Sony’s ‘Casual’ PS Vita Impresses, but the Vita TV Box Heralds Bigger Things

Sony unveils a smaller Vita and a Vita-based TV box.

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A few weeks ago I asked “Should You Buy a PlayStation Vita?

I cobbled together a 10-step guide on the heels of Sony’s $50 Vita price drop at Gamescom in Cologne. Here’s the abridged version: best dedicated games handheld ever made, bar none, except no one’s making platform-defining games for it. A Lamborghini’s just a sleek hulk of carbon fiber and chrome highlights without road to roll on.

The dearth-of-great-games problem can’t be overstated, but the price drop’s a step in the right direction. And here’s another potential arrow in the Vita’s quiver: a smaller, lither Vita aimed at casual gamers, unveiled at a pre-Tokyo Games Show press event on Sunday.

We’re still waiting for international release details, but if you live in Japan, they’ll launch on Oct. 10. Yes, they: Sony announced six multi-colored versions at the show, each 20% thinner and 15% lighter than the existing Vita, with about six hours of battery life, says Sony. Apparently pink’s an option, too.

Call it the PCH 2000 or PS Vita 2000, because Sony does. It’ll ship with 1GB of storage memory (the existing PS Vita has none) and let you stick in up to 64GB Sony memory cards (no price on those yet). The Vita 2000 won’t support 3G — it’s Wi-Fi-only — but then you don’t want a Vita to fiddle with maps and GPS, do you? (And no, Sony doesn’t support online gameplay over a 3G link.)


In slightly weirder news, Sony announced something it’s calling PS Vita TV: a cigarette pack-sized 110-gram console version of the Vita without a screen or controller (but game and memory card slots) that you can plug into your TV, then use to play Vita games on your big-screen (via an HDMI cable) with a DualShock 3 controller. It’ll include one USB 2.0 port, Bluetooth, 1GB of internal storage (like the Vita 2000), Wi-Fi and an Ethernet port.

Note: Assuming the games are still rendered internally at 960 × 544 and the box has to upscale to 720p (1280 x 720) or 1080p (1920×1080), we’re talking about interpolation, which, upscaler quality depending (Vita or TV), could mean a nominal visual downgrade when playing Vita games.

But what’s interesting about PS Vita TV may not be the Vita stuff at all: You can also use the set-top to wirelessly stream games played on a PlayStation 4 to another TV and access streaming services like Hulu. Joystiq notes the Vita TV will sell for 9,954 yen with tax (about $100 USD) and launch on Nov. 14 in Japan, and says Sony will also sell a bundle version with an 8GB Vita memory card and DualShock 3 controller for 14,994 yen (about $150 USD).

Was the Vita really Sony’s media-box-in-disguise strategy all along? If Vita TV debuts stateside for $100 and includes competitive channel support (big “if” there), Sony could well shake things up with a cheap media box that offers what its competitors do as well as something they don’t: console-quality game support.