Before the Tokyo Games Show , Sony shared with us a little surprise that came from the pocket of Sony Computer Entertainment President Andrew House . This surprise is PS Vita TV , the previously announced new portable console, which is now designed for home use.
This console allows you to play games from PS Vita and PlayStation , stream video content, as well as buy music and movies through the Sony store. You can also connect several DualShock 3 controllers to this console, which allow you to enjoy games without compromise on the ergonomic side.
It becomes immediately clear that Vita TV is the answer to other cheap mini-consoles such as OUYA , GameStick or Huawei . In addition to modern games, you can also download older titles, the catalog of which is increasing every month. And although the Android and iOS platforms have already begun to settle in this area, without stability and a convenient Dualshock controller, they cannot compete with Sony.
However, if you have already reached for your wallet, then I hasten to disappoint you. Unfortunately, for now, PS Vita TV is only available in Japan. And even if you order it from the land of the rising sun, then even to turn it on, you will need a Japanese PSN account, which uses the currency of the Yen.
So what is this gadget? An innocent experiment or an important part of the PlayStation ecosystem? And is it worth the money when you can easily buy a regular Vita with all the same features? Let's find out.
Appearance and specifications
The size of a deck of Vita TV cards looks stylish and even cute. Sony worked hard on the design: the lines look very nice, and all the ports are located on the back of the device. The console itself comes in white, although this color is slightly darker than the shade of the DualShock controller , which comes with the value pack ($ 144).
The front, glossy panel bears the Sony logo and the only LED indicator of the device. From above you can see the PlayStation logo, which is already 19 years old. And in general, that’s all. The console is completely inconspicuous, and for this I like it. And although when all the necessary cables are inserted into it, it loses part of its attractiveness, nothing can be done about it.
Since this is not a next-generation console that uses several powerful video cards, PS Vita TV runs silently. Sony claims that the home processor has the same processor as the regular Vita, and I tend to believe them. The console works in the same manner as its portable counterpart, which suits me perfectly.
However, for its operation you will need a DualShock controller, and if you do not have a PS3 yet (the joystick from PS4 is also suitable), you will have to spend a little more money. These joysticks are charged via a USB port located at the back of the device (you can also charge them from a computer or even a TV).
Speaking of the rear panel, you will find on it: HDMI and Ethernet ports, 5V AC power input, USB port and a memory card slot. This hole means another purchase, this time, a memory card. Although they are still too expensive, you can now buy a bulk (64 GB) card and forget about it for the rest of your life.
On the side of the device, under the inscription PS Vita, there is a media slot for game cartridges. If you already have a portable Ps Vita, then you can insert your already purchased cards into the home version and play games from them using all the same saves.
On the front panel is a power button, which I almost never used. After all, it is much easier and more convenient to turn the console on and off using a wireless controller.
PS Vita TV uses the same interface as the portable version: games and applications are located in bubbles, and to go to the main menu, you use the PlayStation button. However, a touchscreen is not installed on Vita TV, so navigating through these menus goes against the original idea.
Fortunately, the simplicity of the interface allowed us to easily use all the main functions of Vita TV without any problems. And although typing on the touchscreen is somewhat easier, the large keyboard that appears on the TV, due to its size, is convenient and easy to use.
From the point of view of the game console, on PS Vita TV you can play PS Vita games (on cartridges or downloaded via PSN), as well as buy games from PSP and PSX through the online store. However, the lack of touchscreens (on the portable version has front and rear) imposes some restrictions on the number of games that you can play without any problems.
Tearaway , Metal Gear Solid HD Collection , Wipeout , Uncharted and Gravity Rush , all of these games use the touchpad to one extent or another and it is necessary for them to pass, so they won’t even start on Vita TV. In addition, in the home version there is no camera and compass, which again shortens the list of compatible games.
When a game needs a touchpad to work, it automatically downloads an update from the Internet, which allows you to create a touchscreen replacement by pressing R3 and L3. This substitution is a two-dimensional space along which you need to drive with sticks, imagining that it is your finger. If it sounds silly and uncomfortable, then that's right. This is a very superficial solution that does not correct the situation at all. It only bypasses some restrictions, because difficult movements with sticks cannot be repeated.
No matter what game you decide to play, Vita TV automatically scales it to 720p. Of course, games with Vita look best on an HD screen. The frame rate is higher, and although the pixels are blurry due to scaling, the games still look good. Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 looks especially good, which struck me.
But years did not spare the original games from the PlayStation. Although they are good in terms of game design and appearance, they are hopelessly outdated. However, it is worth noting that when playing through PS Vita (via PS3 too), these games look much better than if you connected your old PS one to your HDTV via RCA cables.
Despite the fact that this is a game console, there are not so many games developed specifically for Vita on it. It saves a lot of indie titles and PSX games a little, but the fact remains: there were too few good games on PS Vita, and given incomplete compatibility, the list of these games is getting even smaller. However, if you do not pay attention to incomplete compatibility and play what is, this is a completely good and complete gadget that can please beginners.
It is worth noting that Vita TV also supports a number of video services. At the moment, the Sony Video Unlimited store and the Japanese rental network Tsutaya are working, which offers the possibility of renting films, as well as their unlimited viewing by subscription. Hulu Netflix should join this list, however, at the time of writing, there is no news about this. Other services also exist, but their names are most likely unfamiliar to you.
Video is streamed at a resolution of 720p and no more. This means that in terms of picture quality, Vita TV is comparable to Roku and Apple TV. But despite this, the video talents of this gadget remain in the shadow of gaming, which cannot but upset. If this console had support for other popular streaming services, it could easily claim to be a video player for TVs without SmartTV support.
The last thing worth mentioning is the web browser. Since the applications were not optimized for operation on HDTV, the Internet browser works just awful. Due to a mismatch in resolution, the text swells, turning the page into a series of huge characters. Whatever the page: Wikipedia, Twitter or Facebook, the text becomes unreadable, and all I can do is scroll down the page.
Thanks to good technical performance and a bit of nostalgia, PS Vita TV has something to enjoy, especially if you grew up in the era of PlayStation.
However, Sony should find a better solution to the lack of a touchscreen. Perhaps the problem can be solved using the PS4 controller, on which a small touchpad is already installed, but so far there is no news about this. I also think that with the advent of PS Now, this console will be the cheapest way to stream games. It is worth considering when this system will launch, and how it will work.
And for now, PS Vita TV remains a cheap ($ 96) alternative to the portable version of this console. And although it is not as good as a multimedia player than its competitors, this console is very good for games.
Perhaps when Sony announces its plans for the development of Vita TV and PlayStation Now, this console will add functionality, but now it remains just an interesting toy, which in addition is available only in Japan.
Attention! This is a translation of the Engadget review .