During the lead up to Christmas, consumers had to make a bold decision on whether to include a brand-new Apple TV or PlayStation TV to the holiday shopping list. The Apple TV and PlayStation TV micro-consoles and set-top boxes share some common aspects, but their biggest difference is as clear as night and day. It all comes down to one simple thing: gaming.
PlayStation TV was initially marketed as a way to enhance an existing PlayStation Vita experience. In essence, PlayStation TV is a mini-gaming console that also offers a few entertainment streaming options. Whereas, Apple TV started primarily as an entertainment portal with a plethora of digital streaming options for movies and music, but had only recently added gaming apps.
PlayStation set out to create a version of their hand-held Vita console that could compete with Apple TV and Roku. In November 2013, PlayStation TV debuted in Japan (where it was called Vita TV). By November 2014, PlayStation TV had debuted in North America and Europe. Sony thought it had the edge over Roku and Apple TV with their expansive gaming platform. In addition, PlayStation Vita TV users could also access PSP, old school PlayStation and all Vita games. According to sales figures released by Sony, combined sales of portable entertainment systems including PlayStation TV topped 3.5 million in 2013 and 4.1 million in 2014.
The second generation of Apple TV hit the marketplace in 2010 with glowing reviews for their superior video streaming content. During a conference in March 2015, Apple CEO Time Cook noted that Apple had sold over 25 million units for Apple TV. The most recent upgrade and fourth generation of Apple TV was released in October 2015. In addition to the sleek, newly designed remote control, Apple HQ announced the addition of gaming apps because they were committed to evolving Apple TV into a full-fledged app platform, following current consumer trends.
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GAMES AND SPORTS FAN APPS
Apple TV was designed to provide platforms for entertainment, including the vast library of on-demand movies from iTunes and a slew of content from Netflix. Apple TV developers have been slowly getting into the gaming side of things. The Apple TV app store sells a plethora of games designed for iPhones and iPads. However, their app developers have been hard at work designing the first wave of Apple TV video games, which includes the always-popular, rocking classic Guitar Hero.
Apple TV caters to users who previously sought out video content using apps like Hulu TV, Cackle TV, ESPN, Netflix, and HBO. However, thanks to its capacity to run apps just like an iPad or iPhone, Apple TV has opened the market for new streaming content apps additions. Major corporate brands such as Red Bull have gotten into the app business and sponsor both live concerts and festivals, plus sporting events from remote areas of the world. The Red Bull TV channel for Apple TV streams HD content both on-demand and in real time – with added emphasis to extreme sports, with perhaps the most famous video being one of Red Bull Stratos – Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from the edge of space that lasted 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Similarly, another brand app on Apple TV is PokerStars TV. PokerStars is a well-known online poker site that also sponsors international poker tours and runs a streaming content website, focusing on live tournament coverage, tutorials and tips. Thanks to the console, users can watch webcasts of the likes of European Poker Tour, PokerStars Carribean Adventure and more, in the same manner they would just choose a channel on their television.
LITTLE BLACK BOXES
Both Apple TV and PlayStation TV are sleek little black boxes. Neither is an actual TV. If you tell one of your older relatives about Apple TV, they’ll be shocked to find out that it’s not a TV at all. The same goes for PlayStation TV… it’s not a TV, nor is it a typical PlayStation console. Rather, this little black box has the guts of a PlayStation hand-held Vita.
PlayStation TV is essentially the equivalent of a modified 2000-series PS Vita. The black box has ports for a power lead, Ethernet, USB, and HDMI output. In addition, there’s a memory card slot and a semi-hidden slot for the PS Vita game card. PlayStation TV does not come with a controller, but it is compatible with DualShock 3 and DualShock 4.
PLAYSTATION TV – AWESOME FOR OLD SCHOOL GAMES
The initial reviews for PlayStation TV were mixed, but users thoroughly enjoyed the access to retro classics like Mega Man. PlayStation TV has the benefit of console games expanded to the size and scope of a TV screen. The biggest and most noticeable difference is the enhanced graphics. The vivid colors stand out more on PlayStation TV versus a typical console. Reviewers could not stop talking about how awesome Vita games like Child of Light and Rayman Origins appear on PlayStation TV.
Since its original launch, PlayStation TV did improve upon a 720p resolution for their video streaming, which is sadly still inferior to Apple TV’s streaming apps running on a sleeker and higher res 1080p.
Both kids and adults can lose time and play video games for hours on end without even realizing what time it is. PlayStation initially cornered the market in dominating their users’ attention spans. However, Apple TV has seized advantage of the recent phenomenon known as “binge watching.”
Netflix and other subscription services like Hulu created the perfect environment for binge watching, or the act of watching several hours of a TV show in one sitting. In many instances, a new fan will consume an entire season of a show in one long viewing session. Some viewers pride themselves on holding marathon sessions lasting over 24 hours. Apple developers were lucky that their Apple TV product fell in line with and facilitated this new trend in media consumption.
Apple TV was designed as a full-service entertainment centre that would replace a video store, radio station, and TV station. As more customers are cutting the cord from terrestrial cable TV, devices like Apple TV are becoming the focal point of home entertainment. With news and sports apps available like CNN and ESPN, turning on your Apple TV allows you to catch up on the latest score or breaking news.
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It seemed like the development of Apple TV had plateaued for a couple of years before the release of the 4th generation in October of 2015. With the recent news that Apple TV will become a full-fledged app platform, in some ways, your TV just became a gigantic iPhone complete with Siri voice recognition.
The entertainment content on Apple TV looks bright because Netflix spent over $6 billion to develop new content, including over a dozen new original series. Netflix even developed and produced a spinoff of the popular 1990s sitcom “Full House.” In addition, Netflix’s most popular series House of Cards just released its fourth season and production for season five is underway.
The overall future of portable gaming is bright although Sony’s PlayStation TV product will no longer be developed further. It appears that Sony is putting more emphasis on their virtual reality head set Project Morpheus for the present moment. However, PlayStation still an amazing compliment to the Vita hand-held gaming experience with a vast collection of games – both new and old school. And you never know, perhaps Sony will pick up on current trends and decide on a new generation of PlayStation TV after all, even if it’s under a new name. We believe in our favourite brand’s potential to knock the competition out.