Sony on Thursday launched "Life with PlayStation," an online service that leverages the video game console in delivering a variety of visual and interactive news and information from around the globe.
The initial content of Life, which Sony describes as a "lifestyle service," is Live Channel, a collection of news and information centered on two themes, "place" and "time," on a world map interface. Live content includes cloud imagery, weather information, news headlines, and camera images from nearly 60 cities across the globe. Content providers include Google, The Weather Channel, The Earth Television Network, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Space Science and Engineering Center.
To connect to the online services, PlayStation users click on the [email protected] icon on the network column of the console's XrossMediaBar. The service is available at no additional charge, and Sony plans to add content in the future.
Sony's latest features reflect the company's strategy of making the PlayStation 3 more than just a console for gamers. By offering an increasing amount of interactive content, as well as the ability to play high-definition movies through a digital TV, Sony is hoping the console plays a bigger role in the family's home entertainment center.
Sony, for example, released last summer in Europe a combined TV tuner and personal video recorder for the PS3. The PlayTV device connects to the video game console and acts as a kind of rabbit ears in picking up TV shows available over Europe's terrestrial airwaves, which broadcasts standard and high-definition TV. Once software is installed in the PS3, people can use a seven-day electronic program guide that also provides navigation for programming PVR features, which include watching, pausing, and recording shows. The device has not been released in the United States.
Sony's major competitors in the video-console market include Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii.