The PS Vita TV Can Be a Great Console, If You Know What to do With It (Updated)

Update: Fixed a few errors relating to the PS Vita TV playing physical PSone/PS2 games, so thanks for the info gprime! Also added a handy chart at the bottom that shows off all the features of the system and compares it to the Apple TV and Ouya system.

Recently, Sony surprised most viewers of their recent pre-Tokyo Game Show conference with quite a few announcements, one of them being the PS Vita TV.

For those who are still confused by what the PS Vita TV is, it’s a model of the Vita that functions as a home console. According to the recent interview with Shuhei Yoshida, the PS Vita TV first came about from a desire to see what could be done with the original PS Vita’s hardware, and eventually a console using that hardware soon went into development. In other words, despite what you may have read from other sources, this new system is actually a Vita without the touch screen (or any screen for that matter).

Vita TV2

Now I know some people are wondering how could a strange device like this be useful. But for me, the Vita TV has the very awesome purpose of being able to play PSone games, PSP games and PSN games.

Currently I own a PS2, which lets me play the PSone games that I can’t play on my PS3. However, my incredibly old and rare TV adapter is starting to fail and a replacement would be very difficult to find, not to mention the state of my PS2. The PS Vita TV would allow me to play all of my old games while being able to download new ones off the PSN, giving me access to quite the gaming library. That same PSN library also includes quite a few indie titles, turning the Vita TV into a perfect indie system. Being able to play all my PSP games is especially great if I want to use my larger TV and it would allow me to bypass the admittedly terrible “analog nub” the PSP is notorious for. Finally, I can play PS Vita titles that are supported by the system, adding even more games to the already sizable pile. With a price point of only $100 ($149 with the controller), this system is an absolute steal.

The Remote Play feature of the PS Vita TV that lets you stream PS3 and PS4 games is very intriguing, and if implemented well, could really be a huge selling point. I would love to see what Sony does with this.

Vita TV

There are a couple nitpicks that I have, though. The first being the name. I honestly think that PS Vita TV was a poor name choice because there’s too much overlapping, which can cause serious confusion for those that would want to purchase the system. I understand that some of the console’s main purposes is to target more casual gamers that may not want to spend $400 on a brand new console, as well as compete with the Apple TV and Android TV. However, since this product is not directly related to the original Vita, the name is egregious at best. And if Sony is trying to target the same audience that would buy an Apple or Android TV, the name should be much closer to those products, not named after a product that would be relatively unknown to that crowd of buyers. Plus, Apple has incredibly strong brand recognition and loyalty among consumers, which makes it that much harder for Sony to squeeze into that particular market.

Second, the press conference did an incredibly poor job of even explaining all the features of the PS Vita TV and what games it supports. The introduction should have been clear cut and easy to understand, in order to ensure that misinformation would be kept at a minimum. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and there were many big industry websites spreading information that was either misleading or incorrect.

Lastly, I’m still wondering about PS2 games. There doesn’t seem to be any mention of the PS Vita TV being able to play PS2 games, which would be a very obtuse and pointless omission. Having access to that incredibly extensive library would make the purchase an absolute no-brainer, so hopefully Sony announces some kind of PS2 compatibility in the near future.

In short, even though the PS Vita TV needs more marketing, a name change and access to PS2 games to become an absolute must-buy console, it’s still a very promising and honestly excellent idea. I’m curious to see how far this system can go.

The chart:

Vita TV3

Join the Discussion

  • foureyes oni

    this mini console not playing ps2 games baffles me as well, if its got the juice to play vita games then it should be able to play ps2 games as well.

    • Allisa James

      Yeah seriously. The only reason I have for that is apparently it’s hard to emulate and generally deal with the PS2’s disc format. But it’s definitely possible and I hope Sony looks into that.

      • ckright

        When Gakai comes out you will beable to play ps2 games on the psvita tv.

        • Allisa James

          That’s actually a really good idea. Hopefully that’ll be the case.

  • gprime

    Why would this be able to play physical ps2 games? It has no disc slot, and is smaller than a ps2 disc.

    • Allisa James

      I figured it’s possible because the PS Vita TV can play physical PSone games, so it should be able to (size wise) play PS2 games. But now that I look at it, how would it be able to even *play* PSone discs in the first place?

      • gprime

        It can’t play physical psone discs. It can only play the ones you download off the psn. The only physical games it can play are ps vita games.

        • Allisa James

          Ah it seems I made a mistake with that–thanks for the information! But going from there, the PS Vita TV doesn’t seem like it can play PS2 games since the Yoshida interview and other sources don’t mention it at all. Only the other types of games.

          • gprime

            You are correct. It can’t play ps2 games at all. It can play games downloaded from the psn for the psp, psone and vita. Sony tried ps2 emulation on certain models of the ps3, and it didn’t work out well, so they’ve given up on that. As you mentioned, it will also be able to stream games from the ps4, and a handful of games from the ps3 (very limited selection).

          • Allisa James

            That’s what I’ve heard too. It’s a shame that PS2 games seem to give Sony such a difficult time :/

  • ruefrak

    Wait, what? You said very clearly that this is a PS Vita without a screen. How does playing physical PS2 games even enter the equation? Can a PS Vita play physical PS2 games? Can it play digital PS2 games? No, of course not. So why the expectation that a Vita connected to a TV would be able to? Hell, the PS3 can’t even play PS2 games unless they’ve been remade to work as a PS2 Classic.
    The VitaTV will be able to play PSP, PS1, and compatible Vita games. It will also be able to do remote play and stream games from a PS4 (just like a regular Vita can). It will be a PS4 extender, allowing you to play your PS4 on a TV other than the one it’s connected to.
    Where the future for this device really lies is in Gaikai. If Sony can get the Gaikai service working in the way they dream it will, then the VitaTV will be the least expensive way to have access to all of that content.
    Today it plays the original Tomb Raider and Dragon’s Crown, but those are just stop gaps. In two years it will play Uncharted and Infamous. And as the technology improves, in five years it will be playing PS4 games. All for around $100.

    • Allisa James

      My point was that since it could play other types of games, including PSone games, I didn’t understand why it seems to omit PS2 games. It’s not a deal breaker but I would prefer the system to have that option.

      It would be interesting though if Gaikai would allow for PS2 game streaming or something like that. If Sony announces it later on, it would definitely be a great fix.

      • ruefrak

        Because of the different chipsets between the consoles, the only way to get a PS2 game running on a different console involves emulating a different processor. It would be expensive and time consuming and in the end, not many people would use it. Sony has thrown everything into the Gaikai basket, and “Everything, everywhere” is their motto. If you remember David Perry at the PS4 launch event he said that one day you will be able to play PS1, PS2, PS3, and PS Mobile games on any device.
        My guess is that PS3 games is going to be the focus out of the gate. PS2 games lack a lot of what is now expected in games, like HD graphics, Trophies, and multiplayer.

        • Allisa James

          That makes a lot of sense. And I’ve been hearing that same issue with PS2 games, which is unfortunate :/

  • Jon Lowe

    Crunchyroll is being added to the Vita very soon. They announced it in July, so I imagine it will be on soon.

    • Allisa James

      That’s awesome news!

  • TheExile285 ♜

    I have a original Vita and I will probably buy this

    • Allisa James

      Yeah me too. It’s seems like a really solid system.

  • MegaRay

    If only PS2 games can work in Vita or PS4 that would be great, or atleast remaster the top games…(ape escape, Megaman X8, DON (i think its better than J-vs)…etc)

  • Dollow Rlance

    I would buy this just so I can play my PS1 & PSP game on a HD screen, RETRO GAMES HERE I COME!!

  • Nicholas Perry

    It won’t play PS2 games because simply the PSVita can’t emulate the PS2. (Though they most likely COULD emulate it on the PS4 allowing you to play your own discs if they felt like doing so. If they can get reasonable entirely software emulation of both the PS1 and 2 on the PS3 there’s no way in hell they can’t on the PS4.)

    And it certainly can’t play PSP or PSVita games at native 720p. So it’s going to be ugly on a high resolution monitor/tv anyway.

  • Imnus

    Hi, thanks for your article.

    I wanted to clarify something the problem isn’t that it’s hard to emulate and generally deal with the PS2’s disc format. The PS2 disc format is normal DVD-R, the real problem is that the PS2 (and the PS3 for that matter) has a very complex system architecture, it’s not about power, the PS4 is about 10 times more powerful than the PS3 but the PS3 processors are extremely difficult to emulate.

    That was also true for the PS3 emulating the PS2, initially Sony put the PS2 processors inside the PS3 so you could play PS2 games on your PS3. However this made the PS3 more expensive (remember $600) so Sony eventually dropped it, that’s why later PS3 systems don’t support PS2 games.

    The PS2 games that you can buy on the PlayStation®Store for your PS3 aren’t the original PS2 games, those are ports specifically remade to work on PS3. The idea of Sony is to offer the whole PlayStation catalog via GAKAI eventually, since you’ll be streaming the games it won’t matter if you’re using a PS4 or PSVIta since the heavy work will be done on GAKAI servers and then the image will be streamed to your console.

    • Durian

      But that gets me thinking, are the games running on lots of PS3’s or emulated through software. Either way I don’t see many games being supported because the server load would be too much. Perhaps a select few will be available and then replaced with another few every 2 or 3 months.