In late 2013, Sony unveiled its first and thus far only micro console, The PlayStation TV. In 2014 it launched in the U.S starting at $99 dollars, now its dropped in price considerably in some retailers.
Many of you may be asking what exactly is the PlayStation TV, it’s a micro console that can hook up to the back of an HDTV and stream PS Now games, stream your PS4 to another room in your house, play select PS1 games from the PSN store, and select Vita Games with the help of an included DuelShock 3 or an extra DuelShock 4 controller.
The PlayStation TV, is a sleek tiny black box that has the exact same hardware specs similar to the Vita and can provide video output up to 720p. The device can also take Vita memory cards in place of its 1 GB of on board storage.
While the device’s use of the word “TV” might invoke feelings of Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services, the truth is, it has none of them. It doesn’t even use Sony’s own services, such as their music application or anything. It’s a jarring omission and often gives the impression that the device has the potential for so much more than it’s maker will allow.
Now as a console, the PlayStation TV has a little more going on, albeit not by much. The limitations begin when you look at the limited PS1 games it can play – this seems to be for no apparent reason. The TV has a Vita card slot to load PS Vita games, but not all of them will work properly unless the developer patches PSTV support in, which only a select few have done – to make up for the lack of touchscreen support, you are able to use either DuelShock controllers – though the effect is awkward and out-of-place.
The price of the device has dropped considerably, (at the time of this post the PS TV can be picked up at any Gamestop for $39 or $29 if pre-owned) any trace of real value as a dedicated micro console is immediately swept away when you realize that the on board 1GB of storage makes it impossible to store large amounts of games, so the need to buy expensive memory cards takes hold, making the device a less portable, less functional – with no real sense of value.
There are two things that the PSTV does better than the Vita, that make its price point amazingly compelling and almost a must buy, those features are its ability to remote play with a DuelShock controller to the TV (something the Vita can’t do) and PS Now and its ability to use a DuelShock controller as opposed to awkward onscreen buttons. It’s these two points that have the PSTV go from failure as a streaming box for media to a second PS4 that can be used on any HDTV. That aspect alone makes the PSTV the single best accessory for the PS4 (minus the Vita) at an insane price point.
It can also be connected via an Ethernet port, making it’s streaming capabilities much more enjoyable than over a WiFi connection.
Price Point. The low-cost of the device makes it very affordable for people who have invested in the Sony ecosystem and have a few Vita memory cards lying around.
Remote Play. The only real reason to buy the device, it acts as a smaller PS4 in case you ever need to move to another TV in the house. If you are using a DuelShock 4, then you are already in a perfect spot to start gaming with almost no lull in the action. I can’t begin to count how many times I have used this feature on my second monitor at home and it has made the PSTV a perfect add-on to my setup.
All of the Vita’s limited backwards compatibility, and awkward Vita controls for Vita games that seem almost like an afterthought.
Proprietary Memory Cards eliminate any real value of the device as a dedicated micro console, making the cheaper entry price a hassle to support in the long-term.
Limited on board storage. Seriously? 1 GB out of the box? I can’t even download Final Fantasy 7 with that….it’s almost laughable.
So would I consider this a must buy?
To be honest the PlayStation TV is a very hard sell. It’s faults really make it a laughable contender as a dedicated streaming box and it’s again, arbitrary limitations on PSOne, PSP, Mini’s and Vita titles honestly don’t make it a decent micro console. Even with these limitations on gaming and media consumption, it does do Remote Play extremely well – it’s worth buying just for that alone. Remote Play gives users the ability to play PS4 in potentially any room you place it, making it more convenient as a secondary PS4 you can use, when the television your PS4 is connected too is in use. So really, I would only buy the PSTV if you have a PS4 and you want to be able to continue gaming in another room. In that regard, it’s a stellar buy as a micro console or even a replacement to a Roku or even a Google Chromecast. Still the PSTV is a pile of sadness and regret, topped with lost potential.