Sony Canada this week held a media event in Toronto to launch its Sony Entertainment Network which now spans music, movies, games and user created media. Essentially it is a “portal for all of your digital entertainment needs. Movies, music and games across multiple devices (Sony and non-Sony) from one convenient account.” It consists of four key services: Video Unlimited, Music Unlimited, PlayStation Network, and the just launched PlayMemories storage service. It comes at a time when consumers increasingly look for streaming content on a variety of devices from televisions to tablets and smartphones, said Dan Phillips, Director of Television Marketing, Sony of Canada.
PlayStation Network is the venerable gaming platform-focused portion of the service. It is accessible via the PlayStation 3 as well as PlayStation portable devices such as the recently launched PS Vita. It offers multiplayer gaming, downloadable content, as well the PlayStation Plus subscription which offers more. There is also the PlayStation Home virtual world where you can interact with other PlayStation players.
Video Unlimited is the movie and TV show portal, offering some 80,000 movies and TV shows for rent and purchase. Content is available in SD, HD, and 3D. A wide variety of devices is supported and content can be shared across them although some there are some restrictions.
Music Unlimited which launched in Canada earlier this month, is Sony’s cloud-based digital music subscription service. It offers 15 million songs to choose from, letting you chose exactly what you want to hear or pick from a variety of channels. The service can also scan your personal computer and import your music collection (copy protected content is not supported) into your cloud library. Two plans are available, a Basic plan for CA$3.99 per month and a more full-featured Premium plan for CA$9.99 per month.
PlayMemories is Sony’s newest addition to the Sony Entertainment Network. It allows users to upload their content, namely photos and videos, to the cloud so that they can then be played back from a wide variety of devices ranging from your Bravia television to an Android smartphone or tablet. It comes with 5GB of free PlayMemories Online storage.
Content stored on PlayMemories can also be edited with the PlayMemories Home application on the PC or the PlayMemories Studio on the PlayStation 3.
The first demonstration I attended was very reminiscent of what I saw at the Sony Tablet S launch last year. Users can essentially “throw” or share their content from one device to another to share it. In this case, a picture taken with the Wi-Fi-enabled Sony DSC-HX30V (V for GPS obviously) camera was thrown to a Sony Tablet S via Wi-Fi. The PlayMemories Mobile app is required (and is pre-installed on the Sony Xperia S).
The second demonstration focused on the ability of Sony’s gaming platforms to work together. In this case, a player from MLB 12 The Show could be configured on either the PS3 or the PS Vita. Once saved to the cloud, it was then available for the other platform to download and use. The integration goes even further. A game in progress can be saved and resumed on the other platform just as easily.
Not all games will work in such a fashion though. First, you need versions for each gaming system and they need to support the feature. That unfortunately leaves a lot of games out. Buying the same game twice can also get expensive. While game bundles can save you a bit of money, Sony representatives suggested that some future games might bundle the portable edition for free (a decision left to the individual game publishers).
In the end, the real convenience of the Sony Entertainment Network is its single sign-on and its ‘a la carte’ selection of services. You can choose to use any or all. The breadth of devices supported also makes it convenient to share content although some frustrating limitations remain.