Sony has surprised everyone with the announcement of a new PlayStation console which isn't the PlayStation 4: a tiny box dubbed the PlayStation Vita TV.

Apparently deciding that small, low-power home gaming consoles - like the Ouya, the Kickstarter record-smashing but ill-received device based on a low-end smartphone chip and a customised Android installation - have a real place in the market alongside the multi-hundreds-of-pounds high-end console it plans to launch later this year, the company announced the new device in Japan this morning.

Measuring just 6cm x 10cm - significantly smaller than the DualShock 3 controller with which it will be bundled - the console is designed to compete both with Android-based microconsoles and with the Apple TV, offering as it does both gaming and entertainment functionality.

First, the gaming features: the console lacks an optical drive, as you might imagine from its size, and is designed to play content purchased from the PlayStation Network (PSN) Store. This includes emulated games from the original PlayStation, games for the PlayStation Portable and even selected games from the company's latest hand-held console the PlayStation Vita - although not, we'd imagine, those that rely on the console's touch-screen or rear-facing touch control surface.

Those planning on picking up a PlayStation 4 in November will be interested to learn that the PS Vita TV can also be used as an extender: if your main TV is in use, you can fire up a PS4 game and stream it to the PS Vita TV over your home network.

The device is also set to include various entertainment functionality including access to video and music streaming services, eReader software and even a Twitter client for those who for some reason would rather post 140-character messages from their TV rather than a smartphone, tablet or PC.

Sony has confirmed plans to launch the PS Vita TV in Japan this November, possibly as an apology for the delay to getting the PS4 released in that country, priced at ¥9,480 console-only or ¥14,280 bundled with an 8GB memory card and DualShock 3 controller - around £61 and £92 respectively, excluding taxes. International availability has yet to be announced, but the company has provided the teaser video below to whet your appetite.


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