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Hands On With PlayStation TV

Putting the TV in PlayStvation.

PlayStation TV is one of the most impressive pieces of kit I’ve seen. It’s primary focus in Western markets is for Remote Play – Sony are pushing it as a multi-room solution for your PS4, so that you can jump from playing a game on the big screen in your sitting room to another screen in your bedroom, gaming room or elsewhere.

It’s a tiny device, both smaller than lighter than your phone, but comes with four ports on the back including an AC adapter with a surprisingly small power brick in tow, an ethernet port (but it still has WiFi, don’t worry), an HDMI port, and a USB port for syncing or charging your controllers (it supports both DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 as methods of input). There’s also a memory card slot, which uses the Vita’s proprietary cards, and then a slot for Vita games.

The original name of PlayStation Vita TV makes a lot of sense, as it shares many similarities with Sony’s handheld console. There’s still the LiveArea screen, though it’s controlled with buttons rather than touch commands, and actually works quite well, and many of the applications are similar to those found on Vita – there’s even the native Twitter and Facebook apps.

Obviously, this is all upscaled to the big screen so doesn’t look quite the part, and the bubbles layout is more suited to a touch device, but perhaps the UI will have an overhaul in the future. For now, it allows you to play Vita games on the big screen using a controller, and although I didn’t get to see these in action, it was explained that these would be upscaled in a similar way. Hopefully they don’t suffer too much, but we’ll have to wait before we can see them in action.

With DualShock 4 controllers able to be used to play games, I did wonder whether the Vita’s touch controls would work via the touchpad, though this doesn’t appear to be the case – it seems as though games will have touch controls mapped to other buttons, such as melee attacks in Killzone, but games such as Tearaway may not be playable due to their heavy focus on all of the Vita’s functionality that this system simply cannot offer.

PSTV1

PlayStation TV will also act as a client device for PlayStation Now, which is an extremely exciting prospect, offering thousands of games for a budget-priced system. Sony’s game streaming service is still a long way off in Europe, so it ultimately hinges around Remote Play, and the aforementioned in-home streaming of PS4 games.

Thankfully, this aspect is extremely refined and works really well, at least in the controlled and ethernet-connected set-up in Sony’s meeting room at E3. Although it downscales the game to 720p, I could stream inFamous Second Son from the PS4 set-up to the PlayStation TV, and it worked seamlessly without lag. It’s slightly blurrier in places and doesn’t quite have the crisp look of a new generation, but the input time is identical whether you’re playing on PS4 or streaming to PSTV, and that’s an achievement in itself.

I did ask whether streaming games would work over the internet – as the PlayStation Vita manages where the speed on both ends is fast enough – and was told that although Sony don’t recommend this, that it would work in the same way as the Vita. So it’s a solution for that too: providing the internet connection is fast enough, you won’t need to take your PS4 round to your friends or when travelling; all you’ll need is a device which is smaller than your wallet, and one which won’t make an impact on your savings.

PSTVremote

One disappointing aspect is in the entertainment services – or lack of thereof. While the TV in the name may suggest otherwise, this is simply not a viable option for streaming content right now. There’s no Netflix, for example, and due to copyright issues you won’t even be able to stream Netflix over Remote Play. Sony are planning to bring entertainment services to the platform, but as of now it remains a very gaming focused device.

That’s not entirely a bad thing – it’s ultimately saving you from buying another PS4 for the bedroom, or lugging your console about every time you want to play a game. Think about this: you’re playing a game in the sitting room, but your flatmate/girlfriend/boyfriend/parent/sibling demands to use the television. You can simply pause, head upstairs, and jump right back in – even if you’re playing local multiplayer with a friend – and never lose progress or game time.

PlayStation TV is a real evolution of Sony’s efforts with Remote Play on the PlayStation Vita, to the point where it almost makes the handheld moot. The PlayStation Vita still has the portability, but for streaming your PS4 games to another screen, PSTV is definitely the best choice, as you’re essentially getting that full, big-screen experience in another room without moving your PS4 an inch.

21 Comments
  1. Youles
    Member
    Since: Feb 2011

    At first I thought how small it would be to carry around – but then I thought about the power supply, HDMI cable, controller…

    Anyway, will be great for me just to use at home, can have it hooked up via Ethernet, same as my PS4, for streaming PS4 to another room. Will be good if the Netflix support gets added, and for use with PlayStation Now.

    Can’t imagine I’ll use it for playing Vita games though.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 16:28.
  2. leeroye
    Member
    Since: May 2012

    Im not really surprised that there is not Netflix App and dont expect one either. The Vita doesnt even have one in the UK yet despite it being available to the US since Vita’s launch.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 16:33.
    • paxpacis
      Member
      Since: Forever

      I’m still confused about this because I read some forum posts with conversations of both Sony and Netflix and Sony pointing to Netflix and Netflix pointing to Sony.

      In the end we still are unable to Netflix on Vita in “Europe.”

      (If you have 2 memorycards you could create a US version of your Vita but everytime you want to play on the other card you have to re-install your Vita.. but it gives you Netflix if you really really want it..)

      So: @Sony @Netflix just put the US App on the EU store and let us watch your content..

      Comment posted on 20/06/2014 at 15:58.
  3. rob_b
    Member
    Since: Jan 2014

    The Vita’s portability is the entire reason it exists, so to call it moot apart from that is a bit silly no?

    Hopefully the TV services will come soon (no Netflix for the UK on the Vita yet there is in the US) it’s a massive stretch of the truth to have TV in the title in my opinion considering the non existent offerings on the platform.

    Here’s hoping it takes off (not so sure myself) and keeps devs developing for it and therefore the normal vita.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 17:25.
    • ghost5
      Member
      Since: Oct 2008

      I think the biggest problem with having TV in the name is that people will expect it to do the same as play TV.
      Even though it’s a small market who owns play TV a couple of my friends already expect it to do the same.

      Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 19:19.
      • ModernJunk
        Member
        Since: Oct 2009

        I honestly wish it did

        Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 19:45.
  4. Bilbo_bobbins
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    Sold ! Definitely a great idea for me who gets fed up with having to watch UK greatest model while I pick my nose in disgust. Now I can pick my nose on the other tv and enjoy playing the ps4.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 17:28.
  5. Avenger
    Member
    Since: Oct 2012

    The lack of Netflix and Instant Prime tends to hurt this a little, but nevertheless PS4 streaming to anywhere in the home is certainly a big feature. It’s a shame they couldn’t of modified the UI, even with some hotkey style commands so that friends/voice chat could easily be brought up. Neat idea anyway.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 17:28.
  6. NotSmartEnough
    Member
    Since: Sep 2013

    Not too worried about the lack of streaming apps, my main reason for getting one is remote play. Luckily I pre-ordered when Amazon was having a senior moment and got it for £55!

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 19:16.
  7. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Wow. Sounds awesome.

    I still want to buy the white ps4 even though I own the black one ha :-)

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 19:28.
    • JR.
      Member
      Since: Apr 2013

      Seriously considering selling my black ps4 for a white one. I know it’s a little ridiculous but it’s so pretty.

      Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 20:10.
  8. TheShepanator
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Does it use the same ‘power brick’ as the portable vita charger?

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 19:39.
  9. iBirch
    Member
    Since: May 2009

    Defo getting one of these for the bedroom.

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 20:01.
  10. coxy1701
    Member
    Since: Apr 2014

    Decent piece of kit. I wonder if it will allow you play videos & music via sd cards as shown on the picture icons above?

    Comment posted on 19/06/2014 at 20:29.

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