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Talking Point: Are You in Tune with Sony's Multifunctional PS Vita TV?

Posted by Sammy Barker

Mixed reception

Who would have thought that a PlayStation Vita without a screen could be so curiously compelling? You wouldn’t have got very good odds on PS Vita TV being announced before Sony’s surprise pre-Tokyo Game Show press conference earlier in the month, but it’s quickly gone on to establish itself as one of the most in-demand PlayStation accessories in production. But are you on the same wavelength as the unexpected gadget – or do you feel that the device is out of sync with your needs?

In truth, the Frankenstein format is a bit of strange product. It takes advantage of the Vita’s operating system, providing you with access to all of the features and functionality of Sony’s portable platform. The difference is that PS Vita TV is very much a stationary device, boasting an HDMI output that plugs directly into your television. Hooking the slender system up allows you to stream movies – either from the PlayStation Store or through on-board applications – as well as play hundreds of PlayStation titles on a big screen.

But there are caveats. For starters, without access to the Vita’s native touch surfaces – the miniscule machine will support the DualShock 3 at first, but will later add compatibility for the DualShock 4 – not all titles will function. Little Deviants, for instance, will simply not be compatible with the gizmo, because there’s no way to replicate the required front and rear touchpad on a traditional controller. Some games that make minimal use of these additional inputs – like Soul Sacrifice, for example – will be updated to support the unit, but that may not be such a positive thing moving forwards.

There’s no doubt that PS Vita TV has the potential to expand the install base of Sony’s struggling handheld, but with the audience split, it’s going to be interesting to see whether developers continue to take advantage of the portable’s more unique features when a potential pool of the market will simply not have access to them. While studios have struggled to incorporate interesting implementations of the Vita’s range of inputs, teams such as Ovosonico – the Italian indie working on the macabre touch-based Murasaki Baby – could be penalised for trying should the micro-console prove popular.

That worry aside, though, the appeal of the device does not simply centre on its ability to play portable games on a television. As the petite platform boasts the same innards as the Vita, the device is also capable of streaming PlayStation 4 games. Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida demonstrated this during the platform holder’s Tokyo Game Show keynote earlier in the week, showing Knack being played using PS Vita TV. The functionality works identically to Remote Play on the handheld, taking advantage of the PS4’s processing power to broadcast a signal which is then decoded by the slim set-top box.

Theoretically this will allow you to play the PS4 anywhere in your house, even when your main television is occupied. Of course, the Vita will allow you to do this, too, but at the expense of the clarity that comes along with a larger screen. You may want to stream the next generation console to your bedroom so that you can continue playing in bed, or perhaps broadcast to a conservatory or summer house so that you don’t have to compromise your gaming time when the sun’s shining outside.

And there are other advantages, too. With access to an array of onboard applications, you’ll be able to peruse Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the worldwide web on any connected screen. While the advent of smart televisions may render this functionality moot in time, it could prove a useful option for those with older displays that aren’t willing to shell out on an expensive upgrade just yet.

Of course, the big problem is that the device hasn’t yet been confirmed for a Western release. Earlier in the week, Shuhei Yoshida told fans to “stay tuned” for further news, while group gaffer Andrew House admitted that it would need to conduct further research before bringing the device overseas. “The landscape is different elsewhere,” he told Eurogamer.net. “We need to look at each of the markets and how we approach them."

There is a lot more competition in Europe and North America – such as the Roku box and the recently released Google Chromecast – and as a consequence, Sony would need to significantly strengthen the number of content providers compatible with its console to contend with those popular products. We suppose that it could be possible to stream the PS4’s collection of onboard applications via Remote Play, but that may not be an option for more mainstream consumers simply looking for an avenue to enjoy HBO GO.

It’s a testament to the versatility of PS Vita TV, though, that the absence of these crucial services may not impact the initial appeal of the gadget at all. If you’re a regular reader of this website, then there’s a good chance that the unit’s Vita compatibility and PS4 streaming will already be encouraging your internal antenna to stand on end. And that alone means that it may be worth Sony’s time to switch on the system’s signal overseas.


Would you purchase PS Vita TV if it launched outside of Japan? Which of the peripheral’s features are you most interested in? Broadcast your thoughts in the comments section and polls below.

Would you purchase PS Vita TV if it launched in Europe and North America? (62 votes)

Yes, I think it sounds like an interesting device

71%

Maybe, I’d need to know a little more information

19%

No, I don’t think that I’d have a use for the unit

10%

Please login to vote in this poll.

Which of the following features do you find most appealing about PS Vita TV? (57 votes)

I love the idea of playing Vita games on a big screen

56%

I’d get most use out of the PS4 streaming functionality

30%

I need a cheap and cheerful general media device

14%

Please login to vote in this poll.

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User Comments (35)

Ps4all

#1

Ps4all said:

I think PS vita TV will be good for the PS Vita. The sooner developers stop shoe-horning touch/motion controls into places they are not needed the better.

odd69

#2

odd69 said:

The PS Vita TV is the best thing since sliced bread, bring it to the states Sony.

Savino

#3

Savino said:

@odd69 Never more I will have to move my whole ps system to other TV because the kids are screaming and jumping in the living room!

The Wii U gamepad works great in this case, but this is a whole new level!

BornOfEvil

#4

BornOfEvil said:

First party devs are really the only ones who take advantage of the Vitas capabilities, so it's not too big a loss. The portable Vita wouldn't be affected too much due to it having the convenience of portability, which is something the Vita TV doesn't offer.

When the Vita TV makes its way Westward, Sony should make a commercial that shows the benefits of having not just a Vita, but a Vita TV. Otherwise, people will continue to believe that the Vita TV will hurt Vita sales - which is ridiculous because every Vita TV sold will count as a Vita. So how exactly is that hurting the Vita in any way?

Nymo

#6

Nymo said:

If done right, PSVita TV could help encourage sales of both Vita games & maybe Vita handhelds. What I mean by that last one is that, well, not everything will work on TV. If you want the "full" experience and play games you can't on PSVita TV, like Tearaway or Gravity Rush, along with playing your library on-the-go, it could tempt some people to buy the handheld.
But overall: PSVita TV could help get more games on the platform, if Sony plays their cards right (the major card being advertising).

The biggest reason for me to get the microconsole would be for the PS4 remote play streaming. Just the concept of moving from the living room to my bedroom TV without having to move consoles or own another PS4 sounds real good to me, if the tech actually works well.

The other big thing PSVita TV has in the future not mentioned here: Gaikai cloud streaming.
Once Sony gets that up & running in 2014, the PSVita TV is essentially a $99 PS3. (considering that you have a stable internet connection, Sony's servers aren't down for maintenance, and that you don't mind buying digital & not use physical disks)

I feel that the PSVita TV can be a very good trojan horse to bring people into the PlayStation ecosystem: PS1 games, PSP games, PSVita games, PS Mobile, PS4 streaming, and soon, Gaikai PS3 cloud streaming. All for just $99.
But once again: The major hurdle, if Sony decides to offer it elsewhere, is marketing.

belmont

#7

belmont said:

I am curious what Sony will do with game sharing between devices. I have a lot of digital Vita, PSP and PS1 games but I already have a Vita and a PSPgo. Will my games work on Vita TV? It is a third device and only two are allowed till now. Will my PSPgo will become useless? I still use it. Also what if I buy a second Vita?

Another thing I want to see is how the games will be upscaled and if I can play my collection of videos without recoding them.

LDXD

#8

LDXD said:

I'm buying this When it comes to the west along with a new slim vita

rjejr

#9

rjejr said:

From the earlier thread an hour before, edited to make some sense:

How many people would buy a Vita TV and think it streams from their Vita to their tv? A lot of unhappiness when they find out they can't use the front and rear touch controls or the camera.

Vita tv can't play these Vita games:
http://www.destructoid.com/impressions-ps-vita-s-free-ar-games-222526.phtml

and prbably not these games:
http://playstationstuff.co.uk/playstation-vita/ps-vita-games-that-use-the-rear-touchpad

Mostly throwaway games I know, but somebody must like them.

I still like the idea but think it's weird Vita tv can't stream Vita games to the tv.

hamispink

#10

hamispink said:

@rjejr The vita doesn't have the extra hardware to facilitate streaming like the PS4 has. Also, who would buy a $100 box just to stream their already $200 vita to a tv?

I think that the vita tv will lead to both increased publisher interest in the platform, and more games that don't shoe-horn touch controls into them. I envision titles being made with a normal controller in mind, and the inputs such as second triggers will be mapped to either the back touch or small icons on the front near the edge. That seems like the best of both worlds moving forward.

Ruefrak

#11

Ruefrak said:

I'm all in with the VitaTV. I want one day one.

The way I see it, this device has certain advantages that a Roku or AppleTV just don't have. First is that it's being sold almost as an accessory for the PS4. People will pick one up, either for themselves or for their kids, and once it's in the house, why would they bother with another streaming device? It's bought as a gaming console/accessory, but much like the PS3 it ends up being a media hub as well.

Also, this device would be sold in stores where Rokus are not. Video game stores will stock them as will the big box stores. A Playstation video game console for $99? Hell, I bet a lot of people would pay that just out of curiousity.

And as far as touch controls are concerned, I'm hoping they phase them out. I can't think of one instance where the touch screen makes a game better on any of the Vita games. I prefer not having to take my fingers off the controls to swipe or tap the screen.

charlesnarles

#12

charlesnarles said:

At the very, very least, I'd buy one just to play MHFU on a big tv with a DualShock3(4?!?!?). Help me, Yoshida... you're my only hope.

charlesnarles

#13

charlesnarles said:

Also: is metal gear acid ever going to be available on the store? Cause that's another amazing psp series I'd love on my 37"

EGMagnus

#14

EGMagnus said:

Yes I want one. The Vita library has grown extremely enticing but I really don't want to fork out the cash for the system itself and a memory card. This offers the best of both worlds. Bring it to the West Sony!

Cirno

#16

Cirno said:

This is actually a thing I can get behind.

I dunno why but seeing it in this form is far more enticing than the normal Vita ever was to me.

Faustek

#17

Faustek said:

To be honest I think this will sell OK.

They need to get psmobile out there, get the devs to launch there as well so the more casual market maybe thinking about a iOS topbox would go for this as well.

astroshamu

#18

astroshamu said:

I personally don't need this but I could see it being helpful to some people, I don't really want or need to play vita games on tv, but if you don't have a vita this is a good cheaper option, I could see this selling better than the actual vita if they market it well

Zombie_Barioth

#19

Zombie_Barioth said:

I'd say it has a lot of potential since it covers quite a few niches all on its own. It fills that budget-console gap under the PS3 and can get even cheaper down the road, works as Sony's own media box, and even a make-shift PS4. The list goes on and on.

I certainly hope this makes it outside Japan, seems kinda weird that it wouldn't. I love my handhelds but this thing is just too good to ignore.

mibtar

#21

mibtar said:

Vita TV really does have a lot of potential. Specially since it already has a lot of ps1 and psp games to go with the Vita games. It's too bad that the Vita can't play ps2 games cause that will really sell the systems well. I was wondering is it possible? Cause I thought the Vita had more juice than PS2. I wish sony could make that happen.

Gamer83

#22

Gamer83 said:

Should it reach North America, I might be more likely to buy this next year than an Xbox One or a Wii U. Being able to stream PS4 is a big thing for me.

Cloud7794

#23

Cloud7794 said:

The Vita TV has great possibilities. For one, it would be great for kids with two homes who don't want to lug their PS4 around when they switch. The same goes for different rooms of a house for those who want to keep their systems more-or-less in place (as others here have said). Not to mention the Vita TV itself plays some great games.
That leads to point two, the console itself may be cheap (a $99 Sony console?), but so are the games compared to the larger home consoles. A whole library of amazing games opens up that's great for people on a budget. Except for special editions, no game releases at higher than $39.99 here in the states. Then you have $5.99 and $9.99 PS1 classics, a squadron of PSP titles mostly $19.99 and under (Dissidia 012 Duodecim on TV!), and other assorted PSN/mobile titles. This is a perfect entry-level/budget system that I think would appeal to just about anyone.
Point three is obvious: streaming Netflix, music, youtube, other movies, internet, etc. All those other "extras" to us (well, me I guess really) would be a great selling point to the casual gamer. I also notice that sly usb port just hanging around there... though HIGHLY unlikely, if Sony allow you to use a USB as an external hard drive (though require formatting and activation or something?) that you can store games on, I think this is the instant victor in the as-of-yet announced set-top box war. More likely, they may allow you to hold your music/videos on a USB, or maybe even backup to a USB. Those would still be great features.

Epic

#25

Epic said:

I wish it would let you have more than one account on it but its still an amazing device.
Planning to import one from the USA when it comes out there.

JCE

#26

JCE said:

If it can stream PS4 games to another TV what's the possibility it could just stream a 2nd player screen to another TV. So no more spilt screen.

rjejr

#27

rjejr said:

@hamispink - "Also, who would buy a $100 box just to stream their already $200 vita to a tv?"

I'ld actually guess lots of people, at least in the US, we like spending money we don't have on things we don't need. Why do people buy anything that starts with an "i", or a Roku, or pay a monthly subscription bill for a Tivo?

Why would anybody pay $100 for a Vita tv that WON'T let them stream their $200 Vita to a tv? I think that's the real question.

drumsandperc92

#28

drumsandperc92 said:

Hmm color me a bit confused.
The purpose of remote play was at first explained as off TV play, similarly to Wii U, so others can watch the TV your PS4 is hooked up to. The other was the streaming so you can take your PS4 on the go essentially.
Both of those sound like actually pretty cool ideas...you get access to the entire vita library, on the go of course, plus the ps4, on the go.
But the Vita TV is a grand idea for just the opposite-vita owners who don't really take it to go or who want to play on the big screen while at home, essentially turning the vita into a home console.
that sounds fine, and in fact, would be more appealing to me, who hasnt owned a portable since the GBA simply bc i would only ever play at home and would rather not look at a small screen.
But what i've found is that the vita library consists of vita versions of many console games anyway...a vita assassins creed, a vita uncharted, etc. is all that really necessary or should i just stick with the ps4 then for a true home console experience? or ps3, even? because how do vita games look on the big screen? probably not as good as on the little screen, and definitely not as good as even ps3....
and if both the vita tv are hooked up and the ps4 are hooked up to the same tv (i have only one) the rly there would be no point whatsoever.
so im in a pickle...i was thinking of picking up a vita eventually for remote play, but now i could have the vita tv so i could play vita on the tv....if only Sony launched the new, less expensive Vita with an HDMI port, turning it into the Vita TV!!!!!

Malouff

#29

Malouff said:

@Epic I agree limiting accounts would be the biggest complaint.

I already two Vita's and we can only have two registered to our account.

I also wish that the PS Vita would have subaccounts the the PS3.
The ability to have more than one account on the device.
I hate having to format the expensive memory cards each time you switch accounts.

JaxonH

#30

JaxonH said:

D) None of the above

Not interested, sorry. It's a cool technology and all, but it's useless to me. I don't want to play my handheld games on TV, and I don't need to play my consoles on multiple TVs. I can totally see the draw for others maybe, but as for myself, I would never use it. Tell me more about the games, that's what I'm interested in. More Vita games. Borderlands 2, Final Fantasy X/X-2, Gravity Rush 2, etc...

JaredJ

#31

JaredJ said:

I always liked the idea of playing handheld games on tv. Super Gameboy and the Gameboy Player were both really cool. The Vita TV seems like the logical evolution.

Cirno

#32

Cirno said:

I just realised that it can't play touchscreen games.

Pumpkin.gif

Squiggle55

#33

Squiggle55 said:

If developers decide to stop forcing Vita's touch functionality because of Vita TV, then I count that as a MASSIVE win. Literally the only type of game that I want touchscreen functionality is a puzzle game like bejeweled or escape plan.

WaLzgiStaff

#34

WaLzgi said:

I might be interested in this myself. I don't want to spend $400 on a console I probably will never use (like my PS3). However $100 is much more appealing.

Just to clarify, can this thing play games I bought on my PS3? I have mostly old PS1 and indie games.

Sutorcen

#35

Sutorcen said:

The only thing that worries me is, that with this move Sony might have killed the rear touchpad of the Vita. A good move would be to realease a special Dualshock with rear touch panel as well or there will be fragmentation in the Playstation ecosystem.

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