Gadgets: PlayStation TV Review

Today I received my PlayStation TV through the post and I’ve spent much of the last 8 hours playing around with the micro-console and it’s safe to say – I love it.

Before I get into the review, let’s just have a quick re-cap as to what the PlayStation TV actually is.

The PlayStation TV started began life in Japan as the PS Vita TV and released as such. The PlayStation TV is practically the same piece of kit as the PS Vita TV, though the unit is now black instead of white, most likely so that it sits nicely alongside your black PS4 (white edition releasing this Friday!) and your other appliances, most of which will no doubt be black.

The main function of the PlayStation TV is to provide a cheaper way to game; you can play PS Vita games, though not all are compatible and it’ll act as a streaming device for your PS4 games as well as being able to stream PS3, PS2 and PSOne games further down the line via PlayStation Now.

So, the question is – is it any good?

From the time I’ve spent with the PlayStation TV, I can honestly say it’s the best hundred quid I’ve spent in a long time. The unit’s small form is just as light as the PS Vita on which its internal organs are designed from, so it sits quite nicely under the telly with minimal fuss.

Setting up the mini-console was as painless as can be; simply connect the HDMI lead from the PlayStation TV to the television, plug in the power lead and connect to your home internet network and you’re ready to go. If I’m honest (which I really should be, this is a review after all,) I did have a minor issue with the leads and cables. The length of the power cable left a lot to be desired, it was too damn short! At first I didn’t care much about seeing the console sit on the floor so that it could reach the plug adapter, but it was enough of an inconvenience that I dug out on of the extension cables. Worth noting if you’re TV setup is anything like mine – a disorganised mess that needs to be closer to the plug sockets.

Connecting your DualShock 3 or DualShock 4 controller is pretty easy too, just plug it in and sync it with the console and voila, you’re done and ready to start navigating the system.

Navigation should be instantly familiar to anybody who owns or has previously owned a PS Vita as it’s more or less the same deal here with the circular icons, though there have been some changes to accommodate for non-touch controls. Simply flicking the stick between icons is how you’ll move around and select which games you want to access, it works rather well too with no input lag.

The PlayStation TV can run games straight from a PS Vita game cartridge or PS Vita memory card. You’ll definitely need the latter if you’re to have any hope of getting the majority of your games digitally. If you already own a PS Vita and have a memory card full of games, you can chuck that bad boy into the memory card slot and fire away, if you’re games are compatible (full list here.)

The first game I tried out was Killzone: Mercenary which has recently been patched to support play on the PlayStation TV. It boots up just as you’d expect and it runs almost exactly the same as it does on the PS Vita. The image quality doesn’t take a hit either, though at times it’s harder to not notice the imperfections when they’re presented to you on a huge TV rather than on the PS Vita’s 5 inch display.

The controls worked fine, in fact I’d probably say I had an easier time playing with a DualShock 3 than I ever did using the PS Vita’s tiny analogue sticks, mainly because I’m a man with big man-hands but partly because of the analogue sticks ease of movement. I’ve always found the PS Vita sticks to be a little harder to control than those of a regular controller and it’s because they don’t have the same movement range.

Next up I decided to try and give Uncharted: Golden Abyss a go. I’d always wondered what the game would look like on a bigger screen and I even expected Sony to re-release the game on the PS3, but it’s never happened and for the time being I’ll never know it on anything other than the PS Vita’s screen – it’s not compatible.

It’s rather irksome that one of the best and most recognised games for the PS Vita isn’t available on the PlayStation TV, though it’s understandable. The game does make heavy use of the touch screen, rear touchpad, camera and movement controls, something the DualShock 3 and DualShock 4 just can’t do.

There are still plenty of games that are readily available to play, though it’s not as many as I would have liked, but that’s just my personal opinion. Maybe we’ll see some games get patched later on and made available, it’d make sense.

Now onto streaming PS4 games. This was the most talked up feature by Sony and other critics, but for me it’s not really my main reason for getting the console. Whilst it’s nice to have the option to stream your PS4 games to another screen should the other half want the telly, I have a PS Vita that is more than capable of doing just that, allowing me to go and game in the garden if I feel the need and not be constrained to a TV.

Still, personal preference aside, the feature works pretty darn well. Connecting to your PS4 is a doddle and most importantly, there’s no lag. Or at least none that affects my enjoyment.

Image quality doesn’t take too much of a hit and games still manage to look great on my older HDTV, though there is a slight difference. Whether this is down to my second TV being older and not as high quality, I cannot say. What I can say is that it runs swimmingly. Games boot up and load just as fast as they would if you were sitting in front of the PS4. Jumping into a quick game of Call of Duty: Ghosts was the real test for useability and it passed with flying colours.

I rarely experienced any input lag and when I did it was for a split second, most likely due to spikes in my network (I was downloading a game to the Xbox One at the time.) Overall I’d say the service was perfectly, well, serviceable, though there are some things missing, things that Sony didn’t say would be missing.

Netflix. Where’s my bloody Netflix?! When Sony says that the PlayStation TV will support video playback they don’t mean Netflix or Amazon Video, at least not at the moment. Instead you’ll have to make do with the expensive offerings on the PlayStation Store. I thought I’d be clever and try streaming Netflix through the PS4, but alas, no luck as it isn’t supported. It’s not the end of the world as I’ve got around ten other devices perfectly capable of running Netflix, but the option would have been nice. I do expect that we’ll see Netflix and other streaming apps for the PlayStation TV sometime down the line though, so don’t lose sleep over it.

Summary

Does the PlayStation TV deserve a place in your home? A home that’s probably crammed with other electronics all vying for your attention? Simply put – yes. Even if you don’t own a PS4 you should be giving this a shot, especially if you don’t own a PS Vita either. You’re basically getting a PS Vita, minus the portability and console-specific hardware features for half the cost.

If you do own a PS Vita and a PS4, I’d still say it’s worth it for less than £85. The hardware is decent and the build quality is nothing to sniff it. It works as intended though it could do with a few more games being made compatible as well as some streaming services. Other than that, it’s bloody brilliant.

The PlayStation TV is out now in the US and will be releasing in the UK and Europe from November 14th. You can pre-order yours from Amazon UK and get £25 worth of free games, not bad eh?

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