Thursday, August 2, 2007

PS3: recorded HDTV playback update

As opposed to a few days ago, now I know that captured HDTV (MPEG2) playback is a problem with the PS3:

I'd REALLY like my PS3 to play my recorded HDTV. I'm outraged that they could make such a crappy decoder. Oh well, maybe one day they'll release a decoder that isn't buggy as hell (one can only hope they'll do a multicore/CellBE enabled port of VLC, but this will never happen :-).

In related news, Sony wants me to send in my PS3 for repairs because it won't play MPEG2 correctly. That's right, instead of admitting what is a common problem others are facing, they are accusing my hardware of being faulty. I've sent them several e-mails, even linked to a file demonstrating the problem, and asked them to forward it to a technical person to look at it. The first two rounds of e-mail went like this:
Raj: My MPEG2-PS files aren't playing correctly on my PS3.
Sony: The Playstation only supports (other formats) and MPEG2-PS. Make sure that is what you are playing.
Raj: Yes dumbass, that's what I said. Here is a link to a file for you to test, and for you to debug your MPEG decoder against.
Sony: Sorry, I can't answer that question on e-mail. Please call us.
Of course phone support gets me nowhere (transfered back and forth between SCEA and Sony corporate). Then I get the dreaded "are you using the most updated system software?" I just want to file a bug report, is it that hard!? A valid input file to your decoder isn't rendered properly, so you should fix your decoder. It is that simple. I'm sick of being disappointed with this thing. The only thing keeping me from returning this 380W space heater is Ninja Gaiden, and the promise of buying a Blu-Ray movie or two to test this thing out.

If anyone downloads the offending file from above and tests it on a PS3 vs. on a PC, please leave a comment. It is a VERY brief HD clip from the television series Entourage, and is for debugging purposes only, which I believe constitutes fair use under US copyright law.


Dan said...

Hello Raj:

I've been following your trials with the PS3 with great interest, as I've been trying to use mine as a media hub as well.

I did download the sample mpeg clip you posted, and when I attempted to play it in my PS3 I got similar results: a few jittery frames played, and then everything went black.

Try as I might, I have not been able to get ANY mpeg2 program stream files to play. I have extracted various m2t files from my cable box, converted them to mpeg2 program streams, and then tried to play them on the PS3 via a thumb drive. These are very small files that I've been using just to test things out (100 MB or so). No luck so far...the PS3 complains that the files are "corrupted".

However, I have found that I CAN play my files on the PS3 as long as I keep them as mpeg2 transport streams with mp2 audio. I have been able to play both 720p and 1080i content this way.

Of course, I am still limited by small file sizes. The next thing I will try out is a DLNA/uPNP server for streaming large files. I'll post another comment soon.

Raj said...

dan, how do you do your conversion from TS to PS? i made a quick post for your benefit about upnp. thanks for the tip about TS with mp2 audio, i'll have to try a audio transcode since my raw content is all TS with Dolby Digital audio. Luckily I don't care about losing some audio fidelity for a television program, its the picture I really care about.

do you keep a blog dan? your info is private, i couldn't find your homepage/blog.

Dan said...

Hi Raj,

I used MPEG Streamclip to convert from TS to PS, but now that I know TS with mp2 audio works, I'm happy with it. I agree with you...picture is more important than audio when it comes to a TV program. AC3 would be nice, so hopefully a future firmware update will fix that.

Yesterday, I setup MediaTomb on my Mac Mini. It took quite a while to download fink, compile MediaTomb, etc. but once I got it all setup, I was very impressed. It works great!

At first, I attempted to stream my content over 802.11g, but I experienced some stuttering frames when playing HD content (as I think you mentioned also). I went ahead and switched both the PS3 and Mac Mini to hardwired connections, and now it's fantastic. I played a couple different kinds of programs, both 720p and 1080i (TS not PS), and they played flawlessly. Fast forward and rewind seem to work OK, too. Granted, I'm just starting to experiment with playback of my recorded content, so we'll see how it goes.

All in all, I think the PS3 has alot going for it, and I haven't even played any games yet! I do wish it would read HFS+ formatted USB drives though. Surprisingly, the Xbox 360 does. I believe Sony will probably have to add support for this in a future fimware update in order to allow people to plugin their HFS-formatted iPods.

To answer your other question, no I don't keep a blog, but I do enjoy reading yours...keep it up. BTW, I am a software developer in Austin, TX.