PlayStation TV

By Derek Pettinelli

Published on Monday, November 17, 2014

Known as the PlayStation Vita TV in Japan when it launched, this new microconsole has been rebranded to the PlayStation TV for its launch in the U.S. The PS TV has a small form factor, about the size of a deck of cards at 6cm x 10cm and can fit into the palm of your hand, and it’s basically a PS Vita, made for the TV. There are a few ports on the rear of the system; power, USB, HDMI, Ethernet (recommended), and a port for a Vita memory card. The side of the system also has a port for PS Vita game cards. The system supports 720p/1080i for video, but does not support 1080p. However at 720p, the Vita’s UI looks good on the big screen and works well enough using a controller. Thankfully the PS TV supports both DualShock 3 and 4, allowing you to mix and match them up to 4 players simultaneously with the new system update.

The PS TV, like the PS Vita Slim has 1GB of internal memory, which is enough for a couple small indie games and save files, but when you put in a Vita memory card, the internal memory is disabled. When most smartphones and even the Xbox 360 can support multiple save devices, the Vita Slim and PS TV not being able to is disappointing, especially when considering the high price of the proprietary Vita memory cards which makes space all the more precious. I have a 64GB memory card for my Vita, so after powering off both my Vita and the PS TV, I put my memory card into the PS TV and was able to play everything from there after about a couple minutes of “rebuilding the database”. While you have to power off your system to take out the memory card, the swap is pretty painless.

Like a PS Vita system, the PS TV can also play PSone and PSP games, however, unlike the Vita, the library of games playable is much smaller. This is the biggest problem with the PS TV, it just doesn’t support enough games and apps. Most of the Vita’s library does not work at all on the system. While some games have received updates to support the PS TV, the majority of the Vita’s exclusive lineup is not supported by the PS TV. Big-name Vita games like Uncharted, Gravity Rush, WipEout 2048, Call of Duty, Resistance, Unit 13, Hot Shots Golf, Virtua Tennis, LittleBigPlanet, Tearaway, and many more simply do not work with the system. There is a compatibility list on Sony’s website, but it has many inaccuracies, not listing games that work and even listing games that do not work. I have many Vita games downloaded and 7 physical cards, none of which work on the PS TV.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker on PSP is not on the list and while the list doesn’t have Metal Gear Solid for PSone, that game works if you download it via a PS3, it’s all unnecessarily convoluted. The lack of big titles is the biggest fault of the system, especially considering many of these games work on the Vita itself. One of my favorite PSP games, MotorStorm: Arctic Edge was listed as compatible, but when I bought it, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t get it to work on the PS TV. I transferred Crazy Taxi: Fare Wars for PSP from my PS3 and it worked on my Vita, but not on the PS TV.

Infamously absent from the Vita in the U.S., probably due to licensing issues are the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon PSone classic games. There was a brief period in April when all games were able to be downloaded, so if you were lucky enough to get them during that time frame, you can play them on your Vita and PS TV. It’s sad that if you took advantage of a “glitch”, that’s the only way to play a large amount of classic games. Even more confusing is the lack of even Sony-made games, the first Syphon Filter on PSP, Dark Mirror works only on European Vita systems, while the sequel, Logan’s Shadow, only works on U.S. Vita systems. Why Sony has so many holes in their lineup, even with games they’ve made is puzzling, confusing, and disappointing.

As far as games that work, the aforementioned Metal Gear Solid on PSone works but only if you have a PS3 to transfer it from. Call of Duty: Roads to Victory on PSP (which was free with Call of Duty Vita) does work even though it’s not on the list, even though CoD on Vita doesn’t work. CoD: Roads to Victory isn’t available for purchase so the only way to get it is if you got it free from buying CoD on Vita. Some classic big-name franchises work like Resident Evil, Syphon Filter, and Final Fantasy on PSone and GTA, Ratchet, SOCOM, Patapon, and LocoRoco on PSP. Worse though, is that while the PS Vita offered bilinear filtering for PSP games to improve graphics, the PS TV does not offer this, making already dated games look even worse.

The big-name Vita games that work on the PS TV are few and far between, but some notable examples are Muramasa Rebirth, Persona 4 Golden, Killzone: Mercenary Minecraft, and the recently released Freedom Wars. These games look fantastic on the big screen and with a recent title update, Killzone became compatible, making the best looking and playing Vita game, even better on the big screen with a DualShock controller. Lots of indie games work, so PS+ subscribers will be happy, but many of the other games that work are remastered collections such as God of War and Sly Cooper, but these are games that I have on PS3, where they play and look better, than an upscaled Vita version.

Local multiplayer works via ad-hoc, so I was able to load my PSN account onto the PS TV and play PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD between the PS Vita and PS TV. This is a great feature and allowed me to play co-op seamlessly. However, many recent Vita games do not support ad-hoc, though most PSP games do.

With so much confusing with games working or not working, apps are a much simpler story, although it’s unfortunate as none of them work. Netflix or Hulu which work on Vita do not work on PS TV. The YouTube app also doesn’t work on the PS TV, even though YouTube videos can be played vita the PS TV’s web browser, it’s just frustrating. To have the PS TV launch without even Netflix working (when it works on Vita) is a huge letdown.

The PS TV also supports streaming from PlayStation Now which allows for rental streaming of PS3 games via the internet. Other PlayStation systems, even Vita also support this feature, but the usage of the official DualShock 3 and 4 controllers gives it a leg up over the handheld Vita system. I don’t have that great of an internet connection and I prefer to own games instead of rent them, so personally PlayStation Now isn’t for me, but with a library of over 150 PS3 games able to be streamed to multiple devices, it’s a nice service with an ever-increasing library of titles.

The PS TV can also stream from your PS4 system via Remote Play, like the handheld Vita system. The PS TV’s advantage here is also in the form of the controller and flexibility, allowing the PS TV to stream your PS4 to be used on another TV, even when the TV the PS4 is hooked up to is being used. Remote Play worked pretty well on the Vita, and the PS TV with an Ethernet port allows for a more consistent connection. Remote Play is better than Vita, but generally if you’re at home, you’re going to want to play PS4 games on your PS4 instead of streaming a lower quality version to another TV. So if you’re playing PS4 on the main TV and someone wants to take over that TV, you can continue your PS4 games on another TV using the PlayStation TV. I see limited appeal in this, but the option to do it is a nice one. If you have a stable enough connection, you don’t even need to be in the same building.

The PlayStation TV is a great idea and would be an excellent product if not for the incompatibility that is not due to any technical issues, but probably due to licensing issues. If Sony were to work around these issues and allowed all games to work on the PS TV, you would have an amazing system with a plethora of classic and current games to play on it. Instead, we’re left with a system that seems like it launched too early and with little fanfare. If you had access to more games instead of roughly 80% of the Vita’s library being locked out, I would recommend this system in a heartbeat. If you were one of the lucky ones to download all the games you wanted in April when there was the “glitch” then I’d recommend the system to you, but for most people including myself, having so few games available is a deal breaker. When so few games work and with an official list full of inaccuracies and incomplete information, the system feels half-baked and doesn’t fulfill the goals that even the handheld Vita system did. Updates could make this system much better, but until then, I can’t recommend the PS TV.

The Good

+ Small form factor

+ Plays PSone, PSP, PS Vita, PS3 (via PS Now), and PS4 (via Remote Play) games

+ Supports up to four DualShock 3 and/or DualShock 4 controllers


The Bad

- Large majority of games do not work

- None of the Vita’s apps work like Netflix and YouTube

- Compatibility list is inaccurate

PlayStation TV
Verdict6

1 Comment »

Comments

  • nope says:

    Why do you think bilinear filtering improves the look of good games? I’d suggest it blurs away detail and they lose sharpness and their original intended look.

    Also why do you think BL is not enabled on PSTV? I’d suggest it is.

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