October 15, 2014

More on MicroConsoles

There were two big events in the world of MicroConsoles this week.  The first being that the Playstation TV launched in North America, and the second being the (surprise?) announcement of Google's Nexus Player.

I talked about the Playstation TV before (when it was called Playstation Vita TV, well it still is in Japan).  Basically it's a Vita in a box.  A somewhat stripped down one, it turns out, since it doesn't run nearly all the games or apps that the Vita does.  To be fair, some of the limitations make sense, since there is no touchscreen involved anymore.  However, the fact that Netflix and other video streaming apps don't work doesn't make a bit of sense.  Netflix has said they have no plans of supporting the system, either.  So if you planned on buying the PS TV for your video streaming needs - look elsewhere.  (Amazon Fire TV has it beat hands down, there - so does the $35 Google Chromecast - and basically any other WiFi enabled device you can plug into a TV via HDMI.)

But you aren't buying a PS TV for the TV part - you are buying for the GAMES, right?  Well, hold on...  Because not all PS Vita games work with PS TV.  And Playstation Now (the game streaming / rental service from Sony) is INSANELY EXPENSIVE - so stay clear.  (Sometimes it is CHEAPER to buy the games from the PS Store than to stream them.  And it is almost always cheaper to buy them in physical form - especially used.)

And, did I mention that the Playstation Vita only has 1GB of onboard storage - and the only way to add storage is through Sony's proprietary PS Vita Memory Card.  Those are retailing for more than $1 per GB at the moment.  Some cards almost $2 per GB, depending on size and store and sale.  And you will need a card if you want to download anything.  1GB of storage will not cover much in the way of gaming.  Heck, you'd be lucky to fit more than 1 PS-one classic on there.

So.... for now, unless they change a LOT of the software limitation, and significantly lower the cost of their Vita Memory - I would have to strongly advise passing on a PS TV - as much as I wanted them to be cool.

On the other hand, we have the Google Nexus Player.  I mentioned in my last MicroConsole focused post that Google had bought a game controller company which made some speculate the big G would be entering the game console market.   Well, they sort-of have now. In much the same way Amazon sort-of has with their Fire TV.  The Google Nexus Player is more of a Android Box than MicroConsole - but it is FAR better than the now-defunct "Google TV" boxes of the past.

Like the Fire TV, the Nexus Player is a MicroConsole style set-top-box with an optional game controller.  However, it doesn't appear the game controller was made by the company that Google bought.  It appears to be made by Asus.  Also, it appears to be the exact same controller as the OnLive MicroConsole with the media buttons removed (which is supper odd, since they would actually have potential use here, as opposed to on the OnLive system, which had no media apps whatsoever) and rounded mid-face buttons.

Seriously - Look at them!

Look, I know I said the same thing for the Amazon Fire TV's controller - but this is right out the same controller.  No moving of sticks and D-pads.  The angles - the contours - the indicator lights - everything!  It's the same stinking controller I tells ya!

The Nexus Player seems like a far more solid system, offering the full Android 5.0 (Lollipop) experience and a far more powerful set of specs - including the ability to handle 1080p, which the PS TV lacks.

I'm not saying you have to rush out and get either one (the Nexus Player isn't out yet, it was just announced today, with preorders coming latter this month).  But I'm saying of all the MicroConsoles I've seen, the Nexus Player is the best, with the Amazon FireTV coming a close second.

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