Sony hasn’t had a terribly large presence at Gamescom this year, certainly not at the level of Microsoft MSFT +0.3% which actually had a full-on stage show earlier in the week. But they have debuted one interesting new piece of tech for the PS4 which could almost work as a quasi-answer to Microsoft’s new Windows 10-to-Xbox One streaming functionality.
It’s a new mini-projector called the “MPCL1” which can hook up to your PS4 and project the video input onto any surface you like. You can use an HDMI hook up for the console, and it can also stream video over Wi-fi.
It’s incredibly small, only the size of about two cell phones glued together, and offers an alternative to play PS4 (or other media devices) when there’s no TV to be found.
The tech specs are well below the type of high-end projectors Sony is known for, but that’s expected with the size. The projection resolution is 1920×720 and can be broadcast onto a surface of up to 120 inches. The projector has a brightness rating of 32 lumens, which won’t mean much to non-projector enthusiasts, but for reference, Sony’s 2,000 lumen movie theater-quality projector costs $50,000. The MPCL1 is $350 instead.
That makes the peripheral roughly the cost of the console itself, given that these days most PS4s are sold in $400 bundles that come with a game. Pricey when viewed as a game peripheral, but relatively cheap in the grand scheme of the projector market.
I can certainly see the usefulness of this, and how it allows the PS4 to become a little bit more mobile like what we’re now seeing with Windows 10 Xbox One streaming. Granted, you’ll have to move the console itself around if you want to keep it hooked up to HDMI, but you can take it anywhere with a wall and a power outlet and you’ll have the ability to play the system.
I can even see this solving the “shared TV” problem that’s largely the point of Xbox One streaming. In this case, you could potentially angle the projector to an adjacent wall, pop in some headphones and play a game while someone else watches TV. That’s something even Xbox can’t offer with its new functionality.
Of course, the main difference here is price. Xbox One just got this new ability added thanks to a free Windows 10 update. In this case, Sony’s device costs nearly the same price as the console itself. It’s like how PS4 fans praise their ability to play their games on the Vita, but that of course, requires buying a Vita.
With that said, my recent experience with Xbox One streaming shows that Microsoft doesn’t exactly have a golden ticket when it comes to console gameplay mobility. Resolution on streamed games is relatively low. Definitely lower than 1920×720 much of the time. And input lag makes some titles very uncomfortable with a few outright unplayable. Sony and its projector wouldn’t have those same issue, so it might be worth the cost.
This will probably be a pretty niche product, given its functionality and cost, but it’s an interesting addition to the console’s arsenal all the same. Perhaps if the price is further lowered it could make a bigger impact, but for the tech involved, it’s relatively cheap already.
If you want your PS4 to be more mobile and can spare the cash, this mini-projector might be for you. It’s out sometime this October. Stay tuned.