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Your Complete Guide to the PlayStation TV

Have you heard about the PlayStation TV? This overlooked micro-console lets you play PlayStation games on any TV.

In this comprehensive guide, we‘ll explore everything about the PlayStation TV including:

  • What it is and its place in PlayStation history
  • Technical specifications
  • Games and features
  • Bundles and pricing options
  • Reasons for its limited success
  • The cult following and modding community
  • Whether it‘s still worth buying today

Think of this as your ultimate insider‘s guide to PlayStation TV – Sony‘s innovative mini console that was ahead of its time. Let‘s get started!

Overview – Bringing PlayStation to Every TV

The PlayStation TV (known in some regions as PS Vita TV) was a digital media player and microconsole developed by Sony. Released in 2013, it allowed users to play PlayStation games on any TV connected via HDMI.

About the size of a pack of cards, the PlayStation TV featured:

  • A cartridge slot to play PlayStation Vita games
  • Access to digital PlayStation games from PS1, PSP, Vita, and PS3 (via PlayStation Now)
  • Remote Play for streaming PS4 games from the living room console
  • Media apps like Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll

Essentially, the PlayStation TV took the mobility of the handheld PlayStation Vita experience and transformed it for the living room TV.

Release Date and Market Performance

The PlayStation TV was first released in Japan on November 14, 2013 and sold well as the Vita TV. The North American launch came on October 14, 2014 with a $99.99 price aimed at attracting casual gamers.

However, sales struggled in Western markets. Sony ceased production of the PlayStation TV in 2015 in North America and Europe due to the lack of commercial success.

While it never went mainstream, a devoted community of hackers and modders continued optimizing and expanding the device‘s capabilities. This extended the PlayStation TV‘s lifespan well beyond its official support window.

PlayStation TV Specs and Hardware

Despite its petite form factor, the PlayStation packed the processing power needed for multiplayer gaming:

Spec Details
CPU Quad-core ARM Cortex-A9
GPU Quad-core SGX543MP4+
Memory 512MB RAM, 128MB VRAM
Storage 1GB internal, PlayStation Vita memory card expandable
Ports HDMI, Ethernet, USB 2.0
Wireless WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
Size 6.5cm x 10.5cm x 2.5cm

With a RAM and GPU configuration nearly identical to the PlayStation Vita handheld, the mini console could comfortably handle Vita games on an HDTV.

The compact footprint – smaller than a Vita – made it an easy addition to home entertainment setups. While not as powerful as a PS3 or PS4, the PlayStation TV‘s custom processor offered plenty of horsepower given its focus on indie titles and streaming.

Features and Games Library

Despite its small size, the PlayStation TV packed a robust suite of entertainment and gaming features:

PlayStation Vita Games

The PlayStation TV was designed primarily to play Vita games. Users could insert Vita game cards into the slot to play titles like:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • Wipeout 2048
  • Gravity Rush
  • Persona 4 Golden
  • Killzone: Mercenary

There were over 1,300 playable Vita games available, though some required hacks to work properly on the TV.

Streaming PS4 via Remote Play

One of the PlayStation TV‘s most novel features was PS4 Remote Play support. Users could stream gameplay wirelessly from a PS4 in another room and play on any TV with the PlayStation TV connected.

This allowed gamers to continue playing their PS4 seamlessly as they moved around the house.

PlayStation Now Game Streaming

As one of the earliest PlayStation Now compatible devices, the PlayStation TV gave users instant access to hundreds of PS3 games.

PlayStation Now game streaming allowed PlayStation TV owners to experience last-gen PlayStation exclusives like The Last of Us, God of War: Ascension, and Ratchet & Clank without needing to own a PS3.

PS1 and PSP Classics

The PlayStation Store on the PlayStation TV featured a vast library of PS1 and PSP games. Users could enjoy PlayStation classics like Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy VII, and Twisted Metal alongside PSP greats like God of War: Chains of Olympus.

Media Apps

In addition to games, the PlayStation TV provided access to popular media apps including:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu
  • YouTube
  • Crunchyroll
  • NFL Sunday Ticket

There was also a web browser so users could surf the web right from their TV.

While not as robust as dedicated streamers, these apps helped round out the entertainment options. Gamers could seamlessly switch between gaming and video streaming on a single device.

Pricing and Bundles

The PlayStation TV launched at just $99.99 – an aggressive price point sqarely targeting mainstream consumers.

Here‘s a look at the pricing and bundle options available:

Bundle Price Contents
PlayStation TV (standalone) $99.99 Console only
PlayStation TV Value Pack $139.99 Console, 8GB memory card, The Lego Movie Videogame download, HDMI cable
PlayStation TV Launch Bundle $139.99 Console, DualShock 3 controller, HDMI cable, The Lego Movie Videogame and Sly Cooper Thieves in Time downloads
PlayStation TV Ultimate Bundle $199.99 Console, DualShock 3 controller, 8GB memory card, HDMI cable, The Lego Movie Videogame, Sly Cooper Thieves in Time, God of War Collection downloads

With the cheaper standalone version, users could bring their own DualShock 3 controller and memory card from an existing PS3. This presented an extremely affordable entry point under $100.

Even the higher priced bundles cost a fraction of traditional home consoles. The bundles added extra value for new users without existing PlayStation controllers or memory cards.

Why the PlayStation TV Stumbled Out of the Gate

Despite being an innovative concept backed by an established brand, the PlayStation TV got off to a rocky start. Here are some of the factors that limited its success:

Confusing Messaging

Sony struggled to convey what the PlayStation TV was to consumers. Many saw it as just another streaming box rather than a dedicated PlayStation console.

The Vita TV branding in Japan better indicated it was for gaming. But the generic PlayStation TV name caused confusion in Western regions.

Limited Vita Appeal

While groundbreaking in certain ways, the PlayStation Vita handheld never caught on widely. Basing a microconsole around the niche Vita platform proved to be a challenging sell.

Minimal Marketing Investment

Sony did not back the PlayStation TV with a substantial marketing campaign. It received a fraction of the advertising support typically devoted to major PlayStation console launches.

Crowded Streaming Market

When it launched, the PlayStation TV entered an extremely competitive streaming device market occupied by the likes of Roku, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV.

It was difficult for the PlayStation TV to differentiate itself as a gaming platform rather than just another streamer.

Network Infrastructure Limits

Delivering seamless Remote Play and PlayStation Now streaming required fast, low-latency internet connections. In 2013-2014 average home networks were still lagging behind the connectivity demands.

Choppy performance due to inadequate Wi-Fi or bandwidth caps likely dampened reception of the PlayStation TV‘s streaming features.

Despite these challenges, a cult following soon emerged around the promising device.

The PlayStation TV‘s Cult Following

While the PlayStation TV never saw mainstream success, it attracted a devoted cult following within niche gaming circles.

Hardware modders and hackers helped realize the device‘s full potential beyond Sony‘s restrictions and limitations.

Whitelist Hack Opens Full Vita Library

The PlayStation TV could only natively play Vita games whitelisted by Sony as compatible. Hackers discovered a workaround involving the PSTV‘s memory cards that allowed access to the full Vita library.

This opened up hundreds more games and gave the PlayStation TV access to the complete Vita experience.

Sideloading Unofficial Apps and Software

Modders enabled the ability to install any Android APK files on the PlayStation TV. This allowed things like emulators for retro consoles to be sideloaded.

The homebrew community was constantly optimizing and expanding capabilities from video players to retro gaming beyond the PlayStation ecosystem.

Ongoing Homebrew Development

Enthusiasts regularly worked to update the PlayStation TV with custom firmware and apps. Dedicated online forums shared tips for hacking features, overclocking, and troubleshooting.

Long after Sony ceased active support, the homebrew community kept interest alive by tapping into the device‘s hidden potential.

Is the PlayStation TV Still Worth Purchasing Today?

Let‘s say you came across a PlayStation TV and were wondering if it‘s worth picking up in 2022. Here are a few things to consider:

Cost – Prices are inflated well beyond the original MSRP, often $200+ for a bundle. Deals can be found for patient shoppers, but expect to pay a premium.

Game Library – Purchasing digital PS1, PSP, and Vita titles is still straightforward. Physical Vita game availability is decent as well.

Features – Remote Play remains functional for private connections. PlayStation Now support was discontinued in early 2022 as the service winds down.

Collectability – As a relatively rare PlayStation collector‘s item, the PlayStation TV carries intrinsic value for diehard fans. But expect to pay collectible prices.

For the right buyer, the PlayStation TV is still an enjoyable way to explore Sony‘s catalog of PlayStation titles on one device. It also represents an influential early milestone in Sony‘s console evolution.

The PlayStation TV was truly a revolutionary idea that laid the groundwork for concepts like Remote Play on the PS5. While it never achieved mass market success, the PlayStation TV garnered a devoted following that continues preserving its legacy today.