Pando

The PS4 could be the perfect media device, if only it would work the way it's supposed to

By Nathaniel Mott , written on March 16, 2015

From The News Desk

I’ve become obsessed with “Criminal Minds.” Sure, it’s a hokey show that makes “Law & Order” seem subtle, but it’s enjoyable. The quirky FBI agents profile a criminal, a chase ensues, and then… you wait five minutes for Netflix to start playing again.

That last part might be too familiar to anyone who tries to stream videos on a PlayStation 4. I’ve spent the better part of the last few nights watching a progress meter empty, and then lie about reaching 25 percent capacity, and then stay there for far too long.

The problem isn’t exclusive to Netflix. Hulu Plus, HBO Go, and other services often fail to load on the console. I abandoned Amazon Instant Video because I would rent a video, wait for it to load, watch a Vine-length snippet from the film, and repeat.

Nothing seems to fix the problem. I’ve restarted the PS4 more times than I care to count, fiddled with my home WiFi network, and reinstalled all of these services’ applications. Hell, I’ve even started following bizarre rituals that seem to make the console work a little better, like the modern equivalent to holding the “bunny ears” atop a television set a certain way.

All of these services work on my laptop, phone, and tablet, so the problem isn’t on their end. Games seem to connect to their online services without a hitch, so the PS4’s hardware isn’t to blame, either. It must be a problem with the console’s software.

Since that’s the only part of the console which isn’t easily replaced, and the problem isn’t caused by anything I control, the ordeal has made me consider buying a set-top box. That’s a shame, because consoles should be the future of entertainment.

No other devices come close to the versatility and ease-of-use of a game console. The biggest problem is finding something that offers access to streaming services and supports both DVDs and Blu-ray discs. Even then, unless it has its own games, I’d have to switch between that device and the PS4 throughout the day.

Just about the only thing the PS4 — and its counterpart, the Xbox One — can’t do is offer access to live television. For some people, that’s a deal breaker. For me, it’s not even a concern, since I don’t watch sports nor buy episodes of shows (like “The Walking Dead”) I can’t already stream through Hulu or other services.

The dropped connections, the lying progress bars, some nights the inability to stream even a single video without error… all of these nuisances cloud the fact that the PS4 has the potential to be the perfect media device, at least for those of us who don’t subscribe to cable television.

All it would have to do is work the way it’s supposed to. Unfortunately, as the “Criminal Minds” characters who are cut off mid-sentence as Netflix fails to load could attest, it just doesn’t.