While Sony’s PlayStation4 is currently enjoying a modest amount of success against Nintendo’s WiiU and Microsoft’s Xbox One, the same can’t be said for the hand-held version — the PlayStation Vita. To try to alleviate this problem, as well as break into a market that competitors like Apple and Google currently have a presence in, Sony has released the PlayStation TV. While Sony’s attempt to move the Vita into the living room brings many great features, the overall package still suffers from some major flaws.
Upon turning on the console, Vita owners will be greeted to a very familiar sight: the PS Vita’s menu. Scaled up from its hand-held counterpart, the PlayStation TV sports many of the same functionalities within its menu.
Gone are Vita hardware features like the front and back touchscreen, camera and microphone. PS TV is compatible with the DUALSHOCK3 controller and most recently the PS4’s DUALSHOCK4 controller (but the headphone jack and touchpad are currently unusable).
The PlayStation TV requires an HDMI connection and can be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or an ethernet cable. A USB connector allows for synchronizing controllers to the console. PlayStation TV has slots for PS Vita memory cards and PS Vita games.
Games and apps
The PlayStation TV can natively play games from the PS Vita, PSP and PS One, but with a major catch: Only select PS Vita games will work on the console (mostly games that do not depend on the PS Vita’s hardware), and only digital downloads of PSP and PS One games work on the console. A list of the compatible games can be found on Sony’s website.
PlayStation 3 titles are also playable through Sony’s PlayStation Now streaming service. At the moment, the PlayStation Now is still undergoing major improvements, and the pricing on some of the rentals is quite high. A powerful connection is also required to stream games properly, but when streamed properly, games like Ultra Street Fighter4 played well with little problems.
PS TV’s app market is very slim. Only three apps are currently available, and none include major video-streaming apps like Netflix. Vita apps are not supported. Videos and movies can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store.
While most of these problems can be fixed with software patches, in some cases the one major problem that hangs over the console is storage. Many Vita games are larger than two gigabytes, and even the special bundle comes with only an eight gigabyte card. Storage is limited to the proprietary PS Vita memory cards, which are still overpriced compared with the more common SD cards.
Graphics can be a hit or miss on the PlayStation TV. Some titles like Final FantasyXHDRemaster and Killzone: Mercenary actually appear quite spectacular on larger screens — PSP games and some Vita titles not so much. Games streamed through PlayStation Now also look quite sharp, as well as PS4 games streamed through the Remote Play function, but not without the occasional hiccup.
PS TV’s multiplayer functions work well and are fully compatible with local ad-hoc gameplay with PS Vita. The console supports up to four controllers via Bluetooth for local multiplayer gameplay.
There is no arguing the PlayStation TV’s technical strength, but the console release feels lazy and incomplete. The virtually non-existent app selection and the extensive limitations on the playable titles really weigh down something that could have been a serious contender in the living room.
If you already have a Vita and PS4, the PlayStation TV really won’t be competing for real estate in your living room. If you’re looking for a budget console with a decent-sized library of games, the PSTV is worth checking out. If you’re looking for a streaming box replacement, the PSTV is a poor choice at the moment.
PS TV still has a long way to go before it becomes a true contender among the living room consoles or even finds a specialized niche. Hopefully, first-party support, as well as a deeper app market, will help push the console forward in the future.
PlayStation TV: $99.99.
PlayStation TV Bundle: $139.99 (includes PlayStation TV, DUALSHOCK 3 controller, ‘The Lego Movie Videogame‘ voucher, 8GB memory card and HDMI cable).