A year after the launch of its PlayStation 4 games console, Sony has unleashed another box of tricks.

PlayStation TV is a curious little device, being both a sidekick for the PS4 and also a standalone mini-console.

Sony is showing impressive ambitious with the new gadget, and its surprisingly small smartphone-sized box that looks a bit like a baby PS4 undoubtedly has huge potential.

But never mind the future, it’s the present that matters. So is PS TV actually any good now and worth buying for Christmas?

After 10 days with it, here are my main thoughts.

Using PS TV as a games console

Sony’s new hardware can be plugged into any HD telly box and used to play PlayStation games without needing to own a PS4 or any other console.

That’s going to make it a very tempting option for many people, considering PS TV costs £85 and a new PS4 costs around £350.

However, there are a few buts to consider.

First of all you’re going to need a DualShock 3 or 4 controller, and one of those costs around £40.

Then PS TV only comes with 1GB of storage which is going to fill up very quickly as soon as you start using it. So you’re going to need a Sony memory card, which for 16GB will cost about £30.

Everything combined, you’re looking at an initial outlay of around £150 as a games console so it’s perhaps not such a great bargain after all.

Another thing to consider is the type of games available to play on PS TV. There are currently no recent big-name PS3/4 titles on there, so you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re looking for a cheap shortcut to playing the likes of Grand Theft Auto V, The Last of Us, Destiny or Fifa 15.

Instead, the games that can be played are all from the PlayStation Vita (Sony’s current excellent but badly underrated handheld device), the PSP (predecessor to the Vita) and the PS One (Sony’s classic first full-size console).

The new gadget shares many of its features with the Vita, including its homescreen, so the best way to view PS TV’s gaming capabilities is to think of it as a big-screen version of the portable device.

The Northern Echo:

Among the games that can be played on PS TV are some real gems, both recent and retro.

Gory shooter Hotline Miami, crazy aerial combat game Luftrausers, platformer Rogue Legacy, first-person shooter Borderlands 2 and indie puzzler Fez are among the top games. Oldies from the Grand Theft Auto, Metal Gear Solid and God of War back catalogues also make an appearance.

Three free games come with PS TV – puzzle-shooter hybrid Velocity Ultra, skateboarding game OlliOlli and artillery strategy game Worms Revolution Extreme. All of them are decent, although Velocity is the pick of the bunch at least on a big screen.

There is a bit of a bumpy ride when previously handheld games are scaled up for the big screen and the graphical results aren’t always perfect. If you overlook this then among the hundreds of titles that can be downloaded from the PlayStation Store there are many superb gaming experiences to be enjoyed for the first time or relived.

Many of the games only cost a few pounds and offer tremendous value for money. Some, however, are ridiculously over-priced – a problem which blights the PS Store too often. Fifa 13 and Need for Speed: Most Wanted, for example, both still cost £40 despite being more than two years old.

One way to avoid falling victim to the PS Store’s bonkers pricing scheme is to pick up cheap secondhand Vita games in retail stores or online and then insert the tiny cartridges into PS TV. You’ll need to be careful though as not all Vita games are compatible. In most cases this seems to be down to the Vita’s touch and camera functions not translating across well enough.

Another thing which offsets the cost of games in Sony’s digital store is PlayStation Plus. This subscription service provides members with some decent discounts and free titles each month – I wasn’t previously a fan but have come round to seeing its value in recent months.

The Northern Echo:

Although there is plenty of fun to be had by plugging PS TV in, it is also very limited as a standalone games console. With the overall cost including those couple of hidden extras taken into account, a pre-owned PS3 unit is worth looking at as possibly a better value alternative for now.

PS TV shouldn’t be written off as a games console though. I mentioned earlier that it has huge potential, and most of that promise comes from PlayStation Now.

This new rental service, hopefully coming to the UK next year, will allow users to stream PS3 games to compatible devices. PS2 and PS4 games could be added to it later.

Assuming it works well, this could massively increase PS TV’s appeal as a separate games device.

Its stock will rise higher still once Sony adds some media services to it. PS TV is very limited in that regard too at the moment, with the PlayStation Store being the only place to access movies and TV.

There are no Netflix, Amazon, Now TV etc – some of these being included on PS TV, along with PlayStation Now, will really make it a very attractive entertainment platform.

Using PS TV for remote play

So PS TV’s abilities as a micro-console as somewhat stunted at launch but what about its other role as a companion to the PS4? Here it fares much better and goes a long way towards solving a problem which plagues many gamers.

Previously, remote play was possible between a PS4 and a Vita, meaning games on the main console could be streamed to the handheld’s smaller screen and continued while someone else made use of the primary TV.

It provided a solution of sorts to the perennial battle between family members over control of the living room TV.

PS TV expands on this by allowing streaming from a PS4 to a second TV screen instead.

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Now when the gamer of the household loses the nightly squabble over TV time, they needn’t be subjected to TOWIE, X factor or whatever drivel is on.

Instead, so long as the PS4 is on, they can take the PS TV box into another room of the house and plug it into a secondary telly. When it comes on they just click the ‘PS4 link’ icon and, within a minute or two, PS TV will connect with the console and display the PS4 homescreen. Then the second TV can be used for PS4 gaming, the only inconvenience being the need to pop back to the living room to replace the disc in the PS4 when the player wants to switch from being an assassin to a gangster or superstar footballer.

Setting PS TV up for remote play is quick and easy – HDMI cable in the second TV, USB cable for the controller and then plug in at the socket. From switching on the PS4 in the living room, or pausing a game in progress, you can be playing in another room within just a few minutes.

I was warned by Sony beforehand, and again in the literature that came with the device, that a wired connection between PS TV, router and PS4 is recommended to get the best out of the remote play feature.

I can back this up and say optimum results are achieved when everything is hardwired, with remote play running very smoothly.

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However, I’ve only tested it with a wired connection quite briefly because, like a lot of people will feel, I don’t want ethernet cables snaking through my home from room to room nor do I want the extra complication and cost of installing adapters to boost my home network.

So, most of my time with PS TV has been spent testing it wirelessly.

Perhaps I’m more easily pleased than some, or luckier, but with my BT Infinity router in the next room to where I’ve been trialling PS TV the results have been very good.

Games’ performance takes a small but noticeable hit but not enough to cause any problems. They run perhaps slightly slower but Fifa 15, among other games, has still been plenty playable and responsive. I’ve been able to compete against computer opponents without any hitches.

Using remote play on a second screen also slightly affects visual quality as it’s not full HD, but for most people this won’t be a huge issue. The dip in resolution is less noticeable on smaller screens.

The Northern Echo:

Although I’ve got on well with wireless remote play, it’s not guaranteed for everyone so you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a good strong reliable wi-fi signal which stretches throughout your house before buying PS TV.

Sony’s new gadget provides better value when viewed as an add-on for remote play rather than as a mini-console used separately. Existing PS4 owners won’t need to fork out for a controller and won’t necessarily need a memory card, so £85 is all they’ll pay. This doesn’t seem too bad for being able to game in any room of the house.

Unfortunately, even in remote play the on-demand media services that can be installed on PS4 will still not work. This really hampers its usefulness and may put off some people who are tempted by being able to play games on a second TV but don’t feel it’s a big enough draw on its own without being able to stream Netflix, Amazon and so on.

Final verdict

If you buy PS TV as a games device you’re going to have to play a patient long game before you really start to see the benefits of your purchase. And if you’re thinking about it as a media player you’re better off looking elsewhere because it’s not much cop – at least for now.

But if you’re a PS4 owner it’s much easier to recommend PS TV as a right-now buy rather than one for the future. The remote play function works satisfactorily, albeit not completely seamlessly, meaning a good playing experiences can be had away from the main TV and as a bonus that dust-gathering telly in the bedroom suddenly gets a new use.