The PlayStation TV is a sleek, micro-console around the size of a phone. In that package it packs an ethernet, HDMI USB and an SD card slot. The PlayStation TV is designed to expand the media capabilities of the PS4, despite Sony current leading the current generation console wars by pitching itself to hardcore gamers. This attempt to appeal to a more diverse users base is a step away from the script that other than Christmas seen them lead sales over the Xbox One in almost ever single month since launch.
This review was co-written by David Vuiyale, Michael Ward and Jason Cartwright. Above Image credit: SIFIE on YouTube.
The PlayStation TV supports PS4 Remote Play allowing you and a friend to play in over 1000 software titles from select PS Vita, PSP and PS One classics. Just be aware, and this is really important, understand the quality of these titles on a large screen TV will not be great as not all content will be supported in HD. Also some PS Vita, PSP (PlayStation Portable) and PS one format software is not compatible with this system. Some PS Vita cards are also not compatible. Remote play allows you to continue gaming on a separate display, even if the main TV is being used by others and also access movies and TV shows via the PlayStation Store.
To use the PlayStation TV, you’ll need a hard wire connection, while the PSTV does allow Wi-Fi connections, they’re incredibly unstable and unreliable. We tried this unit in both a single story house with the main bedroom only 6 meters away and a double-story structure with the PS4 and PS3 system being located down stairs. The WiFi connection would drop out continually. This means you’ll likely need to resort to the hard wired connection over ethernet and this significantly reduces its potential use cases and locations around your home.
With a hard wired cable (Cat6 Ethernet), the streaming worked great, but did require the PSTV to be located near the router. Sure if you own your home, then you can run cable through the walls if you didn’t during the build phase, but there’s an awful lot of people renting that this is off the table for.
The PlayStation TV is a BYOC situation, that is you need to bring your own controllers, a wireless DualShock 3 or DualShock4 controllers. This isn’t a massive issue given that non-PS4 owners are unlikely to buy the device, but it is important if others are using the PS4 in the lounge, while your kids try and play PSOne games in the games room. The PSTV in that example turns into a far more expensive proposition if you add the cost of 2x controllers.
One important limitation of the PSTV is that you can only use the main PS4 or PS3 user account. This is disappointing if your kids have their own separate user accounts, but with access to the Store, it’s somewhat a protection to age-related content. An understanding that a household will likely contain adult gamers and children who don’t care about lower quality or older title games, is seriously need in future updates. If you find yourself with a single controller, you’ll end up in a world of pain during setup. Running back and forth between rooms and TVs to connect the system gets old fast. If you’re thinking this is bearable during a one time setup, then understand it’s required every time you want to remote play.
Michael has 8 games on his Vita but only 3 of them have the remote play function and therefore limits what is able to be used on the PSTV. After switching to a physical connection to the modem/router, it wasn’t uncommon to experience freezes during gameplay. In a turn-by-turn game, this is not a deal-breaker, but in a fast action game it is. Although PSTV has the ability to play and download a few fun downloadable content such as Worms Party, without a reliable remote play the device fails to deliver on expectations.
Below is the announcement video from back in 2014, this references a bundle pack that includes a trailer, memory card and game that is not available in Australia.
Price and availability
The Sony PlayStation TV is available now for an RRP of A$149.00 from EB Games or JB Hi-Fi, but look around and at the right time, you may find it for just under A$100.00.
The marketing for PSTV suggests a quick and easy to setup for remote play, but our experience is far from the that. After taking into consideration the streaming issues and freezes, the value for money equation doesn’t stack up well for the PSTV. Unless Sony make changes to the setup to dramatically simplify it, and improve it’s Wi-Fi capabilities, we can’t recommend the PSTV.
It is also slightly annoying that a product that can’t show over the air TV, has TV in it’s title. While the tag line of the PSTV is start playing in one room and finish in another, something most semi-mobile gamers could get behind, unfortunately, the reality is a decent way from that. The PSTV is many things, but a second PS4 for $150 it is not.
More information at https://www.playstation.com/en-au/explore/playstation-tv/