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All About torne, the PS3 DVR Kit

The developers discuss their new creation.

 

One of last week's major surprise announcements was "torne," a kit that converts your PlayStation 3 into a digital video recorder (DVR). Sony was a bit shy with the details at the announcement, but Famitsu has come through with specifics in its latest issue.

First up, some details on the torne viewing experience. The torne application is included on a Blu-ray disc that comes bundled with the torne tuner. Install this, and a new TV icon will appear on the PS3's Xross Media Bar interface. You boot up torne from here and can then browse channels and record.

Recording takes six gigabytes of space for one hour, according to the magazine. This looks like it could eat up your PS3's hard disk quickly, but you can also set the program to save to an external hard disk.

There are a few previously unreleased screens in the magazine showing the torne interface. One screen of note shows the startup screen. It consists of a series of circles which serve as your main options. Videos that you've recorded float around in the background.

The magazine was given a chance to interview key torne staff at Sony. In the hot seat were torne application director Manabu Nishizawa, torne application development head Kensaku Ishizuka, and chief hardware planner at SCEI, Kiyoto Shibuya (his name is almost two places!)

Having sampled the application in advance, the magazine made note of how speedy and smooth the control is. This is the biggest feature for the application, explained Nishizawa. They've made the effort to offer responsiveness and a good feeling for the controls. Game users in particular should pick up the controls easily, as it retains the usual conventions, like circle for confirm and x for cancel.

Giving the interface a "PlayStation 3 feel" was one of torne's development concepts, admitted Nishizawa. When deciding what a PlayStation 3-like recorder should be, the staff considered game-like controls, as well as having an interface that you'd want in your living room. They spent much effort on the interface's design. The interface even has five background songs playing at random.

As mentioned in Sony's torne announcement last week, the interface uses the system's powerful Cell processor to help provide a smooth experience. When switching channels, a cross fade makes the new channel zoom in from the center of the screen. This is something that's done in games a lot, and here it helps make you ignore any pauses that may arise during the channel change.

The torne interface should be one of the product's primary selling points.

PSP support is one of the big features of torne. You can use the PSP to directly view videos that you've copied over, and to act as a remote viewer for the PS3 using Remote Play.

Footage that's been copied over and optimzed for the PSP is extremely beautiful, said Ishizuka. You'll have to wait about half the length of the video for the transfer to take place, though.

As for Remote Play, Ishizuka suggested one possible use for this: while the kids are watching television, their father can secretly view recorded programs on the PSP.

It should be noted that the Remote Play will work only within your home. It will not work across the internet.

PSP appears to be a central part of the torne concept.

Unfortunately, there were no additional details in the interview about the Trophy support that leaked out earlier in the day. In the interview Shibuya simply cited the single example about getting a "Master of Final Episodes" Trophy for watching lots of final episodes. His wording did suggest that this is just one example of a Trophy, so perhaps we can expect even more "Masters."

(additional reporting by Ryan Winterhalter)

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