First Impressions of the PlayStation TV

I recently found myself in possession of a PlayStation TV, Sony’s strange little device designed to play Vita games on a big TV. I got this because I’ve wanted something which I could play Vita games on for a while, without actually having to drop 200+ dollars on a Vita and all the stuff I’d need to keep it safe from scratches and cracks. So after testing it a little bit, I thought I’d share my thoughts on it!

For starters, the Vita menus and games look better on a big 1080p screen than they have any right to. Despite being a handheld system, the Vita is powerful enough to compete decently well with systems like the 360 and PS3, and the PlayStation TV can output at 720p and 1080i over HDMI. Many of the games do not run natively at 720p, however, so they system does some amount of upscaling. They still look perfectly fine, however, and look far nicer than 3DS games running on a 3DS XL.

The PlayStation TV does not have a controller of its own, but rather requires a dualshock 3 or a dualshock 4 to play games. The one I ordered came bundled with a dualshock 3 and a 6 gig memory card, but if you own a dualshock 3 or dualshock 4 then there’s no reason to get anything but the console itself. I found the dualshock 3 perfectly serviceable save for the triggers, but no Vita games require them so it wasn’t a problem.

What was a problem was the games available. Despite running the same hardware as the Vita (sans touch sensors, gyroscopes, and camera), the Playstation TV can only run a certain number of approved Vita games. While this makes sense for games like Gravity Rush, which relies on motion controls absent from the Playstation TV, other exceptions are less clear. Omitted games include the likes of Metal Gear Solid: HD Collection and Rayman Legends, made odder by the fact that the Playstation TV is able to emulate touch through the use of the control sticks.

Thankfully, Sony has approved a significant number of games as of late, including classics like Ys: Memories of Celceta and Persona 4 Golden. If those aren’t enough for you, there are 3rd party hacks capable of removing the whitelisting and opening it up to any and all compatible games. Doing so will ward the warranty and make it impossible to connect to PSN, however.

One of my big concerns with the PS Vita early on was that the UI wouldn’t look quite right (games scale up well, but the UI only seems to scale to a certain degree) but I haven’t had many issues with that. Textboxes in Ys Celceta look a bit big, but other than that I’ve had no troubles. The only issue I’ve had is that the menus are often made with a touchscreen in mind, forcing you to sometimes press a few too many buttons to get over to the desired icon on the screen. This hasn’t been a major issue so far, however, and the conversion from touchscreen to controller has been much smoother than I would have expected. Pity about the limited game selection.

So the verdict on the PlayStation TV? If you have a TV and can’t afford a Vita/don’t want one but want to play Vita games, this seems like a good compromise. So long as you keep the relative lack of games in mind, it’s a decent enough unit for the money and works better than other attempts at making a microconsole. The one thing to keep in mind is that Sony has stopped shipping new Playstation TVs, but continues to support it with firmware updates and patches. So if you want one, might be worth picking it up now while they’re cheap.

The Playstation TV is available at Amazon and Gamestop. The Dualshock 3 bundle can be bought from Amazon.

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