At a Japan-specific press conference, Sony revealed a number of upcoming hardware releases in the company’s home market, the biggest of which is a bit of a surprise. The PlayStation Vita TV is a small set top box device, not dissimilar in size to a fat iPhone, designed to connect Sony’s Music Unlimited and Video Unlimited content to TVs. But more importantly, the box can also play PS Vita and PSP games, and will be available with a controller.
The device launches in Japan in November for the equivalent of about $99 as a stand-alone unit, and will retail for about $150 with a PlayStation controller and storage card. As well as serving up Sony-specific content, it can also act as a remote access portal for the PlayStation 4, meaning you don’t have to physically connect the device to the TV. It will also deliver streaming video services like Hulu. There’s no mention of a global launch for the device yet, but it can’t be ruled out.
While the PS Vita TV may seem to be cannibalizing the company’s own existing games console businesses, its actually also rivaling Apple’s own TV device. The hardware is of a similar size and capability, and Apple is said to be planning a new hardware release soon. But it’s long been thought that the Apple TV could be Apple’s gateway device to the average user’s living room. The news at WWDC that Apple is planning Bluetooth gaming controllers with iOS7 compatibility has also been seen as a suggestion that gaming apps could soon hit the Apple TV.
Alongside the Vita TV, Sony also revealed a new version of its PS Vita handheld games console that will be skinnier and have longer battery life. It also announced the PlayStation 4 will be on sale in Japan on February 22nd 2014–much later than its North American and European launches on November 15th and 29th.