Over the years, there have been thousands of tech devices that were ahead of their time. Having a successful product requires perfectly timing its entry into a market.
Launching a product too early may result in consumer reluctance to purchase, while too late means competitors beat you to market. The PlayStation TV is a great example of a useful device that didn’t gain much popularity.
In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find people who were familiar with the device. Part of the problem was that Sony didn’t heavily advertise what the PlayStation TV could do.
This was a major problem for consumers since it was the first of its kind in the console gaming market. However, word eventually spread, and the device is now highly sought after.
PlayStation TV Overview
- Hundreds of PlayStation games to choose from: Including many PlayStation Vita games such as Killzone: Mercenary, God of War Collection, and Borderlands 2, classic games from PS One and PSP systems,...
- Remote Play: Stream most of your PS4 games from your PS4 system to your PlayStation TV over local Wi-Fi (robust Wi-Fi or wired connection recommended).
- Easy to Set up and Play: Plug in and play on any HDMI compatible TV in your home.
- PlayStationNow READY: Available later this year, PlayStation Now will give access to an expanding library of PS3 games to stream directly to PlayStation TV.
- Access to Entertainment: Games, movies, TV shows, and apps on PlayStation Store.
The best way to explain the PlayStation TV is to say it was a PlayStation Vita home console. If you’re unfamiliar, the PlayStation Vita was Sony’s successor to the PlayStation Portable console. However, it used cartridges rather than discs. It also featured several innovative capabilities, like streaming games from a PlayStation console.
However, the Vita, like the PlayStation TV, never saw major success, and it led to Sony’s departure from the handheld market. But one of the great things to come from the Vita is that Sony wanted to create a way to play games on a TV.
The PSP supported playing on a TV, but it was difficult. This is something that Sony’s rival Nintendo did for many years with the Game Boy Player and Super Game Boy.
What Could You Play?
The PlayStation TV was designed to play Vita games and was even referred to as Vita TV in some markets. It has a cartridge slot on the back so you can play games just like you would on the handheld Vita console. However, not all games are playable on the PlayStation TV, particularly those that required specific controls from the Vita.
In addition to physical Vita games, you could also access the PlayStation store. This is one area where the PlayStation TV really shined because you could play not only Vita games but games across several consoles. Best of all, many games were cross-compatible, so some titles purchased on the PlayStation 3 and 4 home console could also be downloaded and played.
What Was Groundbreaking?
At this point, you may be thinking that the PlayStation TV is just a home console version of the Vita. While you would be correct in your assumption, it also offered a lot of flexibility. In addition to playing cartridge and digital games, as previously mentioned, you could also stream games from both a PlayStation console and the PlayStation Now service.
Although there were other companies that came out with streaming devices, Sony was the first of the three major console manufacturers to support cross-play in this manner. The major benefit was that you could have multiple PlayStation TV boxes spread throughout different rooms in your house. Then, you could stream from a PlayStation console to this streaming box and play remotely.
Some PlayStation TVs did not come with a controller because you could use an existing DualShock 3 or 4 controller. This made for an even more enticing price.
However, Sony later sold bundles that included a DualShock 3 controller, and some bundles even included multiple games. The good news is that you could use the PlayStation 3 or 4’s controllers to play games on the PlayStation TV.
PlayStation TV Specs
The PlayStation TV runs on a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor. This is the same processor featured in the PlayStation Vita console. Similar architecture was also used in Apple’s A5 processor chips, which ran the iPad Mini and iPhone 4S. While it wasn’t a powerhouse, it was more powerful than Nintendo’s handheld at the time.
The box itself was a little larger than a credit card and featured metal housing. Inside was 512MB of RAM and 128 MB of VRAM. It also had 1 GB of internal memory, which stored basic system information.
However, you could easily expand the memory with a PlayStation Vita memory card. The PlayStation TV also supported Wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. The front of the PlayStation was flat with a Sony logo debossed on it. Across the back were four ports, a card slot, and a power button.
There was also a card slot on the side where you would insert a Vita game cartridge. The ports included: power, ethernet, USB, and HDMI. The launch price of the console by itself was $99, making it cheaper than a Vita. Plus, many bundles with accessories and games were offered.
Why Did the PlayStation TV Fail?
Oftentimes, tech devices fail because they are released at a high price. Normally, this occurs because companies invest a lot of time and money into development, or production costs are high. But that is not really the case for the PlayStation TV because it launched at a relatively low price of $99.
While that is still a decent amount of money, it’s a far cry from the price of other game consoles like the Vita itself. This leads us to a few other factors, such as internet limitations in the early 2010s along with too many companies producing streaming devices.
The PlayStation TV came out at a time when Netflix and Hulu were surging in popularity, and numerous companies were releasing streaming devices to play content on. Moreso, there were a few companies like Steam that also tried launching gaming streaming devices.
For average consumers, it became hard to distinguish devices like the PlayStation TV from the more popular brands like Roku. Of course, there was no comparison because the PlayStation TV was much more of a gaming console than it was a streaming device. But, that was never conveyed to consumers, not to mention the PlayStation Vita never sold well either.
This leads to another problem, which was that Sony chose not to market the PlayStation TV as the Vita TV the way they did overseas. Nonetheless, there is an even bigger problem that was a major roadblock for average users. Internet speeds in 2014 weren’t the greatest, and many people did not have home networks that could support streaming. Therefore, many who purchased the device had poor experiences.
PlayStation TV Legacy
It would be easy to believe the PlayStation TV faded into obscurity after poor sales and little recognition. But, that’s not the whole story. While Sony officially discontinued the device in 2015 in the US and Europe, it gained a lot of notice afterward. The main reason for the rise in popularity is mods that allow you to install other applications on the device.
One of the biggest limitations of the PlayStation TV is that it wasn’t compatible with all Vita games. Sony blocked support for a number of Vita games on the device. This was primarily done because of the difference in controls between the Vita and DualShock controllers. To fix this, modders created a Whitelist tool that removes Sony’s block and allows you to run any Vita games.
Should You Buy a PlayStation TV Today?
The PlayStation TV is easily the best way to experience many Vita games. This is certainly true if you prefer playing on a TV or want to capture the console’s gameplay for streaming purposes.
The big drawback here is that you can’t play all Vita games unless you go through the extra hassle of modding the device. The benefit of modding is that you can also run games from other consoles by adding emulators.
Another bit of good news is that the PlayStation Store still works on the Vita, so you can buy games from several generations. Not to mention, Vita games are pretty cheap compared to the actual handheld console.
The biggest drawback to purchasing a PlayStation TV is that they sell for a lot of money, in most cases costing over $100. If you just want to play Vita games, you may be better off just buying a PlayStation Vita.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Djordje Novakov/Shutterstock.com.