The PlayStation TV is an interesting venture for Sony into the micro console market. While not necessarily a set-top box akin to the Apple TV or Roku, the PlayStation TV does hit a few good marks while creating a few head scratching moments.
The PlayStation TV is essentially a PlayStation Vita removed of it’s screen, buttons and handheld portability.
Small at only an inch larger than a playing card with the thickness of half an inch, the PlayStation TV is surprisingly solid and sleek. The Ethernet port, HDMI output, USB port, power button, memory card slot, power connection are all located on the rear of the device. On the side is a Vita card slot for physical Vita games. The top is engraved with the PlayStation logo while the front face is marked with Sony and a led light when powered on. It’s simple and can become hidden if you have black Ikea furniture like I do.
Syncing a DualShock 3 or DualShock 4 is as easy as plugging in the device into the USB port and holding the PlayStation Home button until it connects. The HDMI output can be set to either 1080i, 720p or 480p. Connecting to the internet can be done with either WiFi or Ethernet cable. Bluetooth is available to connect headsets or other audio outputs.
If you don’t have a PlayStation Vita but want to play Vita games the PlayStation TV will do the job but with a few glaring issues.
The Vita in the course of it’s lifetime has compiled a great list of exclusive titles. Soul Sacrifice, Persona 4 Golden and many other titles have graced the system and if you for some reason don’t like handheld systems but wish to play those titles the PlayStation TV is a great substitute. If you missed out on the PlayStation Portable (PSP) or even the original PlayStation titles, the PSTv can play the digital versions. This backwards compatibly isn’t without it’s issues. Select Vita, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation One classic titles are compatible with the device with no rhyme or reason to why they work or don’t. This Wikipedia page has an extensive accurate list so you can plan accordingly.
What about the touch screen?
Clicking in the thumb sticks activates onscreen hands allowing you to use rear and front touch controls in conjunction with the L2 and R2 triggers on the DualShock controller. It is a bit clunky but works when needed in some titles. While this may not be ideal for some games, it’s better than no support at all.
Remote Play can be great when it functions.
If you have a PlayStation 4 and want to game in your bedroom while it sits comfortably in your living room, the PlayStation TV’s remote play can do that for you. Though, not without some sacrifices. Games running on the PS4 at 1080p are down-scaled to 720p with a capped frame rate at 30. Of course, due to the nature of streaming there is a bit of input lag which can be lessened depending on your home network. An upcoming update to the PlayStation 4 will allow Remote Play at 1080p at 60 frames per second.
Apps are lacking.
Certain apps on the Vita are not available for the PSTv. Missing apps like Hulu and Netflix dampers the PSTv’s ability to be a full fledged device to contend with Roku or Apple TV. Granted while that may not be the market Sony is targeting it is disappointing as almost every device can utilize Hulu and Netflix. Crackle and Crunchy Roll’s anime streaming service, are available and work as intended. If you’re looking to use this device for streaming media, you may find yourself lacking many of the options similar devices have.
The PlayStation TV is affordable for good and possibly bad reasons.
Released originally at $99 the PlayStation TV has seen numerous price cuts and now hovers around the $79 price point. A bundle including the device, a DualShock 3, an eight gigabyte memory card and The Lego Movie Video Game sits around $99. Sony could be looking to expand the PlayStation TV and would like it to supplement the PlayStation 4 or they have a large back-stock and are looking to off-load the device. Of course this is all speculation but seeing how Sony has been rather mum in supporting the PlayStation Vita, this trend may also effect the PlayStation TV.
My personal usage.
I dove head first into Persona 4 Golden, a highly recommended PS Vita Japanese RPG from the fine folks at Atlus, as my first PSTV game. Spending over 80 hours with it, the PSTV remained on throughout the weeks I played. The one feature that is a godsend is the Suspend Mode. Putting the PlayStation TV into this mode while I attend life outside of P4 Golden’s Inaba, meant I could come right back where I left off without having to reach a save point.
So the question remains, Should you get a PlayStation TV?
Ask yourself, do you wish to play PlayStation Vita titles but dislike handhelds? Did you miss out on PlayStation Portable or PlayStation One titles and wish to play them on the big screen? There are a few issues, the lack of apps, compatibility with certain titles and the Bubble UI but the PlayStation TV is still a sleek little device.
Seriously though as of 6-29-2015, its only 39.99 at Best Buy.