Sony Aim To Reinvigorate The Vita With A New Model And TV Box
Although the Tokyo Game Show may not get underway until Thursday, September 19th Sony Japan preceded it with a rather revealing PlayStation conference.
Alongside confirmation of a February 22nd, 2014 PlayStation 4 Japanese launch date (a whole 3 months after us Brits will see it), Sony also built upon their recent Gamescom showing to further push the PlayStation Vita as an appealing handheld for the masses, introducing a new refreshed model.
Can Sony tempt prospective buyers with a revised Vita console along with something that very few people expected – PlayStation Vita TV.
A New Lease of Vita?
First lets start with the new Wi-fi only Vita. Dubbed the PCH-2000 (catchy!), the remodel (pictured above) touts a number of visual changes including being an impressive 20% thinner and 15% lighter than the first model, as well as being available in a vast selection of colours.
In terms of technical changes the screen has seen a downgrade from OLED to LCD, there is 1GB of built-in storage, and the battery life has seen a boost. A slot is still present for the Vita’s proprietary memory cards should you wish to expand upon the provided 1GB. Sony claim the battery life in the new Vita will gain you an extra hour of gameplay, most likely due to the screen downgrade demanding less power.
This trend of revisionist hardware is certainly not alien to Sony, with all of their consoles receiving new versions throughout their lifetimes. Their last handheld, the PlayStation Portable, saw a total of four, including the ill-fated PSPgo.
October 10th is when Japan will see this new model in stores for ¥18,980, translating to roughly £120. Although there has been no confirmation yet whether this will see the light of day outside Japan, at that potential price Sony would be unwise to keep it limited to that region only.
PlayStation Vita TV
Surprise! It’s the PlayStation Vita TV, coming to Japan on November 14th for ¥9,954 — roughly £60-70.
This 6cm-by-10cm box is Sony’s smallest console, coming in at around the size of a pack of playing cards. So, what can this actually do?
It connects directly to any TV via HDMI cable and can play everything the Vita can, including PlayStation Portable and PlayStation One downloadable titles, either through game cards or via the built in memory card slot. The DualShock 3 controller will be supported straight out of the box, with up to two able to be paired at once for multiplayer games. The Vita TV acts as a stand alone console, so multiplayer between the new set-top box and a separate Vita handheld is a possibility.
In addition to being able to play games it’ll support various on-demand TV services, (hopefully, if and when the device arrives in the UK it will include Netflix and Lovefilm). E-mail, Twitter, voice or text chat and an internet browser app are also offered.
If the handheld Vita is anything to go by then hopefully YouTube and video and music streaming will also be supported, although this has yet to be confirmed.
Probably the biggest news regarding Sony’s cheap TV device is its ability, via a future patch, to remote-play the PlayStation 4 through Wi-Fi — meaning you can play Sony’s upcoming next-gen console in another room using the DualShock 4 controller. So, not only a budget console, but a useful PS4 companion for streaming to another TV.
As with the new Vita model the PlayStation Vita TV has yet to be officially announced for the rest of the world, but it would be very odd if it didn’t happen.
Sony’s betting hard that an updated PlayStation Vita along with an impressive new Vita TV device will make for one compelling line-up of true companion products. Despite the struggles Sony may be facing in the handheld space, they soldier on.
For potentially less than the price of the Apple TV, Sony’s Vita TV could not only be a seriously good budget console in it’s own right, but may also offer a wholly more feature packed device when compared to your Apple’s and Roku’s of the world.
All your TV wants and an easy way to game? Sounds good to me.