PlayStation TV Launches, Sans Netflix

It's time to welcome the newest IP set-top on the block. Sony joined the growing club Tuesday, officially launching the PlayStation TV in North America.

While Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE)'s new paperback-sized device is primarily a gaming machine, it also serves as a media streamer with initial support for apps, including Sony's Crackle video-on-demand (VoD) service, anime app Crunchyroll and the music concert and documentary service, Quello. The PS TV system sells for $99.99 on its own, or bundled (for a limited time) with a DualShock 3 gamepad, an 8GB memory card and the Lego Movie Videogame for $139.99. It will debut in Europe on November 14.

The PlayStation TV is built like the portable PS Vita gaming system, but without a screen, and with some additional ports. On the back of the device are power, Ethernet, HDMI and USB ports alongside the PS Vita memory-card and game slots.

But the PS TV is just as notable for what it doesn't support as for what it does. While users can download the existing Vita apps for Netflix, Hulu Plus and YouTube, none of them work today with PS TV. Sony specifically says to "stay tuned for additional entertainment content we'll be adding soon to the PS TV lineup." However, Gizmodo reports that Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) at least has no plans to support Sony's new streamer. Hulu LLC is apparently working with Sony to enable the Hulu Plus app, but there are no details on timing.

Want to know more about OTT services? Check out our dedicated OTT content channel here on Light Reading.

PS TV also doesn't support DLNA, which means it's not meant to be used as part of a whole-home media network. And the wireless specs only include support for 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 2.1 connectivity. Not surprisingly, the system is also not built to handle 4K video output.

What Sony may bring to the PS TV in the future is its much touted over-the-top video service. The company said in January that when the pay-TV service launches, it will be available on Sony's own connected devices. However, it's not clear how appealing the new service will be. Recent reports suggest Sony is having trouble keeping the price point down because of content licensing costs and may end up charging as much as $80 a month for the service. (See Playing Catchup With CES and Sony, Dish Hit OTT TV Pricing Wall.)

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading

jabailo 10/16/2014 | 10:28:53 AM
Re: The Mouse In The Room I am not sure if "power" on the box matters any more.  If you've got a whole cloud doing the rendering, and the device is merely an HDMI endpoint, it's got more overall power than any local box could have!

KBode 10/16/2014 | 9:32:08 AM
Re: The Mouse In The Room I already have three devices connected to my television that can stream Netflix. That's not including my laptops, tablet and smartphone. And I don't even have a smart TV embedded with Netflix or other apps. I'm curious just how many streaming TV devices these vendors think we need?
kq4ym 10/16/2014 | 9:24:55 AM
Re: The Mouse In The Room Even though the Sony box seems to be a step towards it's proposed streaming network offerings, it just doesn't have enough appeal for me to consider buying. The price seems reasonable, but there's still too much competition out there. It does seems the new devices muddy up the TV viewing waters, it may be still too confusing for consumers not already PlayStation advocates to switch brands.
KBode 10/16/2014 | 9:19:12 AM
Re: The Mouse In The Room I find myself using my Roku 3 most of the time, a bit more powerful hardware does seem to help in some instances, like streaming content stored on PC to the living room. Though hardware certainly isn't everything -- I use the Roku to stream Netflix when I've also got Netflix on the much more powerful Playstation 4.
jabailo 10/15/2014 | 9:43:19 PM
Re: The Mouse In The Room The thing is you can also run games on Chromecast.   I have a "Classic Gamepack" I bought (for $1.25) that lets you play Pong, Asteroids, etc.   Now I will admit, the performance is horrible.  However, you can see the trend...at the point that the Telcos roll out 1Gpbs fiber and wireless, it may be possible to have "client-less" gaming.    From what I can determine, Chromecast, in its native mode, is essentially getting an HDMI stream from the cloud.  That is why it can be so tiny.   The rendering is done serverside.   If that can be done, and Google proves it can, then a box, no matter how tiny,  becomes an anachronism.

danielcawrey 10/15/2014 | 8:35:27 PM
Re: The Mouse In The Room I think there is some opportunity for Sony here, which I know the company needs. 

The differentiator? The face that Playstation TV does more than just content, but also gaming. I realize that a lot of gaming is done on mobile devices. But those devout to PlayStation are a loyal bunch. I would not be surprised if this ends up being successful for Sony despite the glut of competing products. 
jabailo 10/15/2014 | 12:04:36 PM
The Mouse In The Room Set top boxes galore, first Apple, then Amazon, now Sony.   But they seem to be ignoring the mouse in the room, Chromecast.  (In fact, even it's progenitor, Google has plans for a set top).

Chromecast is breakthrough in so many ways, most of all because its content stream directly from the cloud, not having to be converted to HDMI output via a computer or other box.  The controls are entirely software based.  I run it off of Chromecast apps on my Lenovo Ideatab tablet.

I'm not sure how you put the content cows back in the barn given the topology of Chromecast.  In fact, with higher and higher broadband speeds, it's hard to see where any type of proprietary box stands a long term future, especially with the technologies that you and I read about every day here, SDN!

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