Playstation TV – So What Exactly Is It?

The PlayStation has landed in our office over the last few days. We know that there is still a little bit of uncertainty around the device, so thought we’d lay down the basics of what the PlayStation TV can do before going into detail in our review.

The Playstation TV is releasing in Australia at the end of the week, but there’s still uncertainty about what the device is and what it can do. Having been released in Japan last year as the Playstation Vita TV and in the US a few weeks ago with little fanfare, you can be forgiven for thinking ‘Playstation What?’. According to Sony the Playstation TV is an ‘affordable micro console and entertainment system that will enable users to easily enjoy various game content and Playstation 4 remote play on the TV at home’. So what exactly does that mean?

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In essence it’s a PS Vita-like experience that you plug into your TV. The small black box (6.5cm x 10.5cm) contains the same chip sets and system software as the PSVita, and can be controlled by either a Dualshock 3 or Dualshock 4. It allows users to play a broad range of titles from the PS Vita library on the big screen, as well as PSP and PS One classics. For a full list of compatible titles see the Playstation Knowledge Centre

A primary feature of the device is the Remote Play functionality which is similar to the PS Vita experience. Remote Play allows users who already own a PS4 to connect their PSTV to another TV and play their PS4 titles without needing to purchase another console, providing both units are on the same network. Anyone who has used this feature with the PS Vita will know how great this experience can be. There is also potential to utilise Remote Play away from home and connect to your console via the Web. My personal experience in attempting this on the PS Vita has proven to be a hit and miss affair however.

PS_TV_REMOTE_PLAYThe Playstation TV will also give access to Sony’s Playstation Now game rental service once it’s rolled out. The reception of the service has been mixed during the Beta, with criticisms aimed at the limited library and pricing model. With Australia’s internet speeds not being much better than two cans joined by a piece of string, just how well Playstation Now will work here remains to be seen.

The main promotion of the PSTV has been aimed towards its uses in the home, either extending your gaming experiences to another room or playing PS Vita titles on the big screen. Being able to play PS Vita games means that when you grow tired of holding your PS Vita, you can transfer the cards over to the PSTV and continue on the big screen with a proper controller. Resolution is limited at 1080i/720p, although that may not be a problem dependant on how well the PS Vita experience upscales to the big screen. Playing multimedia through it should still be an acceptable experience though, with your PS Vita capable of acting as a remote control if so desired.

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One aspect that hasn’t been discussed much is uses outside of the home. Imagine this scenario. You’re flying across the country and thoroughly enjoying a bit of Freedom Wars action on your PS Vita in the process. Once you get to your hotel room, break out the PS TV, transfer your game and memory card over, and continue on the big screen with a proper controller. If you’ve got the bandwidth you could also stream multimedia from the Playstation Store, and possibly even Remote Play into your console at home. As someone who travels a lot, it is this potential use that excites me.

How the Playstation TV performs in Australia remains to be seen, especially in light of its reception in other markets. I’m sure as time progresses more uses will come to light, but I’m afraid that the usual restrictions on services such as Netflix and our poor internet speeds may limit its appeal. Personally I’m looking forward to the PSTV and have had one on pre-order since day one. For $150 it still remains an interesting proposition and a much cheaper option than buying another console. What I see as its main selling point is its potential, even if some consider it’s current offerings somewhat lacking.

The PlayStation TV is out in Australia on Friday November the 14th for $149.95. Be sure to keep an eye on Press-Start for our upcoming review.

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