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PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

Author:
Matt Gardner
Category:
Reviews
Tags:
Games consoles, Hardware, Microconsole, PlayStation TV, PS Vita, PS Vita games, PS Vita TV, PS4, Remote Play, Sony Computer Entertainment

PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

I was baffled by PlayStation TV to begin with.

It seemed to be too laggy for a PS4 streaming box, too short on features for anyone looking for a TV-oriented microconsole, with too little out of the box for newcomers. Moreover, here in the UK it still costs upwards of £80, for which you just get the console, three games -- OlliOlli, Velocity 2X, and Worms: Revolution (all of which have, I think, been part of the PS+ Instant Game Collection) -- but, as I said in my first impressions piece on PS TV,  you can't even fit them all onto the system straight out of the box thanks to the paltry 1GB of onboard storage.

The US, at least has itself a dedicated discount bundle that packs in a DS3 and a memory card. But we're not in the States.

The unit itself is stylish yet unassuming, it's tiny and beautiful, but hardly ostentatious. Measuring just 66 x 104 x 127mm, it really puts the *micro* into microconsole. Setup is nice and easy,the inputs -- the HDMI in, ethernet port, power switch and expandable proprietary memory slot are all found to the rear. There are other things you'll need to do for the optimum experience, mind. Cabling up your house completely is just not going to happen for most people, but if you're planning on using the PS TV for streaming, you'll need to make sure at the very least that your PS4 has a wired connection to your router. Extenders help -- if you can wire your PS TV up to an extender, that'll help, but what you don't want is a fully wireless setup.

PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

To be fair, I've not had a terrible time of it beyond that first week. A bit of local FIFA 15 action went down a treat. There were a few instances of lag, but nothing major. It's important to note that the more controllers you have connected to the PS TV unit (you can have up to four), the worse the performance becomes, but for solo play, PS TV has held up surprisingly when well streaming from the PS4. Online competitive multiplayer, however, is going to be variable. Two hours with Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare worked almost seamlessly, but a later test with Far Cry 4 was unplayable, and FIFA 15 online made me feel like I was drunk. Or the players were. Or both. I haven't used it for that since. It should also be noted that the games don't look as good as they would on your PS4, what with the resolution down to 720p.

I'm enjoying the PS4 Remote Play, but that's not worth dropping £80. Really, PlayStation TV is a niche microconsole for niche gamers who bought a niche handheld.

Which is why, I'm happy to report, I'm sort of loving it right now.

It's important not to read that as a ringing endorsement, of course. I have a PS4 and a PS Vita, I regularly play PS Classics and older PSN titles, and I much prefer the DualShock 4 to the tiny, fiddly analogue sticks on the Vita. I already own a Smart TV, and therefore have little need for entertainment apps (which is just as well because PS TV doesn't even have Netflix at this point in time, probably because PlayStation Vue is coming at some point). In short, I'm geared precisely towards the PS TV's major selling point -- being able to play Vita games on your TV -- and am fully equipped to deal with its shortcomings.

PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

See , I have my PS4 in my office, hooked up to a capture box and wired into my PC for work stuff and YouTube recordings. But now I have the PS TV in my lounge, acting as a PS4 remote play extender and a way for my girlfriend to play on it if I'm busy at work in the office. I already have two memory cards, riddled with Vita titles, so I was able to get up and running quickly, and have been enjoying playing P4G over and over. It's worth pointing out, that I'm already playing Final Fantasy VII with a DualShock 4. And loving it.

Even when I was writing that comment piece a few weeks back asking who the hell the PS TV was for, I suspected it might actually be me, which was why I stressed that I'd need to spend time with it, live with it, see how it might fit into my gaming life.

Newsflash to Past Matt: It's fits pretty damn well.

Thing is, though, it's only enjoyable because I can afford to make excuses for Sony's braindead errors in judgement and downright laziness in terms of software design and compatibility. Although perfectly set up for gamers who, like me, already have a PS4, a Vita, games, and memory cards, it's a far from ideal console for newcomers that utterly fails to justify its lofty price tag. The lack of a pack-in controller, even a DualShock 3 which does experience a little bit of fluctuating latency when compared to the DS4's relationship to PS TV, is utter madness. That the onboard memory isn't even sufficient to store the three games (download codes) you get in the box -- all of which are cracking titles, by the way -- is ridiculous. Given that Sony had the foresight to create Mega Packs, bundling great games onto a proprietary memory card and selling them that way, one wonders why the hell they couldn't have done the same here, issuing five of the best titles compatible with PS TV on an 8GB card. That would have been great.

PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

Ah yes, compatibility. It's important to mention that although the list of Vita titles compatible with PS TV is extensive, it's missing some key titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush, Murasaki Baby, MGS HD, Mortal Kombat, Guacamelee, and more. Omissions like LBPV and Tearaway are perhaps more understandable because of the heavy emphasis on touchscreen features, not to mention the fact that the console version of the latter is on its way and LBP 3 just released, but it's still inexcusable that some of the Vita's biggest titles are absent from PS TV. The obvious problem was going to be adapting certain titles to fir traditional controller setups, and Sony haven't really dealt with that issue, they've just ignored it. Considering that the Vita isn't exactly bursting with games to begin with, that's not exactly brilliant.

Worse still, the interface is identical. It doesn't make sense to have an interface specifically designed for touch inputs to remain on PS TV, it's just absolute laziness on Sony's part.

PS TV feels like a product that was rushed out of the gates. None of Sony's own media services are ready, making it a useless entertainment microconsole. The laziness in terms of the interface, the game porting, and the failure to properly bundle this thing (over here, anyway) are problems that could all have been fixed (and probably will be) given time, but paying top dollar for a console that's essentially in early access is simply not acceptable. That's what PS TV is - a half-baked product that's incredibly promising, and a nice gizmo if you can afford to make excuses for Sony's oversights. Sony are banking on their hardcore fanbase to do just that, which is ickily exploitative.

PlayStation TV Review | Lazy, Half-Baked, Overpriced, and Brilliant

Don't be fooled - that controller isn't included

That's why, even though PS TV has fitted into my life quite nicely, I can't give it a ringing endorsement right now. If it sounds like I'm saying that with a little hesitation that's because the issues are so mind-bogglingly obvious and plain to see. Sony could fix this easily by New Year, but given their treatment of the Vita itself, that seems unlikely.

PlayStation TV could still be a cracking little microconsole, but even though I'm enjoying it right now, and you might too if you've got a PS4 and/or a Vita already, it's difficult to recommend because Sony haven't finished the job on it yet. Only half of what it's built to do actually works, only half of the features are present. It lives up (sort of) to the PlayStation part of its name, but even then the missing big hitting Vita titles are a big deal. The TV part is just a bit of a joke right now.

Greatness awaits, and all that.

Pros

  • Remote play seems to have settled down -- works well for solo and local play
  • If you want to play Vita titles with a DS4, this'll be right up your street
  • The three games included are pretty damn good -- seriously, Velocity 2X is amazing
  • Simple to set up and use

Cons

  • Retain touch-based Vita interface
  • Limited compatibility -- several top-tier Vita titles missing
  • Dreadful onboard storage and expensive proprietary memory cards
  • Entertainment apps are sorely lacking

The Short Version: A nice little PS4 Remote Play machine or big-screen Vita box if you've got £80-85 to spare, PlayStation TV will slot well into the second television sets of hardcore PS fans, but really this is a fairly empty machine with half-baked services and an incomplete game roster to support it. If you can forgive Sony's errors you might learn to love it, but they really should have called this PlayStation Early Access.

Add a comment 1 comment
kristianity77  Dec. 16, 2014 at 22:54

I'd be absolutely amazed if this sells well. Like mentioned, its missing key Vita titles for a start. And also, it has to be mentioned, the mere cost of a Vita itself it literally a few pounds more than the cost of this thing and is infinitely better than the Playstation TV in everything that it does.

The only plus point I can see to this is that it allows you to play "the majority" of Vita games on a big screen. Thats a hell of a lot of outlay for TV out.

Seriously, I cant see how this is better than the Vita in any way shape or form. If you want a Vita, and want remote play, and want to play PS1 and PSP games, get the Vita.

This Playstation TV thing is a joke.

Last edited by kristianity77, Dec. 16, 2014 at 22:55

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