PlayStation TV Review

It fills a microscopic niche of very specific gamers, do you fall into it?

Last week I posted my initial impressions after spending a solid 24 hours fiddling around with the PlayStation TV and its various settings. My initial impressions were pretty positive. However, as I soon learned, my impressions were vastly different from others. Whether it was the fact that the PSTV only outputs at 720p, or that it doesn't have any streaming apps like Netflix or Hulu available, or perhaps because the streaming feature requires both consoles to be hardwired for optimal performance, there was a laundry list of expectations that weren't met.

Even after nearly a week of using it, I'm still very satisfied by what it can do. I can play games like Senran Kagura Shinovi Versus, Gods Eater Burst, and even Dissidia 012 Duodecim perfectly on my HDTV, and the picture doesn't even look that horrible on PSP games. That's why the PSTV is actually super difficult to review for me. It fills a very specific role for me personally. A niche that I think is going to be super small, if not smaller than the PSP Go's, and that's rough.

My initial impressions actually go over things like the build, inputs and generally how the system works. Make sure to check that article out if you're looking for those details. Here I'm going to focus less on the products shortcomings, which I realize there are a bunch, but focus more on whether the right product for you.

To start off, here are two columns that break down whether the PSTV is right for you or not.

It's not for you if:

  • You need entertainment apps (Netflix, Hulu)
  • You want it to stream your PS4 to another TV*
  • You expect the full library of Vita games to be compatible right away
  • You travel a lot
  • You care about the output only being at 720 upscaled
  • You still own a PS3, and can play your PSOne classics there
  • You don't own a Vita

It is for you if:

  • You don't care about entertainment apps because your other 10 devices already have them
  • You want it to stream your PS4 to another TV*
  • You want to experience Vita/PSP games on your HDTV (and you're patient enough to wait for Sony to update the library)
  • You want to play those games using superior controls (DualShock 4)
  • You don't travel and play your Vita mostly at home anyways
  • You no longer own a PS3, and you want to play your PSOne classics on a TV, rather than the Vita
  • You already own a Vita, a memory card and have a huge digital library

Not having entertainment apps can be a bummer for most, especially since the Vita supports both of those apps. It's super strange for them not to be supported. However, for me, my main source of entertainment is through my Chromecast. Even when I'm on my PS4 or Xbox One, I always switch over to the Chromecast despite having entertainment apps readily available on both of those consoles.

Easily one of the biggest selling points, at least to my knowledge, is the ability for the PSTV to stream your PS4 in a different room entirely. It shouldn't come as a surprise since the Vita does the same thing, and the PSTV and Vita are essentially the same devices. I've tested this in multiple environments and surprisingly, it was bearable even while both systems were wireless. Now granted, games like 1001 Spikes and Fez will certainly be unplayable. Basically any game that requires twitch reactions just aren't meant to be played through a streaming network. However, I played P.T., Destiny and Sleeping Dogs, and each game seemed to hold up rather well.

The picture wasn't super clear as the PSTV outputs at 720p, meaning all those gorgeous games like Destiny will look slightly less sharp than they would from your PS4. That actually didn't bother me as much though. The picture still looked pretty decent.

Now of course the best scenario here is if you have both systems hardwired with an Ethernet cable, but therein lies the problem. People who will want to play their PS4s in other rooms will have to have a stupidly long Ethernet cable if the router is located elsewhere. So to get optimal performance of streaming, you'll need to do some router rearranging, or go shopping for long Ethernet cables. It's certainly not ideal. That is why I listed streaming your PS4 in both columns, because it's certainly a hit or miss scenario.

Like I mentioned previously, Vita games, and surprisingly even PSP games look pretty damn great on your TV. With titles like Danganronpa 1 and 2, Demon Gaze, Muramasa Rebirth, and of course the fan favorite, Persona 4 Golden not only looking great but playing great as well, it's easy for me to get excited about playing them on the big screen.

However, there are some glaring omissions that should have worked, especially given that the DualShock 4's touchpad can act as a touchscreen, along with the L3 and R3 buttons on the DualShock 3. Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Wipeout 2048, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment and even Soul Sacrifice Delta not being supported yet are huge surprises, especially since the latter two are already supported on the Japanese Vita TV.

Another no brainer of whether the PSTV is for you is whether you travel a lot or not. If you're out and about, chances are that your Vita will still be your go-to choice for all your on the go entertainment needs. Not to mention you'll have full access to all your content. For people like me who spend most of their time playing their Vita on their couch, I actually prefer to hook up my PSTV and then continue playing those games on the big screen.

This last point might be the strangest, but it probably makes the most sense. If you don't currently own a Vita, the PSTV is a completely nonsensical purchase for you. And that's despite there being a bundle that comes with a memory card, controller and a game. If you've owned a Vita for a while, chances are you have a slew of games, whether they're physical copies you've been collecting, digital games you've bought, or the slew of PS Plus games that release each month. That means when you get your PSTV, you're pretty much ready to dive straight into that content on your TV (assuming they're compatible). All it takes is to transfer that memory card from your Vita to your PSTV and you're good to go.

If you don't own a Vita, that means you're starting fresh. You have no games, you don't even have a memory card, and the 4GB card that comes in the bundle is pretty useless, since games can take up to 3GB of space, if not more. You might also not have a controller that's compatible. In the end, you're spending $100-$140 on the PSTV or the bundle, plus an additional $60 if you choose to have a DualShock 4 over a DualShock 3, not to mention the astronomical price for Sony's proprietary memory cards, costing you another $60 if you're going for the 32gb. At that point, you're much better off just getting yourself an actual Vita.

So there lies my problem with the PSTV. It's so perfect for me personally. I love what it does, and don't care about what it doesn't. As for the game library, it'll grow, and I think I'm patient enough for that. I spent the same amount of money on an OUYA last year and still firmly believe the PSTV is a much better purchase. However I'm an extremely miniature minority here. The majority of people will care that it's missing a lot of features and games that should work out of the box. A lot of people will care that the PS4 streaming isn't all that great. A lot of people won't be patient enough for Sony to make more games compatible. Sony could have probably held off on releasing the PSTV another few months, to make sure the game library is a lot stronger.