There’s always plenty of excitement whenever a big name company releases its latest hardware device, yet the true test of any product occurs the moment consumers and critics are given the chance to try the products themselves. Sony’s new set-top box, the PlayStation TV, is no exception, released amid much anticipation as an alternative to the Chromecast, Apple TV, and the Roku Streaming Player, to name just a few.
Unfortunately, reception so far among users and critics alike have been average at best. The PlayStation TV was released in North America on October 14 at a competitive price point of $99. According to various reviews, however, it seems that the PlayStation TV’s relatively low cost is the only thing the box has going for it.
Basically, the PlayStation TV is a home console version of the PlayStation Vita handheld device, the spiritual successor to the once popular PlayStation Portable. Ah, the memories. Consumers are able to hook up their devices to their television sets via an HDMI cable to enjoy various media content such as movies and games that are available only on Sony’s digital PlayStation Store. Menu navigation is accomplished wirelessly using either a PS3 DualShock 3 or a PS4 DualShock 4 controller.
Given all these features, it’s easy to see why so many people were excited about Sony’s answer to Google, Apple, and Roku. So, why the poor reviews?
A key issue is that most PlayStation Vita software requires the unique dual touch function of the PS Vita. And herein lies the problem. The PS3 and PS4 controllers are unable to mimic the Vita controller experience for the PlayStation TV satsifactorily. The result is a considerable limitation on the amount of games that can be played on the PlayStation TV. Furthermore, screen resolution is capped at a mere 720p/1080i, a far cry from the 1080p standard that the majority of the film and video game industries adopted.
Although Sony’s PlayStation TV had plenty of potential, Sony squandered their opportunity to assert themselves as a serious set-top box contender given the device’s crippled functionality. With its $99 price point and access to PlayStation Vita titles, the PlayStation TV could have been the popularity boost Sony needed for its handheld console. Sadly, Sony’s set-top box was not ready for release, and with lackluster hardware specs and a poor marketing campaign, one must wonder if Sony has any true confidence in the product. Even as a hardcore PlayStation fan, it’s difficult justifying the purchase of the PlayStation TV.