Saturday, 4 December 2010

Sony Delivers a PS2 And HDTV In One

It appears that convergence between mainstream electronics and videogaming has finally come to fruition. Many years after Sega pioneered to have their Dreamcast on a chip system integrated into PACE Sky Digital TV boxes, Sony have taken the next step and integrated a Slim line PS2 into the constructs of a HDTV. The result is perhaps the potential beginnings for an eventual change console gaming as we know it.

Okay, so maybe that is a massive overstatement. Trying to fit in the lastest high-end, next-generation videogame system into a slim HDTV isn’t going to be possible. But with development costs rising, and savings through hardware process shrinks quickly becoming a thing of the past, maybe the time will come when next-generation doesn’t mean bleeding edge hardware in a separate box. Either way, Sony’s latest venture marks an intriguing testing ground for an altogether different future for out favourite pastime.

Costing just £199, the BRAVIA KDL-22PX300 is clearly built around mainstream bedroom gaming. With a 22” screen size it might be too small to replace the living room HDTV, but it does come with a rather complete feature set.

Not only does the TV have a built-in PS2 (contained within the units stand), along with one Dual Shock 2 controller included. It also features the Bravia Internet Video Access - used to view sites such as YouTube, Lovefilm and BBC’s much loved iPlayer. The PS2 means that the set has the ability to play both PS1 and PS2 games, plus DVD’s and music CDs, making it a real entertainment centre and TV in one.

The set doesn’t skimp on inputs either. Four HDMI ports are present, along with one VGA input, an RGB SCART socket, as well as component too. So you’ll be able to hook up all your other pieces of gaming hardware – or just hardware in general – up to it. There are also two optical outputs, a headphone jack, and three USB ports.

The TV apparently supports up to 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. The HD Ready 1080p badge means that the screen features a native 1920x1080 pixel display, and is capable of handling 1080p content without any overscan. Naturally, it de-interlaces and upscales all 480i/p and 576i/p content respectively. Whether or not it has decent processing is another matter. Usually, HDTV’s with such small screen sizes tend to get lower end processing tech, making SD signals and legacy console outputs look dire in general. But I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

One thing is for sure though, that this £199 foray into converging both videogames and mass consumable electronics is a clear sign of where gaming could be heading. That is, if the whole concept takes off. While we don’t expect to see the traditional, separate console ‘box under the TV’ disappear quite yet, convergence between the two mediums is now inevitable, with perhaps a TV plus gaming system catering to the lower-end market, whilst console market as we know it continues on for a few more generations.

Sony taking the first step with such a low priced, consumer friendly HDTV means that this could be the norm in a few years time. We already see HDTVs with web browsers and other multimedia functionality on the market, so having a range with a gaming system built in seems like the next logical step forward. Let’s hope that the move towards such things doesn’t stall ongoing development of traditional videogames hardware, and the high-end big budget experiences we now demand from developers across the globe.

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