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The Playstation Vita, Sony’s premier handheld gaming device, launched early last year, but, despite its powerful hardware and robust feature set, it failed to grasp a large part of the portable gaming audience. Sony is looking to change that and reinvigorate their Vita brand by turning the handheld into a console. The Playstation Vita TV, in similar vein to the Apple TV, Chromecast and Ouya, is a sub-$100 compact video game console that plays games and various entertainment services right on your high-definition television screen.
The Vita TV is a 6.5×10.5 cm. box that hooks up to your TV via HDMI. It supports video output in 480p, 720p and 1080i. Since it’s based on the Vita handheld hardware, it plays all games available for that system, both physical and digital. The device features slots for Vita game and memory cards, ports for USB, HDMI and Ethernet, and built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Vita TV will include 1 GB of internal storage, but as current Vita owners can tell you, that is not nearly enough if you plan to buy and play games digitally.
Players will control the Vita TV with a DualShock 3, the same controller used for Sony’s Playstation 3. The DualShock 3 lacks the touchscreen and camera functionality of the original Vita handheld, so any Vita games that require those methods of input will not work on the Vita TV. Even so, the Vita TV will have a library of 1,300 software titles playable on the device, including Vita, PSP and PS1 games that are available for download on the Playstation Network marketplace.
The Vita TV includes apps, such as an Internet browser and email, and compatibility with Sony’s LiveTweet Twitter client and Reader eBook software. A multitude of entertainment services will also be provided through the device. Services for regions outside of Japan have yet to be announced, but Japanese video services include Hulu, Tsutaya TV, Nico Nico Douga and Sony’s own Video Unlimited.
The Vita TV will support Remote Play with the Playstation 4. This means that if you have both a Playstation 4 and a Vita TV, you’ll be able to wirelessly stream Playstation 4 games from anywhere in your house and play them through your Vita TV. The Vita TV can also connect with other Vita systems for ad-hoc multiplayer.
The Vita TV will debut in Japan on Nov. 14, with no set date for other regions. It will retail for 9,840 yen, approximately $95. A separate bundle will include a DualShock 3 controller and an 8 GB memory card for 14,280 yen, which comes to approximately $143.
With Sony’s increasing game support from both indie developers and major game publishers alike, the Vita TV seems like it could be a very nifty device to pick up at less than $100. That price is almost worth it just to see games like Persona 4 Golden on a big screen.
By Alfredo Dizon, eParisExtra