons at a slightly lower price than the piecemeal approach. Single episodes typically cost $2.99 SD/$3.49 HD each. Complete seasons differ depending on how many episodes they contain as well as on how recent they are. Season 2 of The Walking Dead, for example, includes 13 episodes and sells for $31.99 SD/$33.99 HD, while Season 6 contains 16 episodes and goes for $40.99 SD/$44.99 HD. At the cheaper end, you can snap up something like 2 Broke Girls Season 1 for $18.99 SD/$22.99 HD.
If you're looking for the best deals, though, you'll want to keep an eye out for the sales Sony regularly runs on PlayStation Video. Movies from just a year or two ago can often be rented for as little as $0.99 SD/$1.99 HD, while full TV seasons receive their own deep discounts.
Though it's aimed primarily at gamers, Sony's PlayStation Plus subscription service can benefit film and TV buffs, too. PlayStation Plus members receive discounts every month on content in the PSN store, including both games and video content.Discounts vary from 10% up to 50% and more, but with a 12-month subscription running $69.95, subscribing for movies and TV alone might not be worth it.
Discounts vary from 10% up to 50% and more, but with a 12-month subscription running $69.95, subscribing for movies and TV alone might not be worth it.
You can find out more about Sony's premium service in our guide to PlayStation Plus.
PlayStation Video supports a wide range of both Sony and non-Sony devices. Within the PlayStation family, the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, PS Vita, PlayStation TV, and PSP all provide full access to PlayStation Video through native PlayStation Store apps. While each device lets users buy and rent movies and TV shows to their heart's content, there are some limitations. The PS4 does not support downloading video, making streaming the only option. Since the PS Vita, PlayStation TV, and PSP lack streaming capabilities, you will need to download videos to watch them. Furthermore, these devices only display video content in SD quality. The PS3, meanwhile, has no restrictions at all.
The PS4 does not support downloading video, making streaming the only option. Since the PS Vita, PlayStation TV, and PSP lack streaming capabilities, you will need to download videos to watch them. Furthermore, these devices only display video content in SD quality. Whereas the PS3 has no restrictions at all.
Sony's line of Xperia smartphones and tablets also support PlayStation Video, with the only caveat being their inability to display HD content. For that, you might want to consider one of Sony's Bravia TVs or official Blu-ray players, both of which come with PlayStation Video built-in. It's worth noting that pre-2013 Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players only support rental transactions, not purchases, from within their native apps. You can watch content purchased on other devices without issue, though.
It's worth noting that pre-2013 Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players only support rental transactions, not purchases, from within their native apps. You can watch content purchased on other devices without issue, though.
Outside of the Sony ecosystem, Android devices running Android 4.4 or later can download the official PlayStation Video app and purchase, rent, stream, and download SD movies and TV while on-the-go. Apple users, meanwhile, get a bit of a raw deal. The
Apple users get a bit of a raw deal. The iOS app doesn't support buying or renting due to Apple's restrictions on in-app purchases, nor does it allow for downloading videos directly to your iPhone or iPad.
With a PC or Mac, you can access PlayStation Video through a modern web browser like Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. If your computer has at least 512MB of RAM, 128MB of graphics memory and is compatible with Adobe Flash 14.0 or later, you'll be able to buy, rent, and stream in SD without a hitch. To stream in HD, you'll need at least 4GB of RAM and an Intel Core or faster processor.
Both downloading and streaming from PlayStation Video counts against your monthly data allowance. How much data each uses depends both on the length of a particular movie or TV show as well as the quality you choose to watch it in.
When streaming in SD, Sony recommends a broadband connection of 1.5Mbps or higher, which equates to approximately 675MB of data used per hour. If you watch an average of 10 hours of video content a week, that adds up to around 30GB of your monthly data cap. For HD, meanwhile, Sony advises a connection of 3.5Mbps or higher, which comes in at roughly 1.6GB an hour or around 70GB of your monthly data cap. Bear in mind, these numbers are approximations, and the toll on your data cap could be considerably higher.
For HD, Sony advises a connection of 3.5Mbps or higher, which comes in at roughly 1.6GB an hour or around 70GB of your monthly data cap. Bear in mind, these numbers are approximations, and the toll on your data cap could be considerably higher.
If you want to go the download route, the numbers get a bit fuzzier. PlayStation Video only lists file sizes for some of its titles; the rest you won't know until after you've made your purchase. Nevertheless, by looking at a few examples, we can get a good idea of what to expect. Doctor Strange, which has a runtime of 114 minutes, weighs in at 1.3GB for SD and 5.3GB for HD.
On the other hand, Sausage Party hits 1.1GB for SD and 4.0GB for HD over its 88-minute runtime. On the TV front, a 46-minute episode of The Walking Dead takes up 579MB for SD and 2.1GB for HD, while a 21-minute episode of American Dad consumes 203MB for SD and 800MB for HD. All told, downloading uses up only slightly more data than streaming.
PlayStation Video features thousands of movies and TV shows covering a broad range of interests, from kids' cartoons to political documentaries to sci-fi thrillers.Since Sony also has its own movie studio, Sony Pictures Entertainment, it enjoys a close relationship with many other studios, meaning PlayStation Video often gets new-release blockbusters long before they make it to competing services.
To cap it all off, Sony has started investing in original programming, making shows like Powers exclusive to PlayStation Video.
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