These days, it isn’t an Internet-connected device if it doesn’t offer Netflix streaming.
As such, Sony has announced that a native Netflix app will be available on day one when its new Playstation Vita handheld launches in the US on February 22.
The announcement came at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Sony also boasted that Vita sales had eclipsed 500,000 units in Japan, the only territory to get the Vita in December.
Netflix streaming was first made possible through set-top boxes that connected directly to TV sets and allowed subscribers to watch the TV shows and movies that were previously restricted to their computer screen, in the comfort of their living room.
That functionality has quickly spread to other TV-connected devices like game consoles, to TVs themselves with built-in software and apps, and more recently to portable entertainment devices like tablets and smartphones.
The Vita will fit in nicely along the iPad, Kindle Fire, other Android tablets, and the 3DS.
It is hardly enough of a reason for someone to buy the $250+ gadget, though, and Sony has some hurdles to overcome. There have been crippling bugs in the early Japanese launch units, and Sony also faces questions about the viability of a dedicated handheld game device in a world of iPhones and tablets.
We spent some quality hands-on time with the Vita at a few events last year and found the collection of early titles a mixed bag, with Sony first-party studios already unleashing the power of the unique dual-stick and front-and-back touch panel controls. Some of the third-party titles, though, seemed clunky, though all of the titles we tested were in early development stages.
The Vita will make waves as the first dedicated game system to have built-in 3G support, and could be a bridge for Sony as it shifts focus to the mobile market. The company has been launching several games on the Android Market and recently bought out Ericsson to have complete control over the company currently known as Sony Ericsson.