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Editorial: Why PS Vita TV is a pretty big deal

by Andrew Yoon, shacknews.com, Sep 9, 2013 11:00AM PDT

PS Vita TV is a pretty big deal--even if it may not seem that way at first. Currently announced for Japan only, PS Vita TV is Sony's answer to Apple TV. It's a microconsole with games that people care about--at a price point that's incredibly attractive to consumers.

For $99, PS Vita TV is the cheapest way of entering the PlayStation ecosystem. It's half the cost of the cheapest PS3. And although Vita TV may not have the largest library of games, the combined collection of Vita, PS Mobile, PSP, and PSone titles on the PlayStation Network makes it a pretty viable gaming platform nonetheless.

For gamers, PS Vita TV seems to offer more than the similarly-priced OUYA. And Vita has as much (if not more) support from the indie community than the curious Android-powered competition. If that weren't enough, there's a tremendous amount of potential with Remote Play. PS Vita TV can become an additional hub for PS4, enabling you to have the next-gen console in your living room, and give you the ability to play those same games on a different TV in the same house--without shelling out another $400. And once Sony launches its Gaikai-powered games streaming service, PS Vita TV will gain access to an even larger library of PS3 and PS4 games.

Apple has been taking their sweet time prepping a gaming-enabled TV device that everyone has been asking for. Touch Arcade calls PS Vita the set top box "that does what we wish the Apple TV did." For now, Apple TV only supports streaming iOS games via AirPlay--mirroring games you play on your iOS device on the big screen.

Of course, with its $99 price point, PS Vita TV also opens up the market to non-gaming types that simply want a cheap media player for their TV. Sony's device doesn't have the comprehensive app support that Apple TV does. But, it has the major players: Netflix, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. In addition, the PlayStation Store offers much of what iTunes does in terms of video rentals and purchases--and Sony's recently relaxed DRM makes that content portable across multiple devices.

If marketed correctly, PS Vita TV can reach a truly broad audience. And if it takes off, we wouldn't be surprised to see the Vita library grow as a consequence. However, there are still challenges for Sony. The name is a bit confusing, and even hardcore gamers will probably be unclear what games will work on the device. And who knows what the next iteration of Apple TV will hold? Although Sony's announcement may have beaten Apple to the punch, it's unlikely that Cupertino will continue letting this potential market go unchallenged.