TVs

Sony PlayStation TV is a great low-cost way to extend your play

Sony released the PlayStation TV earlier this week, and we bought one to try it out. This small box, similar in size to a streaming-media player, is a micro-gaming console that fits right into Sony’s PlayStation gaming ecosystem: It connects to a TV (other than the one your PlayStation 4 is using) and allows you to play games and stream entertainment. It’s fine at the first task, but lacking in the latter one.

What can you do with it?

The PlayStation TV is basically a PlayStation Vita that’s been optimized to use with a TV screen. You can play PS Vita game cards on the PS TV, though not all of them are compatible. You can also take advantage of the device’s Remote Play capability and stream content from your PS4 wirelessly to another location in the house.

And you get the PlayStation Now game-streaming service, which lets you play a variety of PS3 games (and earlier ones too). The PlayStation Network has other games, movies, and music for rent and purchase. If you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, you’ll be able to choose from a few free downloadable games on the PlayStation Network every month, too.

So what did we think? Here's a breakdown:

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Pros

  • The small device takes up next to no space in your entertainment center.
  • Low cost.
  • You have access to a large gaming library between Vita titles, PlayStation Now streaming service, PSN games and PS4 Remote Play.
  • You can access PlayStation 4 from a different TV with Remote Play.
  • You’ll be able to store photos, videos, and music on a memory card or through DLNA.
  • You can play PSP games and PSOne Classics.

Cons

  • There’s a lack of streaming-media options—no Netflix, Hulu Plus, or Amazon Prime. (Although you can download the Vita version of these apps, they will not work. They are also excluded from the Remote Play feature on PS4.)
  • Not all Vita games are compatible with the PlayStation TV.
  • Vita games can be difficult to control, since many of them require the Vita’s touch screen and touch pad.
  • Games designed for the Vita’s small screen suffer visually when they’re blown up on a TV screen.
  • The PlayStation TV requires a proprietary PS Vita memory card.

Bottom line

If you’re looking for an inexpensive gaming option, and you’re a fan of the PlayStation library of games, the PlayStation TV is definitely something to consider. And anyone who owns a PS4 should consider the PS TV if they don’t always have access to the TV the PS4 is connected to. (When my daughter is watching “Doc McStuffins,” I won’t get near my PS4 for a while, so this is a good way to get my fix.)

But if you’re looking for a cheap way to play games and access your favorite video services, you’ll be disappointed with PlayStation TV as a standalone device. It needs to be beefed up with more apps.  

The PlayStation TV costs $100 for the console alone, or $140 for a bundle with a DualShock 3 controller and The Lego Movie Video game. You’ll need a DualShock 3 or 4 controller to use the console, so if you don’t have one lying around, the bundle is a good value.

—Matt Ferretti

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