It's not often New Zealand makes technology headlines around the world. So I was surprised then to log onto the tech section of Google News today and see some major news out of Sony Computer Entertainment originating from the company's local boss Warwick Light.
Dozens of news reports are linking to a report in The Press that quotes Light as saying that by early next year, the Playstation 3 console will be capable of being used as a digital video recorder - much like a MySky or TiVo box.
As Light said: "We're also hoping next year - about the same time that Freeview launches its terrestrial broadcasting service (expected to be in March) - to release a digital tuner for the PS3, turning it into a programmable TV recorder."
That's the first time anyone, in the entire world no less, has heard of Sony's plans to release a digital tuner for the PS3 and as such, the news has generated some heat in the tech blogosphere.
As Wired reporter Susan Arendt wrote on her blog:
"Oh, snap. Light figures that the PS3 is an ideal home entertainment machine because owners can 'update its processing capabilities through firmware updates that add functionality to the machine,' instead of having to replace the entire unit. Hopefully we'll hear more about this from Sony at Leipzig."
CNet's Dave Carnoy was similarly enthused:
"It's always been fairly clear that Sony has considered the PS3 much more than a gaming machine. So, expect to hear more of this marketing language as we head into the holiday buying season. And don't be surprised to hear the words Tivo and PS3 mentioned more often in the same sentence."
Astonished that Sony would decide to reveal such a major PS3 development in little old New Zealand, I called Warwick for the lowdown. He answered with a sheepish "no comment". He sounded like he'd had the day from hell.
As Computer and Videogames put it on their website:
"Light may well have pre-empted one of Sony's expected big announcements for the Leipzig Games Convention this month, where previous rumour has suggested the company will announced details on Freeview TV for PS3."
Poor Warwick, he appears to have let the cat out of the bag and is now feeling the burn of Sony HQ's blowtorch!
Anyway, whatever the timing of Sony's move to release a digital tuner, the move signals how much more of a mainstream entertainment device the PS3 is set to become.
By adding a digital tuner, probably as a USB plug-in, and upgrading the software, you could be able to record live TV to the PS3's hard drive. You'd need a multimedia remote to do this properly, but a tuner and remote bundle would likely be on offer.
As I explore options for buying a stand alone digital recorder, this one that Warwick has hinted at, is far more appealing.
One box in my lounge that takes care of gaming, internet access, hi-def movies, photos and live TV sounds pretty good. Bring it on!
Finally, the UK-based Trusted Reviews website found something else of interest in the report from Aotearoa: "We can be moderately comforted by the knowledge that while we in the UK may be getting a raw deal compared to the US and Japan, New Zealand seem to be even worse off. While they, like Australia, are getting the same "added value" pack as Europe, the pricing there is even worse, with the UK 415 pound kit costing the equivalent of 450 pounds in NZ, which is frankly ridiculous."