PlayStation Vue: the downsides

I've previously reviewed Sony's livestreaming television service PlayStation Vue, and as I said at the time, it's largely a great service. I still use Vue and still enjoy it, but as with all things in life, there are some aspects I'm not terribly fond of and they tend to surface over time. That's not to say any of them are deal breakers, not personally, anyway. But there are some downsides that may be more than an annoyance for some prospective subscribers, and it's best to know about them ahead of time.

If you have a data cap, it's going to hurt

The biggest downside to PlayStation Vue is by no means exclusive to it: the service, like Sling TV and any other streaming video platform, uses up a lot of data. That's no big deal if you don't have a data cap, but if you're in the U.S., there's a reasonable chance you do. I'm an AT&T subscriber, and I have a 600GB/month data cap. Comcast has been introducing similar data caps in some of its markets, too. Eliminating the data cap requires extra payments, or you have to pay more when you go over the cap.

In my case, I can get rid of the data cap by subscribing to AT&T's DirecTV, which I obviously don't want to do, otherwise I wouldn't be using PS Vue. Unlike Vue, DirecTV requires a contract, and I'd be shackled to it longer than the term of my apartment lease.

Only halfway through the month and I've already used more than half of my allotted data

"I've exceeded my data cap every month I've had the service."

This puts me between a rock and a hard place, though. PlayStation Vue has greatly increased my Internet data usage numbers, and I've exceeded my data cap every month I've had the service. This is no doubt due in part to my habit of leaving the TV on for background noise; if you only watch a couple hours a day, you probably won't have much of an issue. If you like to have River Monsters playing in the background of your day, you're gonna have a bad time. The usage numbers are definitely higher compared to when I'd binge watch Netflix, though.

Because of the data cap (which is in no way Sony's fault, of course), I ultimately pay more for having PlayStation Vue than I would if I ditched it for satellite or cable. With data overage charges, I'm paying about $100/month now instead of $65-ish. It's worth it to me because I can use Vue anywhere, there's no hardware to return, and no contract, but it'll certainly be a deal break for some prospective subscribers.

Some shows aren't available

It's important to stress that this issue is a true rarity, but it has happened a few times: I'll be scrolling through the guide when a movie or show catches my eye. I'll select it, only to get a screen letting me know that hey, nothing's wrong, we just can't show you this because you're using Vue!

I have a Netflix subscription too, and sometimes I can find the show on there instead. If not, oh well, it's usually not a big deal. Still, it's disappointing to have something catch your eye, only to select it and be turned away.

Fast-forwarding / rewinding are unbearable

This is a total personal nitpick, but I cannot stand fast-forwarding or rewinding on PlayStation Vue. It bothers me more than it should, maybe. Unlike on cable and satellite, performing either of these actions is choppy to the point of being nearly unusable. Instead of seeing the content zoom by at a steady rate, the video usually freezes, then refreshes several seconds later, then freezes, then skips choppily a few frames, then freezes again. You have no idea whether you're past the commercials and back to your show without hitting play. Half the time I've gone too far and have to rewind. It's a guessing game every single time.

Seriously, fast-forwarding in PS Vue requires the patience of Job.