Review: PlayStation TV

A handy microconsole device that will end rows over who gets to use the main TV

 

€100

At E3 last year, Sony unveiled the latest in the PlayStation line-up – the PlayStation TV microconsole. For just €100, the device lets you access PlayStation 4 games on another TV in the house, but also to play PlayStation Vita games, PlayStation Portable titles and PS One classics. It’s a microconsole first and foremost; as a handy extra, it will also stream TV shows and movies.

Out of the box, it doesn’t look like much. It’s about the same size as a portable hard drive, but it has ports on the rear of the device. That includes HDMI, ethernet, USB and a slot for a memory card or Vita game.

The good:

As a remote play device for the PS4, the PlayStation TV works well. This means an end to the rows over who gets to use the main TV, whether it’s for gaming or watching TV programmes. When there’s a conflict you can simply stream your PS4 to the PlayStation TV and carry on playing. You don’t have to physically move the console – although that would be a cheaper solution – and you can still take over the main TV for big releases and special occasions.

You can take advantage of Remote Play in one of two ways: connect directly to the PlayStation 4 wirelessly, or connect over your home network. If it’s the latter, the ideal situation is to have the PlayStation TV plugged into the ethernet, with the physical cable preferred over a wireless connection. But most people will be relying on wireless access.

The good news is that we had little, if any, issues streaming the PS4 games over wifi when we were playing locally; it was only when we put the broadband network under strain by trying to play online that things got a little stutter-y.

It supports the wireless Dual Shock controllers too, so you will be able to take your existing controllers and connect them in another room. When you need to vacate the main TV, all you have to do is pick up the controllers and move to the PS TV.

The not so good:

The PlayStation TV comes with only 1GB of memory, so you’ll need to expand it for the device to have any hope of building a library of Vita games. The only way to do that is with Sony’s memory cards, and they can come in a bit on the pricey side compared to standard memory cards.

That’s another area where you’ll hit a snag or two: not all Vita games are compatible with the PlayStation TV. You may find some of your favourite titles are out of the picture when it comes to the microconsole, and others may need a patch to play on the device. However, there’s a large library of games available, so it’s likely that you’ll find something to play.

As previously mentioned, playing online games can be a little problematic, with a bit of lag that made it frustrating. For PS4 users, not everything is suitable for the PS TV remote play function either; obviously games that rely on the camera or microphone will be out.

The rest:

The user interface is a little baffling. It is essentially the Vita interface without the ability to touch the screen. Because of that important omission, it can make navigating the system a bit odd at times. A tweaking of the user interface to make it less geared towards the Vita and more towards the PS TV would be welcome.

With the PlayStation Now service, you can also buy PlayStation 3 games and play them over the streaming service on the PS TV, but that’s not yet available in Ireland. It’s coming to Europe this year though, so we should be seeing it soon.

The streaming movie and TV services are limited to what is in Sony’s Playstation store (not good for Irish users); the addition of third party services such as Netflix has yet to happen, despite the availability of the service on other Playstation devices.

Verdict:

As a remote play device, the PS TV works well – provided you aren’t trying to play it on a larger screen. There is some potential though as an entertainment device that Sony has yet to capitalise on.

Three stars