One thing that was missing from our Christmas games console buyer's guides was an in-depth look at PlayStation TV, the little microconsole from Sony that'll allow to play Vita titles on the big screen and dish out some PS4 remote play goodness as well. I'll be the first to admit that generally, when it comes to microconsoles, I've never been the most evangelical supporter of playing mobile games on a big screen. I can, however, see the appeal of multimedia plug-in boxes for consumers without smart TVs, or if you have multiple sets and just want a little media box for secondary televisions.
I was rather eager to investigate PS TV, however, what with already owning a PS4 and having a large Vita library. I have large hands, and I must admit to not finding the Vita's tiny thumbsticks to be all that comfortable. It's a problem that I've mitigated somewhat with third-party attachments that give the Vita gamepad-like handles, but even so, it's not an ideal solution. With that in mind, and considering that I no longer have my PS3 plugged in any more, I quite liked the thought of PS TV as a remote play unit for my PS4, and a little home console equivalent for playing classic PlayStation titles and broader Vita titles more suited to longer periods of play.
The trouble is, given early impressions, I can't work out who PlayStation TV is actually for.
It certainly doesn't seem to be for people like me, eager to use the little box, which is barely larger than a deck of cards, for PS4 Remote Play purposes. After much swearing and getting tangled up in cables, it's become readily apparent that the only way to eliminate the all-too visible lag is to have a house set up with full LAN coverage. This is just fundamentally impractical at best, and downright impossible at worst. Having the PS4 plugged in helped a bit, but even so, the latency was still immersion-breaking. I really hadn't expected that to be an issue -- standard remote play on my Vita, for example, works like a dream.
PlayStation TV isn't for people wanting a a multimedia streaming microconsole either... because it doesn't have Netflix. Or iPlayer. Or NowTV. In fact, it doesn't support any of these things, not even via Remote Play. You can rent things from the Sony Entertainment Network, of course, but just because Sony haven't worked out how to rival the likes of Sky and Amazon when it comes to convenient, subscription-based, TV/movie services shouldn't mean that I can't access the apps I already pay for.
It's not for people hoping for a PlayStation hub either. Although you have access to the Vita's large library, and the enormous potential of Sony's game marketplace, providing swathes of classic PSOne and PS2 titles, PS TV still refuses to use anything other than Sony's proprietary memory cards. Oh, and it only ships with 1 GB of storage onboard. You get three free games with PS TV -- OlliOlli, Velocity 2X, and Worms: Revolution (all of which have, I think, been part of the PS+ Instant Game Collection) -- but you can't even fit them all onto the system straight out of the box. Which brings me onto...
It's a dreadful microconsole for newcomers, too. So we've established that the PS TV, in spite of its marketing (not that there's been much of it), is ill-suited to PlayStation fans, but that all means that it seems doubly dreadful for newcomers too. The storage issue will be a horrible awakening for anyone who didn't have a Vita in the first place, but even more galling than that is the fact that it doesn't come bundled with a controller. PS TV supports both DualShock 4 and the previous model, but the DS3 does have a little bit of lag as far as we can tell, and neither come as a pack-in. Either way, you're looking at an extra £20-30 for a microconsole that you can't watch BoJack Horseman on, nor use to store the free games that you get out of the box.
Adding on some additional storage and a controller, you're looking at over £100 to get up and running on PS TV, which is absurd. You can get a second-hand PS3 for less than that.
Now, it's worth pointing out that I've only had PS TV for a short while. I want to live with it for a few days, see how it fits into my entertainment setup before dispensing a full review, but even at this early stage, PS TV presents very few answers to a whole host of questions, perhaps most pertinently who the hell is going to buy this?