Lightweight, Portable and Sufficient.
Sony’s PlayStation TV represents an interesting mould of things. For one, it’s lightweight, portable and it plays most of the classic games a lot of us have grown up with along with a bunch of Vita titles. On the other hand, it doesn’t have a predetermined reach for the average gamer, begging the question of where it fits in the grand scheme of things.
The PlayStation TV has had its guts filled with the Vita’s hardware. Its OS is exactly the same bar the obvious lack of touchscreen, camera and gesture functionality. Measuring in at an incredibly small 2.6 x 4.1 x .5 inches, it’s akin to the size of a deck of cards. Yes – it’s that small. Its design is incredibly sleek as well, only allowing for the necessary ports to run the system while maintaining a stylish and clean look Sony products are known for. On the back of the system you’ll find the aforementioned ports, which are a small power button, a Memory Stick Micro card slot (it’s the same as the Vita’s memory cards), a USB port, an HDMI port, an ethernet port and a 5V battery connector. On the side you’ll also find a spot to pop in your Vita games if you buy them physically as well.
PS TV boasts a variety of functions, of those probably the most notable one is PS4 Remote Play. If you’re unaware of what Remote Play is, it’s simply a way of streaming a game from your PlayStation 4 to another device in your home over your wifi network. The PlayStation Vita used this function incredibly well, and the PS TV follows suit. I did notice that there were some lag issues along the way on the PS TV, but after plugging in an ethernet cord from my router it worked really well. I was also told that right now a wired connection is advised if you’re going to make use of this feature, so bear that in mind.
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Along with Remote Play comes a slew of other functions, as you’d expect. The ability to play a strong lineup of Vita games, classic PS1 games and delve back into the era of the wonderful PSP is great. Watching Crash Bandicoot and Patapon reemerge on my television was something I didn’t really expect to occur in 2014, and they played really well and didn’t look so bad either. Obviously some of the games aren’t in HD and the PS1 games especially suffer from the transition from standard definition to high definition and 4:3 to 16:9, but overall they looked good. PS Vita games look solid as well, and my time moving between Freedom Wars on the PS TV and PS Vita wasn’t as disjointed as I thought it’d be. In fact, as with many longer games these days on the Vita, I’ve longed for the ability to just sit down in my flat and play on the television instead of playing hunched over a small Vita screen. This made the PS TV a more attractive option when it came to playing these types of games, and long hours spent in Persona 4 Golden and Freedom Wars on the PS TV attest to that.
Watching Crash Bandicoot and Patapon reemerge on my television was something I didn’t really expect to occur in 2014, and they played really well and didn’t look so bad either.
I mentioned in my unboxing video the fact that you can seamlessly swap between your PS TV and Vita via the same memory card without too much hassle, and it became one of the sole reasons I began to form a serious appreciation for the PS TV. Having the ability to play a section of Freedom Wars on the TV, save the game, swap the card over to my Vita and jump on the train and resume playing was pretty great. Not only this, but the bubbles that are saved on the home screen don’t get muddled up every time you swap the card over to the other machine, which could have become a niggling issue if you took the memory card out every couple of days. All of your options, settings and the dashboard set up are saved within the database of both systems and all it takes is a quick rebuild of the database before you’re up and running.
One of the biggest topics I’ve talked through with friends is PlayStation TV’s place in the living room. We’ve seen the release of the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One and the incoming release of the Steam Box in 2015, and they’re all packing a significant punch in hardware improvements and next generation gaming. The PlayStation TV can’t boast any of the features the aforementioned systems can, and that’s where I can see it faltering heavily. PlayStation TV was originally named PlayStation Vita TV, and that’s what it really is. Its capacity to play PlayStation Vita games, PS1 games and PSP games is great, but for a micro-console that has to compete with the next generation gaming audience, I can’t help but feel it’s going to be lost in the tracks and only appeal to those that take a specific interest in it.
Perhaps I’m missing the gun a bit on that, because the PlayStation TV has a couple of strong marketing points – the first and most obvious one being its Remote Play functionality with the PlayStation 4. Remote Play functions really well in liaison with your PlayStation 4, and through this the idea of spending $150 instead of another $549 is viable. Likewise, the ability to play classic PlayStation titles is a welcomed one, but if you’re willing to fork out a substantial amount of money for just that I’d expect that you’d have all of these systems hooked up and ready to go, you’d have done your research into the TV and you’re still happy to drop the cash for it. This is where the biggest problem lies with the PlayStation TV, you can’t market it as a console because it doesn’t do enough to warrant that title and you can’t market it as an accessory because its price point is too steep, it really just stands firmly in between those two.
A relative of mine asked me about the PlayStation TV and if it’d be a good Christmas present for children, to which I said no, because there are much better options available on the market for specifically that purpose – most notably the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Wii U and Xbox One. The PlayStation TV appeals to a select group of people, and that’s where it’ll likely only do its business. A few others might fall into its beautiful grasp, but it doesn’t hold up enough on its own to warrant a standalone purchase. You need an extra USB cable and a DualShock 3 or 4 to even get it running, mind you the 1GB internal storage space won’t hold any of the games I mentioned above (if downloaded digitally), so you’ll be out on another $30 – $90 as well just to hold onto your saves.
The PlayStation TV appeals to a select group of people, and that’s where it’ll likely only do its business.
The PS TV’s output of 720p is nice to look at, and for the hardcore gamer will absolutely satisfy their appetite for long hours gaming on a DualShock 3 or 4 over the Vita’s much smaller buttons and thumbstick’s. This is truly a system that is designed for a niche market of gamers, and when you’re tapping into a market that’s significantly smaller than the PlayStation 4’s, sales won’t come very quickly.
For what it does, the PlayStation TV is an excellent device for those that have a sound amount of PlayStation products and want to interchange between them seamlessly and for those that want to dive back into the classics that made the PlayStation brand as popular as it is today. For those that would look at this as a console or a new pick up, I’d strongly recommend you save up a bit more and grab an actual console – as this will do you no justice. I’m at a loss when it comes to classifying what the PlayStation TV is, because even the TV side of things aren’t up and running at the moment. It’s a micro-console and accessory for those with PlayStation peripherals already and it works really well in unison with those products, but for those looking to jump into the console market for the first time or looking for a gift for one of their loved ones, this is not the peripheral to get.
The PlayStation TV is an option for those already invested in the PlayStation lifestyle. It’s a peripheral that will complement those who can afford its steep price point, but will not suffice for those wanting to buy a dedicated home console.
A review unit was provided by Sony.