Sony has just announced PlayStation Vita TV, a 6cm x 10cm console and set-top box that connects to a TV. It's based on PS Vita hardware, and besides playing Vita, PSP, and PSone games, also offers access to a range of entertainment services and PlayStation 4 cross-functionality. It will cost 9,480 yen, or around $95 excluding sales tax, and is out in Japan on November 14th. A separate bundle, including a DualShock 3 controller and 8GB memory card, will sell for ¥14,280 (around $143).

Not all Vita games will be supported

The PS Vita TV supports Japan-specific video services such as Hulu, Tsutaya TV, and Nico Nico Douga as well as Sony's own Video Unlimited, and also includes Vita-style apps such as the LiveTweet Twitter client and Reader ebook software. The tiny box can be used as an extender for PlayStation 4 games, letting you play them on another TV screen if the one connected to the PS4 is occupied, and will also act as a second Vita system to enable ad-hoc multiplayer gaming with the portable console. Not all PS Vita games will be supported, however, since the DualShock 3 controller lacks the Vita's touch-sensitive hardware required by certain software titles.

Although Sony announced earlier today that the PlayStation 4 would come to Japan months later than the rest of the world, the PS Vita TV looks like a good bet for the region. With the Japanese market dominated by handhelds such as the PSP and 3DS in recent years, Sony's best play for local living rooms may well be to go small. The company has yet to announce release plans for the rest of the world.

An unexpected lease on life for the Vita

The PS Vita TV matches the Apple TV on price while offering a far more robust gaming proposition. Apple is rumored to be planning significant software enhancements for its set-top box that could possibly come at Tuesday's press event, but these are so far not expected to involve gaming. If Sony can offer a similar content lineup for the PS Vita TV in the West — the initial announcement is focused on Japan, which exists in an entirely different media landscape — Apple may have a serious new competitor on its hands. And if nothing else, it's an unexpected lease on life for the PS Vita handheld, which has struggled to gain traction in the marketplace.