The PS Vita TV seems kind of confusing if you try to wrap your head around it: So, it's a PS Vita, but it's not really portable? And it doesn't have a screen? You hook it up to your TV? You need a separate controller?
Getting some time to actually fiddle with the "world's smallest PlayStation" at this year's Tokyo Game Show made me realise that I was going about it wrong. You shouldn't try to wrap your head around it. The Vita TV is exactly as it's been explained and it all makes sense when you actually use it.
Inside, the Vita TV is a PS Vita, minus the touch interface. Controls are for the most part intuitive, although there was a moment or two when I found myself thinking how much easier it would be on the PS Vita where I could select a menu or option simply by touching the screen. Of course, the lack of the touch screen means that some PS Vita games will not be Vita TV compatible. On the other hand, since the controller is a DualShock 3, archive games that utilised the R2 and L2 buttons feel more natural.
In case anyone was wondering, you can also play most PS Vita games where you have the physical game card. There is a card slot that opens up under the "PS VITA" label on the end so you're not necessarily restricted to download games only.
I also got a chance to check out remote play for the PS4. Granted, it was in a controlled environment, so there was no detectible lag. However, I was informed that while they are still in testing, things like network setup and distance will potentially affect lag times. Knack ran smooth as butter in HD, but who knows if it'll be able to perform like in the ad.
Video output is HDMI only. Remote play can currently display at up to 1080i, but as the machine is still in development, this could be subject to change. I was assured that the actual remote play would look even better than what I saw, which wasn't bad.
Release has been announced for Japan and Asia. Other areas are "currently in consideration." Personally, the Vita TV could be a great PR tool for the PS Vita in areas where Vita sales are weaker or where gamers tend to prefer home consoles to portable ones.
In all other aspects, if you've handled or used a PS Vita, for the most part, you'll feel perfectly at home handling the Vita TV. There are some Vita TV-specific apps in development but for the most part, there aren't any major surprises in store for you. Here's a video to give you an idea of the size compared to a 3DS XL.
In retrospect, I find myself wishing that Sony had released the Vita TV first, before they released the PS Vita. Handling the Vita TV makes me appreciate just how much potential the PS Vita has. If you're on the fence about getting a PS Vita, try handling a Vita TV and it'll make your mind for you.
But of course, it's not out yet…
The PS Vita TV is scheduled for release in Japan on November 14. As stated before, other areas are still in consideration.