Playstation Vue a Mixed Bag

vueMy wife and I cut the cord (i.e., dropped cable service) in early 2015 and had been using SlingTV – DISH’s live TV streaming service – to replace some of our sports and cooking shows. They have an odd interface, questionable customer service, and ongoing growing pains, but it included enough programming and functionality for us to make the switch.

SlingTV only has the licensing to offer on-demand and pause/fast-foward/rewind on a limited number of channels, and no way to record anything, so after the initial year we were ready for something different. Enter Playstation Vue.

As soon as Playstation Vue went nationwide in March, we signed up. Prior to that, they had been running in a limited number of test markets and only offered Playstation hardware compatibility. I would have preferred a Roku interface, but we already had a FireTV, so that would do for now.

It turns out that Playstation Vue has an even odder interface, even more questionable customer service, and even more growing pains.

On the up side, Vue offers a cloud-based DVR service and a lot more channels for not much more money, and you can pause live on almost any channel. They include the Fox Sports regional channels in most areas, and the Vue login will work with almost all of the networks’ standalone streaming apps and channels. By comparison, SlingTV’s login only works with WatchESPN, at least as of this writing.

On the down side, you’re limited to using Vue in a single location, although you can login with five different devices. With SlingTV, you can use it anywhere, but you can only have one device logged in at a time. Given a choice between the two, Vue’s model works out better for our situation.

Vue’s cloud DVR has numerous bugs on several fronts. Sometimes it will record a second showing days later, instead of getting the first showing. You can’t set extra time for sports or other variable length programming. And sometimes a recording will just skip all over the place, rendering it useless.

The guide part of the interface uses a vertically scrolling grid, the exact opposite of the horizontally scrolling grid that everybody is used to. The small type is difficult to read, at least on the FireTV, and it takes a long time to scroll across the guide to get to what you’re looking for. It seems like they need to do more caching and look-ahead programming with it. Listing information is constantly reloading.

But all in all, the DVR works most of the time, and if all else fails you can log into many channels’ standalone streaming apps/channels. AT&T and DirecTV Announcement have announced a new live TV service for later this year, and YouTube and Hulu have both announced new services for next year, so hopefully the competition for solid service and better interfaces will ratchet up even further soon.