When I originally purchased the PSP handheld, I mainly wanted it for its gaming capabilities, while I traveled around the country with work. The fact that it had Wi-Fi and the ability to surf the net was an added bonus. Surfing the net however was never really viable as most hotels still charge silly money for 24-hours of internet access. I never really took a shine to UMD movies either, due to the cost for a lesser quality film that was viewed on a tiny screen, sure it could have been a great idea had the price been right but this feature again was wide of the mark.
Imagine my surprise, when, during a previous games industry expo it was announced that Go!View; a new collaboration between Sky and Sony, was bringing a subscription-based service of television content to the PlayStation Portable. I was very eager to sample this new service and was pleased to see that I could do so for free for a month. So far so good.
Upon signing up to the site I was prompted to download some software that is very similar to BBC's iPlayer software, albeit in at a beta stage (I will come back to this later). In fact, on further inspection, I found out that it uses Kontiki to run as well, basically its a peer-to-peer system meaning that when you download something you instantly begin to share that content too. Whilst this system is very nice, and understandable for a free service like BBC's iPlayer (anyone in the UK with a telly has to pay for a TV license, so it's not really free) it just doesn't seem right for a paid service that costs up to 10 GBP a month. Essentially Go!View are leeching your bandwidth to share the content you just paid for; that said it is pretty quick which is very important when you are on the go.
Installing the software was easy enough, the usual old hat, however when you first fire it up you can really tell this is beta software. Its a damn good job that it is free at the moment, not only do Sony expect you to share the content you just downloaded but they also expect you to test out some really clunky, unresponsive software for them too. Over the few weeks that I have had it installed it hasn't gotten any better at all, but that's not all... on every single page there is a video that starts playing at the top of the page with the sound turned to 'on' as default. I still haven't found a way other than turning my sound off to stop this from happening. Its pretty annoying.
So, I decided to have a look through the comedy section only to find that there is mainly older content available. Classics like The League of Gentlemen and Red Dwarf are well worth a watch here and there, but if you are a big fan of these then the chances are you own the DVD and have watched them to death (I know I have). However, someone looking to catch up on some classic comedy will really enjoy this section, just don't hold your breath for newer comedy shows.
'Entertainment' was the other big draw for me with this service but I have yet to find anything in this section that I am hugely interested in. For the girls, you can download 'Desperate Housewives' but then again how many girls do you know that own a PSP? To say there is a lack of content in these two areas is an understatement, and it seems like nothing has been added in the couple of weeks I have been signed up for either; a fair distance then from the promised "latest TV shows". Annoyingly, I was quite up for watching some Battlestar Galactica episodes after my friend informed me that its pretty decent; only to find that the whole of Season 3 is on there but nothing else.
Now there is one more section, 'Sport', which I can see being the biggest seller for this service. Personally I like to play sport rather than watch it, but if you are someone constantly on the move then this could be a great way for you to catch up on everything you missed. Not that I am too hot on the subject, but I noticed that some of the sport on offer was really quite old and unless you were a real fan of the team in question or they won a cup then I would see no reason for people to download it, especially as it expires after 28 days. Very odd indeed.
Once you have downloaded a show you then have to connect your PSP to your computer via the USB data cable, you can't just take out your memory stick and pop it into an adapter. You can then transfer the file over to your PSP for viewing later on. Be warned though, I have a 4GB Memory Stick from eBay that up until now worked fine with everything I have put on it, but it just wouldn't work with Go!View. I am presuming that's because I was unlucky enough to receive a fake (even though I was trying to be very careful about this) as the 2GB stick that I bought from Play.com worked an absolute treat. Luckily they are still offering the one month free trial so I would suggest you go that route before investing your cash as you may have an incompatible Memory Stick too, making the whole effort useless.
You can get the all three packages for 10 GBP per month, two packages for 8 GBP per month or just the one for 5 GBP per month. Also there are some movies to choose from but they cost extra, newer films cost 3.50 GBP per rental compared to 2.50 GBP for older titles, not too bad really, but half an hour of looking at my PSP screen is quite hard to deal with let alone an hour and a half.
I will hold judgment on whether the monthly price is worth it until I have come to the end of my trial period and ultimately paid for more, or quit altogether. You can be sure that I will write up my final thoughts on the service when this time comes, and of course report back as the content line-up expands. In the mean time grab the one month trial before it disappears for good, but be warned that Go!View's biggest downfall at the moment is the front-end software.