Today, Sony announced the PS Vita TV, a small set-top, budget-priced multimedia streaming station that directly competes with Apple TV. The basic US$95 set gives users the basic streaming utilities they’ve come to expect from devices like Apple TV and Roku, including Hulu and movie rentals. However, it takes things one step further with the addition of DualShock 3 controller and PS Vita game support.
PS Vita is Sony’s hand-held game device, which, by Sony’s own admission, isn’t selling as well as it might like despite some strong gaming titles. Vita TV is a potential game changer for the struggling system, allowing users to play Vita games on their big-screen TV for a cost well below the standard entry fee for any current-generation gaming system.
In addition to game support, Vita TV has some cutting-edge cross-connectivity with the upcoming PlayStation 4 game console. Gamers will be able to stream their games from the PS4 to the PS Vita TV in another room of the house. For single TV homes, this isn’t a big deal, but for families looking to keep the peace when junior wants to play video games and the folks want to watch American Idol, this feature is going to be a big selling point.
Currently, the device is priced at ¥9,480 in Japan, $95, for the basic model and ¥14,280, or $143, for a version that comes with a DualShock 3 controller and an 8 GB memory card. While Apple TV allows gaming via the AirPlay feature, it lacks a standard recognizable game controller beyond your iPhone or iPad. Sony’s competitive pricing, even for the version that comes with its controller, and the Vita’s existing library of new games and ports of PS1 / PS2 titles, gives it a strong selling point entering the market.
We know that Apple is bringing game controller support to iOS with iOS 7. Given that Sony currently hasn’t announced plans for a PS Vita TV release in North America, Apple seemingly has plenty of time to improve the gaming landscape of Apple TV. Sony’s announcement might just be the starting gun on a new race to see whose budget streaming-media device will rule them all.
The low cost of entry on both devices will make them attractive to users in developing countries who want to game, but don’t have hundreds and hundreds of dollars to put into a normal console. Considering Apple TV gaming currently requires an iOS device as a controller, Sony is currently winning on that price front. Hopefully Apple has an answer to that problem in the planning stages.