Sony box ready to challenge Apple, Google, MVPD units

Belying some beliefs that set-top boxes are going away and adding a bit of intrigue to the whole home entertainment center, consumer electronics giant Sony is on the verge of releasing a set-top PlayStation combo called Vita TV that would offer Web browsing and video streaming from all the usual content sources along with gaming capabilities from Sony's line of PlayStation (PS) products.

It's for certain that the Vita TV product will roll out in Japan; it's less certain that it will be marketed in the U.S., according to a story in TechHive.

Sony will launch the product in two bundles in Japan: as a standalone that goes for about $100, and as a bundled product with gaming capabilities for about $150.

While Hulu is partnering with Sony on the Japanese Vita TV launch, it's obvious that the company would need to offer more--Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX), YouTube and some other live streaming sites come immediately to mind--if it wants to attract anything more than gamers with an interest in video in the U.S.

While MVPDs in the States are probably looking at the product as yet another intrusion into their space--or another device with which they will eventually have to interface in a whole-home environment--the TechHive piece was more interested in how it would play up against the always-on-the-horizon Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) TV. For one thing, the Vita TV, at 2.56-by-3.94 inches is slightly smaller than its Apple rival; for another, it might have slightly more features, especially as it combines the gaming capability.

Another differentiator that was not called out in the story, but seems logical, is 4K capability. Sony has been pushing the next-generation Ultra HD format in TVs and other video devices and recently announced a 4K movie and TV service, so it would not be unreasonable to presume that the Vita TV will come with 4K capabilities packed in somewhere.

"Given how popular the set-top box market is right now, it's hard to believe Sony wouldn't eventually launch the PS Vita TV in the U.S.," the story concluded.

For more:
- TechHive carried this story

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