When it comes to on the go blockbusters and TV shows on demand, you probably think of Netflix, iPlayer and Google Play Movies. For anyone with a PC and a PS3 though, Sony’s Video Unlimited could be just the ticket. Not only is it pre-installed on all the current line of Xperias on offer, it also works on a number of platforms iTunes and Google’s services wont, offering comparable pricing.
What is it?
Before we start, we should be clear, Sony’s Video Unlimited is a pay-per-view download service. It’s part of Sony’s Entertainment Network and sits alongside Music Unlimited, which we’ve also reviewed. Films and TV shows cost money, around £5-15 and are generally newer than streaming subscription services like Netflix.
It can be likened to Google’s Play Movies or iTunes more closely than the streaming services mentioned. This is because films and TV Shows are downloadable on specific devices in standard or high definition, with options to rent or buy your movies in place.
Will it work on my phone?
Here’s the catch, the mobile app will only work on your Sony Xperia handset. If you’re sold into the Sony ecosystem, it will also work on your Sony Smart TV, PS3, undoubtedly Sony’s upcoming PS4 and any PC.
Odds are, if you’ve got an Xperia device the Video Unlimited app will be installed already, but if it isn’t, just track it down in the Google Play Store.
Unfortunately, for any Mac users or non-Xperia phone owners, the app won’t work for you – hopefully Sony will address this exclusivity soon.
What’s so good about it?
For starters, it’s all part of Sony’s Entertainment Network. The reason this is awesome, is because one account will work across Music Unlimited, the Playstation Network and Video Unlimited.
Uber-convenient, this means you can add funds to the Playstation Network, then spend them on films and music – simple.
We mentioned Movies can be purchased in HD and SD when at a Playstation or PC. Annoyingly, on the mobile app, only SD purchase is available for both purchase and download.
While we’re not fans of this limitation, we do like the fact that an SD version of your film can be purchased alongside the HD option at no additional cost – perfect for anyone who has a PS3 and an Xperia phone or tablet.
The user interface
So you’re seriously thinking about Video Unlimited. What’s the app like? Handsome, but slightly dated.
In line visually with the gallery on Xperia phones, all films appear in cells within a grid. Rows can be swiped horizontally and are divided into key categories such as New Films, Top Films, as well as ‘Offers & Collections’.
For a more in depth set of categories, the drop down bar at the top is your destination, with plenty to choose from.
All films and TV shows on board come loaded with high quality trailers and descriptions, so you know exactly what you’re getting. The selection is extensive enough with over 4000 new and popular titles to rent and 3200 or so to rent. Though certain categories like Anime are lacking in choice with about 40 or so titles.
Standard definition files tend to be just shy of 1GB, while HD films around 4GB. A nice feature is the option to play your purchase while the rest of the film downloads.
Video quality is also on-point. In spite of the SD resolution on phones, when played back on the Sony Xperia Z, content looks well formatted and sharp enough for a very enjoyable viewing experience.
Pricing and conclusion
With price being so variable across titles and sales being commonplace within Video Unlimited, it’s fair to say the service is competitive when compared with iTunes and Google Play Movies.
If you have a PS3, a PC and an Xperia phone, or at least two of these, we can’t think of many reasons not to try out Video unlimited at the very least.
If you just have an Xperia phone though, the entire experience feels a little half-baked. You won’t have access to HD downloads, there’s less choice when it comes to renting or buying titles and incompatibility with non-Xperia smartphones and tablets hurts Video Unlimited’s broad appeal.
All in all, if you’ve got the right kit, this is a decent service and a feasible way of centralising your digital video library, especially for PS3 owners. In the grand scheme of things though, there’s plenty of scope for improvement.