When the Xbox One and Playstation 4 were first unveiled at E3 last year, gamers (whether or not we’re alright with that word any more) cried foul. Microsoft and Sony made pains to emphasize features like social media integration and TV streaming; gamers alleged that the electronics behemoths were kowtowing to the “casual” market instead of serving “hardcore” players. The PS TV, from its name and its Roku/Apple TV/Slingbox-like functionality, appears to be another concession to said casual market.
On behalf of said market: Thank you, Sony.
The PS TV properly pushes gaming into the present day in two ways (‘cause graphics ain’t everything). First: if your PS4 is hooked up to a TV that sees a lot of use — across family members, roommates, and so on — the PS TV, which fits in the palm of your hand, can be hooked up to a separate set to stream games, video, and more from the nearby console. Previously, this service was only available to Playstation Vita owners, who could stream PS4 games onto their handheld gaming devices. It’s not quite Netflix-level versatility, where streaming is available on smartphones, tablets, computers and streaming boxes — but it’s a step in the right direction for portable, versatile gaming, and it’s definitely all we can hope for in a fiercely territorial and convoluted market. Sony is unlikely to cooperate with its direct competitor, Microsoft, on a streaming model for PCs, and even then it would have streaming services like Steam to contend with; Microsoft itself would build such a model with its own Xbox One, but then that would muddle its heretofore separate products; and beyond the web of red tape that smartphone streaming would entail, buttonless smartphones can’t handle 90 percent of the PS4’s library. Apple, meanwhile, has more important things to worry about than games, like toys for your wrist.
Second: PS TV allows users to stream 700 games from the Playstation back catalog (PS1, 2, 3, and PSP via the upcoming Playstation Now feature) for small rental fees. The selection is expected to grow, which should be equally exciting to nostalgic longtime gamers and curious newcomers alike. For just a Benjamin, it’s a great weapon for diluting your Final Fantasy marathons with Frasier binges, or vice versa.
Dimensions: 2.6 x 4.1 x .5 inches
Ports: Vita card slot, Memory Card slot, HDMI out, Ethernet, USB
Connectivity: wi-fi, Ethernet