PS TV review: a lot of promise, but needs polish

Compact and simple to use, but a dearth of streaming media apps and spiralling costs for memory cards and controllers holds the PS TV back

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The Independent Tech

When the PlayStation TV was first announced it was a ludicrously exciting concept. A micro-console that offers video-on-demand, lets you fling your PS4 to any screen in the house and plays classic PS1? Yes. Please.

That was a year ago though, and now that the magical little box has finally arrived in Europe it seems that sadly Sony’s reach exceeded their grasp. In a nut-shell the PS TV is far from the product we wanted, but Sony has the power to improve it.

The object itself is neat and attractive; a matte black and extremely lightweight box about the size of a pack of playing cards with Ethernet, HDMI and USB ports on the back as well as a slot for Vita games and Sony’s memory cards (more on which later).

Boot it up and you arrive at a transplanted Vita user interface complete circular icons swinging about like baubles on a Christmas tree and breezy background music. There’s links to the PlayStation store, a browser, all of Sony’s social stuff, a PS4 link, media and games. It’s certainly not as sharp as the interface on an actual console but it does the job without any fuss.

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The PS TV and Dualshock controller (only included in bundles).

When it comes to gaming on the PS TV you’ve got several options: streaming PS4 content via Remote Play to a second TV; loading up PS Vita games using physical memory cards and downloading digital titles – including indies and old PS1 games.

Remote Play is a mixed bag. Setting it and switching over from console to micro-console is straightforward but unless you’ve got incredible Wi-Fi (or you’ve got wired connections at both ends) your frame rate is going to drag and picture quality is going to take a dive. It’s still perfectly playable but by no means is it a duplication of the PS4.

Slotting in old Vita games is a far better experience, with some games like OlliOlli (one of the 3 downloadable titles that come bundled with the TV) improving massively with the extra screen real estate.

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The PS Vita interface takes a bit of getting used to but works just fine.

Similarly, downloading old games works just fine and although the compatible back catalogue isn’t entirely complete (you can check the full list here) there’s plenty of nostalgic A-grade material including Metal Gear SOlid, Tekken, Street Fighter, Castlevania, and a good number of Final Fantasies (eg VII, VIII and Tactics).

But while Sony may be offering some great titles it’s not a perfect wonderland. For a start a whole bunch of PS Vita games simply don’t work, while installing digital titles is going to fill up the built-in memory in about, well, one game. We didn’t even have space for the three free titles, and once you consider that a 16GB PS Vita memory card costs just under £40 you might start to feel like you’re being royally ripped off.

This displeasure follows you from the Vita’s gaming selection to its media. Although Sony has a good selection of blockbusters to buy and rent from the Sony Entertainment Network, there’s basically no support for streaming apps including iPlayer, Netflix, Amazon On Demand, and Now TV – not even through Remote Play.

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Some of the titles available on PS TV.

Sony are stressing that at the moment the main reason to buy the PS TV is for Remote Play, but it seems a bit disingenuous – especially with, you know, ‘TV’ being in the name.

Unfortunately this means that you’re paying £85 for the luxury of getting your PS4 streamed to elsewhere in your house. Factor in paying for a controller and memory card if you want to use PS TV as a standalone gaming device and Sony really looks like they’ve priced themselves out of mainstream popularity.

The PS TV isn’t bad by any standards, but it’ll never live up to the hype of its announcement without some major changes.

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