More than meets the eye
There was a time when streaming video and game content to your television meant shelling out a couple hundred dollars. Now? There are plenty of sub-$100 devices designed to do just that, ranging from the Ouya to Apple TV to Roku--and now Sony's got its own ultra-affordable unit: the PlayStation Vita TV. It plays games. It streams videos and music. And it can even stream PS4 games remotely.
With all of these features packed into such a tiny box, the PS Vita TV is a strong contender in the micro-console market. Looking for more details? Here's everything we know about the machine.
It has the guts of a Vita sans the display and touch pads
The PS Vita TV is a Vita, just not in mobile form. It runs on the same GPU and Cortex A9 quad core processor as its handheld predecessor, but the OLED touch screen and rear touch pad have been stripped away. Instead, it connects to a display via an HDMI cable, supporting both 720p and 1080i output. Sorry, no 1080p here. Other connectivity features include the Vita's standard WiFi/Bluetooth setup, a USB 2.0 port, and a 100Mb LAN Ethernet port.
It plays PSOne, PSP, and PS Vita games...
One important thing that separates the PS Vita TV from other micro-consoles: it has access to a huge library of games. Sure, the Ouya plays Android games, but that offering pales in comparison to the catalog of the PlayStation Store. Downloadable PSOne and PSP games are supported, and, if you already own hard copies of Vita games, you can insert them directly into the Vita TV and play them that way. That means you can jump into Persona 4: Golden before switching to Final Fantasy Tactics or Twisted Metal 2. Also, keep in mind you'll still have to rely on proprietary memory sticks, though it does come with 1GB of onboard storage. Oh, and there's one other important thing
...but not all Vita games are supported
With two touch screens at its disposal, the Vita is an enticing platform for developers interested in touch-based mechanics. Take away those touch screens, though, and you're left with a device that can only play some Vita games, not all. Titles that require the use of touchpads won't work on the Vita TV, which is sure to disappoint those interested in unsupported games, like the fantastic Gravity Rush. Assuming you can read Japanese, or know how to use Google Translate, this list of supported Vita games will probably come in handy. Ohhhh, can't wait to play the riveting "20 times more Japan Professional Mahjong League official recognition! How - First Intermediate Hen that Mahjong is strongly" on the TV.
You'll use a DualShock 3 or 4 to navigate its menus
As seen in this promotional trailer, you'll have to navigate the menus of the PS Vita TV via a DualShock 3 controller, though PS4 controllers will work after support is patched in in the future (maybe that'll alleviate some of the problems that getting rid of the touchpads produced?). In Japan, Sony will offer two different SKUs: One with just the console, as well as a bundle that includes a DualShock 3 gamepad, an 8GB Vita memory stick, and the Vita TV.
You can use it to stream PS4 games to a different display
This may be the biggest draw for those planning on picking up a PS4 in the near future. Say your PS4 is connected to your big screen in the living room, but your family is watching TV. If you connect the PS Vita TV to a separate display with an HDMI connection, you can then stream games from your PS4 to the PS Vita TV, a move that could make the PS Vita TV Sony's smartest piece of hardware in years. Pretty neat, eh?
It can stream video and music services
Of course, Sony will likely market the PS Vita TV as a competitive alternative to the likes of Apple TV, so online services are important. Media options will largely be dictated by regional restrictions, though Sony's proprietary video and music services will undoubtedly be available, in addition to YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu. In fact, we'd be surprised if all of the streaming options on the PS3 don't show up on the PS Vita TV.
It's a little bigger than a smartphone
Your entertainment stand is probably a tad crowded these days, and it's quite likely you'll have even less space in the very near future. Thankfully the PS Vita TV is extremely compact, measuring in at 6.5 cm x 10.5 cm x 1.36 cm. And, being as small as it is, it's very light as well, weighing a paltry 110g.
It's fairly inexpensive
Again, there have been no official announcements regarding a North American release date or price for the PS Vita TV, but we do know how much it'll cost in Japan. The console-only SKU will launch for 9954 (about $95 USD), while the bundle including a DualShock 3 and 8GB memory stick will cost 14,994 (about $150 USD). We'd be pretty shocked if NA pricing deviated much from the Japanese equivalents.
What are your thoughts on the PS Vita TV? Are you planning on getting one if and when it comes to North America, or do you think it's redundant? Let us know in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more, check out why the PS Vita TV could be Sony's smartest piece of hardware in years and 10 gamers you'll meet during the console wars.