What is PlayStation TV?PS TV is here. But what is it? PlayStation TV is a tiny box that attaches to your TV and lets you play games and stream video whether or not you have a PS3 or PS4.
It’ll cost around £100 and arrives later this year. But here’s everything you need to know for now.
Meet PS TV...
10. PS TV supports DualShock 3 and 4 PlayStation controllersOne of the issues with set top box-style game systems like Ouya and Gamestick is their rubbish controllers. PS TV, on the other hand, uses the exact same pads as the PS3 and PS4.
The tiny box can be used with either kind of controller, but the baseline package does not come with one. Sony will sell a slightly more expensive bundle that comes with a DualShock 3 pad – the kind used with the PS3, not the latest DualShock 4 of the PS4. We imagine it may have a good few million DualShock 3s left over from the PS3.
If you already own a PS4, one of the neatest tricks of PlayStation TV is that it can act as a second PS4. Using the same Remote Play tech we’ve seen in action in the PS Vita, the PS TV can stream gameplay from the PS4 in your lounge.
9. It’ll act as a ‘second PS4’ through Remote Play
There will be a visual fidelity hit thanks to the streamed/compressed nature of the video, but it’s a lot cheaper than buying a second PS4. You’ll need to make sure there’s a strong Wi-Fi network throughout your house, though, as Remote Play does require a good connection to work properly.
PS TV uses very similar internals to the PS Vita, which is one of the reasons why Sony has been able to make the box while working full pelt on the launch and development of the PS4. It has a quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, the PowerVR SGX543MP4-plus GPU and 512MB of RAM, and can play Vita games natively.
8. PS TV uses the same core hardware as the PS Vita
As such, it’s not as powerful as the latest whizz-bang Android phones, but then this box is not about playing the latest games natively. It’s an accessible, low-cost little box.
The PS TV has been sold already, but under a different name. The Vita TV launched in Japan in late 2013, and was effectively a test run of PS TV, in a friendlier market. It was white, not black like the PS TV, but hardware-wise they're near-identical.
7. It’s (roughly) the same as Vita TV, launched in Japan last year
Vita TV sold 42,000 units in its first week – hardly a smash hit – but by the time PS TV launches in Europe and the UK, it will (hopefully) offer far more features than the Vita TV did at launch.
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6. It will stream PS/PS2/PS3 games through PlayStation NowFor people who don’t already own a PS4, one of the main draws of the PS TV box is its support for PlayStation Now. This is Sony’s game streaming service, using the Gaikai technology Sony acquired back in 2012.
It will let you stream older PlayStation games, including PS3 titles, over your home internet connection. The exact payment model for accessing these games is yet to be announced, but Sony says you’ll be able to play over 1000 of these streamed games at launch.
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5. It costs £84.99
Sony did not announce the UK price of the PS TV at the box's launch, but we now know that it will cost £84.99 in the UK. According to T3 that includes a Dual Shock 3 controller, making it a pretty good deal. Pads alone cost £30 or more, making the extra cost of the box itself prety easy to swallow.
In the US, PS TV will cost $99.99 for a basic package without a pad, or $139.99 with a Dual Shock 3. Sony seems to have pitched the price fairly well here, being a fair bit lower than the cost of a PS3.
4. It has a card slot, but it’s a Vita card slotThe PS TV box has a memory card slot but – predictably enough – it doesn’t use the standard SD format. Instead, it uses the Vita memory card type, a proprietary card system whose cards cost a fair bit more than the norm.
However, if you already own a Vita, this could be seen as a good thing as you will be able to play Vita games stored on the card. You can buy a 16GB memory card for around £25.
One of the disappointing technical limitations of the PS TV is that is tops out at 1080i/720p output, missing out on the 1080p video that has long been the standard. While this isn’t really a deal-breaker for game streaming – where the quality is naturally slightly compromised – it’s not good news for people who are thinking about getting a PS TV to stream video through.
3. PS TV doesn’t output in 1080p or surround sound
Audio output too is pretty basic. It is limited to two channels, ruling-out getting proper surround sound from the box. This is deeply disappointing.
2. It’ll get Sony Video Unlimited streaming, but Netflix is TBCWill Sony’s proprietary approach kill PS TV? It’s one of our worries. Sony has a raft of streaming services to promote – Sony Video Unlimited, Sony Music Unlimited – but will it also offer streaming from more popular services like Netflix?
We’re waiting for confirmation, but it seems likely that it will, in time. In Japan, Vita TV offers streaming from Hulu, which is a rival for Sony Video Unlimited. So unless Sony is really to change its strategy in the US and Europe, it seems likely we’ll get Netflix, especially given there’s already an app for Netflix on PS Vita.
The PS TV supports Vita games downloaded to a memory card. However, not all Vita games will work because the standard DualShock 3 pad simply doesn’t have all the inputs of the Vita.
1. It will support Vita games, but not all Vita games
The handheld has a rear touch panel, dual cameras and a touchscreen. You don’t get any of those with a DualShock 3. Games that use these Vita extras include FIFA 12, Uncharted, Tearaway and others. It is a big problem. For more on this, you can check out Sony Japan's list of Vita TV compatible games. (In Japanese)
PS TV has great potential, but it’s also deeply limited in some respects. It uses hardware that’s about three years out of date by some standards and its audio-visual credentials are pretty poor.
So is PS TV any good? And When is it coming out?
However, the Sony ecosystem is starting to look pretty great, especially if you have a PS3 or PS4 and are signed up to PlayStation Plus. We’ll be taking a closer look when it’s released, which will be this Autumn – pointing to a likely September release.
Next, read all the news from E3 2014