Sony PlayStation TV hands-on review

Sony PlayStation TV review

At E3 2014, Sony announced new hardware in the form of the PlayStation TV (it's new for everywhere apart from Japan where it has been available as PlayStation Vita TV). Well we've managed to get some hands-on time with the micro-console at the 2014 Argos Christmas product showcase in London. See also: Xbox One vs PS4 comparison.

The first thing to note about the PlayStation TV is just how small the thing is – much more compact than your average media streaming box like a Roku or Apple TV. It's incredibly thin and has a footprint smaller than most smartphones.

Somehow Sony has packed all the necessary tech inside the little black box with enough room for a few ports at the back - HDMI, Ethernet, USB and Sony's proprietary Vita memory card slot. We can imagine hiding it away very easily due to its miniature profile – not that it's ugly or anything.

Sony PlayStation TV review: Price and release date

When it launches in autumn this year, in plenty of time for Christmas, it will set you back just £85. That's pretty affordable and fits in with the price of many current media streamers. We understand there will also be a more expensive bundle including a DualShock 3 controller, HDMI cable, 8GB memory card and the Lego Movie game, although we don't have a UK price or release date yet.

Specs wise there's Bluetooth 2.1 and 802.11n Wi-Fi so you can choose a wireless or wired connection to your network. We're told setup is simple by way of a code you type in onscreen (the demo unit was already ready to go).

Sony PlayStation TV review ports

Sony PlayStation TV review: Features

The first thing that the PlayStation TV achieves is being able to play PS4 games on a second screen, i.e. one which your PS4 isn't plugged into; you can simply take your controller with you. It's called PS4 Link Remote Play and frees up your main screen, presumably in the lounge, for whatever it needs to be used for other than PlayStation gaming. See also: How to play PS3 games on PS4: Is it possible?

It worked well during our demo with only a small delay to get going initially. This feature alone makes the gadget a good buy for any homes where fighting over the remote is an issue, or you're simply lazy and want to play games in other rooms.

Sony PlayStation TV review remote play

This isn't the only thing the PlayStation TV can do though. Whether you own and PS4 or not, the pint-sized gadget will stream both music and video content via Sony's Unlimited entertainment network. However, Sony has confirmed that it is in talks with third-party providers with the aim of offering more apps.

The firm won't comment on which ones but Netflix was strongly hinted to us and other big names seem likely (BBC iPlayer, ITV Player etc). These would certainly make the PlayStation TV a more attractive buy, especially as a stand-alone product. The device also has a built-in web browser and other features such as PlayStation Network messaging and trophies.

PlayStation TV also has the ability to plays PS Vita titles, both physical and downloaded digital versions, giving the opportunity to play handheld games on a big screen.

Sony PlayStation TV review: PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now adds to the device's claim to being a great individual product but isn't available to test yet. It is essentially a streaming service for games but there's no European or UK release date for it yet. There's a nice gap on the homescreen waiting for its arrival.

The PlayStation TV will be PS Now ready for when it does launch. Sony touts 1,000 titles when the launch does come about across platforms right back to the original PlayStation. Details are thin on the ground but gamers will be able to rent individual titles or choose a subscription package.

PlayStation Now has a lot of potential but will hinge largely on the pricing model which Sony opts for. It will be available on devices other than the PlayStation TV, such as Bravia TVs and even non Sony products but this device will be one of the best ways of accessing it. The service is currently in Beta testing in the US ahead of a full release and we're told it's been going well but Sony's UK reps do have concerns over what it will be like on UK broadband. For anyone not signed up to speedy fibre optic, it may not work very well.

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Sony PlayStation TV: Specs

  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • USB
  • Sony Vita memory card slot
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi
  • HDMI
  • Ethernet
  • USB
  • Sony Vita memory card slot
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • 802.11n Wi-Fi

OUR VERDICT

At a reasonable price, the PlayStation TV is likely to be a big hit this Christmas – and not just for PS4 owners wanting to use Remote Play. There's huge potential here for the device to be a gadget in its own right but this hinges partly on third-party apps and even more so on PlayStation Now. We hope Sony can get things sorted for the winter season.