As with the PS3, the PlayStation Vita has the potential to be an incredibly impressive media centre despite being a handheld device. With the majority of users opting to have larger memory cards installed in their consoles of 32Gb or greater in size, it beggars belief that Sony Interactive Entertainment haven’t given the PS Vita (and in turn the PlayStation TV) greater support when it comes to media playback.
It’s not to say that the console’s integrated features are bad per se, it’s that they are not as good as they could be given the Vita’s capabilities. The video player is more than capable and gives sterling results on the OLED screen of the original model of the console and for those who own the PlayStation TV not only do videos look great when played on a television in 720p, but also work extremely well when streamed from a PS Vita to a television remotely.
The picture viewer, while basic, does the job well and the ability to create panoramic images is a great bonus although the music player’s inability to create playlists has disappointed many, especially considering the potential storage capacity the console has when it comes to music. The fact that the Vita can be used to play music in the background while running other software only adds to the frustration here giving users limited control over their music.
The real frustration comes when it comes to mainstream video services. Even though it is available in America, the streaming service Netflix isn’t available to Vita owners elsewhere despite demands for the service from gamers worldwide and the same for Amazon Instant Video. While both have the potential to expand the number of subscribers to each service just by offering it to PS Vita owners, it’s also the content that Vita owners can’t access or need to seek elsewhere that makes their absence more frustrating.
With the departure of other streaming services like Youtube it leaves PS Vita owners with a solitary choice – purchasing or renting videos from the PlayStation Store. That’s not to say that we’re not spoiled for choice but it can make video on the PS Vita a rather expensive affair. Unlike Sony’s free music video service for the PS3 VidZone, and its game streaming service PlayStation Now, there’s nothing similar for movies. If you want a movie on the PS Vita (by legal means, at least), then you have to either buy or rent it. That’s not to say that choices are restricted though – far from it…
Sci-fi and fantasy fans are certainly well catered for, both with film and television shows. If there’s a movie series you can think of it’s probably available and most modern shows make an appearance available as single episodes or complete seasons allowing fans to keep up to date with broadcasts in the US. It’s certainly not as good as being able to watch shows included in subscription packages, but for those crying out for the latest episode of The Walking Dead or catching up with episodes missed on terrestrial television in the UK like Gotham, then it’s a lifesaver.
As a movie lover what helps me when it comes to choosing movies to watch at any time is the fact that everything has been categorised. Whether I’m looking for films by genre, or even in specific themed groups, it does make things easier to find, especially if I am in a certain frame of mind to watch something. If I want to watch a superhero movie, they’re all in one place. While the web version does offer more functionality including recommendations, and suggestions based on what your friends have purchased, it’s still easy to find things to watch.
Granted, it’s not always easy making your mind up even if you do look at the recommendations made to you. While the Superhero suggestions are straightforward enough, you might want to try something a little different. A little digging could uncover some real gems and classics you might not have thought about watching including one of the most recommended films from online pokies guide, The Sting.
Unfortunately, unless Sony unveil a new subscription-based movie and TV service across the PlayStation Network to challenge Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, Vita owners will have to settle for renting and buying but at least with the thousands of movies on offer and the quality to choose from I guess it’s not that bad afterall…