PlayStation VUE Review: Should you cut the cord?

After 30 days with PlayStation VUE, is it is all the commercials make it out to be? 

Upon moving to our new home I thought it was time for a fresh start. After being a long time Xfinity subscriber and spending the last two years with DISH, when my apartment management made it difficult for me to have an installer come out and mount a satellite dish, I thought I should give VUE a try now that the service has rolled out nationwide.

First off, for those who might not be familiar with VUE, here is a rundown about what it is. PlayStation VUE is a television streaming service launched nationwide by Sony on March 14, 2016. For a monthly subscription fee you can choose from various plans ranging from 55 to over 100 channels. There are also standalone channels available to add into your plan if you would like. VUE can be streamed to your PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, as well as Android and iOS devices.

Installation is as easy as installing the VUE app and starting your free trial. There are no installers to worry about nor hoops to jump through. The only thing you need is a respectable internet connection to be able to stream the video.

When you start, there are four basic plans that you can choose from. The Access Slim plan is the basic plan that allows you to view 55+ channels for only $29.99/month. This introductory plan features many of the most popular channels such as ESPN, ESPN2, Discovery, Cartoon Network, Syfy, Food Network, and others. You can expand your viewing lineup to the Ultra Slim with over 100 channels available for $64.99/month. You can also add HBO, Showtime, Cinemax and other channels for a monthly fee.

Sports fans have a lot to gain with VUE seeing as the channel lineup features the full spread of ESPN networks, NBCSN, Fox Sports networks, NFL Network, SEC Network, Big Ten Network, and others. If you are a football fan you can also pick up NFL RedZone for a one time fee of $30 as long as you have at least the Core Slim package or higher.

The service streams well on a reliable internet connection that has at least 5 Mbps bandwidth. The app itself is very easy to navigate whether it be the guide, watching shows on demand or searching for shows. Where it stumbles is on older technology. The VUE app is often sluggish to respond on our PS3 test bed even with a powerful internet connection. On the other hand, it much faster on newer platforms such as the PS4.

Another issue that some viewers will notice is the video bitrate. Even with the most robust internet connections on the PS4 you will only get video at 5400 Kbps. If you use a dongle connection or mobile device you will get even lower bitrates such as 3500 Kbps on the Fire TV. This is frustrating for users with large televisions or monitors who will lose the clarity they may have had with other services. The difference is more than noticeable when watching sporting events. There has been no word whether the bitrate cap will be raised in the future.

Local channels differ depending on where you are located. For example, CBS is available in Denver. While you cannot watch other channels such as NBC or FOX live, you can watch your favorite shows on demand the next day. Speaking of on demand, the service features a DVR of sorts. You can watch many shows on demand as well as set your favorite shows as “My Shows” so that you can quickly access streams of them as you wish.

Overall, the service has been extremely dependable and easy to use. Before the switch to VUE I was paying $110/month and while I did technically get more channels and higher resolution video it has been a great month. I am currently using the Core Slim package with the NFL RedZone add-on. I feel much better knowing that my lineup of channels has everything I want to watch for only $35/month. It also feels great to see the bill each month and only see my subscription fee instead of 20 or more different taxes, fees, and other charges.

If you are looking to cut to cord from a big provider, or you are wanting to get your favorite channels for a good price I would highly recommend PlayStation VUE. I hope that they raise the bandwidth cap, but even where it stands now, the value is too good to turn down for me. You can find a link to the PlayStation VUE website here.

 

Are you a VUE subscriber or want to sound off about streaming services? Or do you just want to vent about your current provider? Do it below in the comments!

 

 

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