One of the least well-known but best features included in the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One is the ability to stream games to specific devices, untethering Sony and Microsoft’s machines from the television and essentially transforming them into in-home mobile consoles.
While this feature likely won’t appeal to everyone, those with families or loved ones who frequently plant themselves in front of the television for seven hour Netflix binges while Fallout 4’s Wasteland beckons them, will find in-home streaming useful and possibly even life changing.
In-home streaming is also great for those who prefer to play games on a smaller screen (I count myself among this group). It’s important to note that a reliable and strong Wi-Fi signal is necessary for streaming to perform well. If there are Wi-Fi dead spots in your home or areas where the signal isn’t strong, you’ll likely have problems streaming to these locations.
As a side note, while it is not discussed in this story, various Wii U games allow the player to game directly from the Wii U’s GamePad, giving Nintendo’s console limited in-home mobility (you need a direct line of sight with the system for it to work though). So, no, you probably wont be able to play Super Mario Maker in the bathroom.
Play the Xbox One anywhere in your house with Windows 10 streaming
Getting the Xbox One to stream to any Windows 10 PC is surprisingly simple. All the process requires is an Xbox One, Windows 10 computer (I did most of my streaming to the Surface Pro 4) and Microsoft’s official Windows 10 Xbox app.
In my case, the Xbox One needed to occasionally be turned on manually before connecting to the Surface Pro 4.
Once the Xbox app has been launched on the PC, plug a Micro-USB cable into the Xbox One’s controller and attach the other end to the Windows 10 device’s USB port. The controller can also be hooked up wirelessly with the help of an additional $29 wireless dongle, although I found running a cord from my computer to the Xbox controller accomplishes the same goal and is much simpler. Almost everyone probably has a few USB cables laying around.
I’ve played multiple games over the last few weeks – Fallout 4, mainly – and experienced few latency related hiccups when streaming from the Xbox One in my living room, all the way to my Surface Pro 4 located in my bedroom (even when streaming in high quality). While I didn’t finish in first place, I even had some success playing Halo 5’s multiplayer mode through Windows 10, although streaming is more ideal for single player gaming experiences that don’t require low latency.
While there is a slight delay between controller input and in-game actions, this problem is far less noticeable than the issues present with PlayStation 4 Remote Play. Furthermore, the video artifacting PlayStation 4 to PlayStation Vita streaming frequently suffers from (the downgrading of quality to support slower internet speeds) isn’t as apparent when streaming the Xbox One over my home internet connection. During my roughly 10 hours with Fallout 4, I rarely experienced situations where the game dropped frames or lost connection.
The overall picture looks crisp and clear, although there is a slight drop in quality if streaming to a Windows 10 PC compared to using the Xbox One directly through a television.
PlayStation 4 Remote Play works but has problems
PlayStation 4 Remote Play works great with some games, but suffers from problems with certain titles. Games like Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition and Rocket League include control schemes specifically adapted for the PlayStation Vita’s back touch panel, giving players access to R1 and R2 buttons. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case with every title, which makes playing some games a frustrating experience when using Remote Play.
It would be great if the PlayStation Vita offered a way to use the PlayStation 4 controller with Remote Play but this unfortunately isn’t an option right now. However, there are rumours that Windows 10 to PlayStation 4 streaming is in the works and an unauthorized homebrew app has already figured out a way to make this work with some degree of success.
Setting up Remote Play is a simple process that involves opening the Vita’s Remote Play app, detecting the PlayStation 4 on your home network, and then connecting to the console. In most cases the PlayStation Vita will connect to the PlayStation 4 automatically in just a few seconds once the app has launched, but this process can sometimes take up to a minute.
The most significant concern with PlayStation 4 to PlayStation Vita Remote Play is latency. While Windows 10 streaming adequately adapts to varied WiFi signal strengths and network environments, Sony’s Remote Play struggles to maintain a solid connection. Over the course of numerous PS4 games to the PlayStation Vita streams, I’ve run into dropped frames, lag, and in some cases have been disconnected from the console. These problems have occurred almost every time I use Remote Play and the issues persist even when sitting just a few metres away from the PlayStation 4.
While screen size is obviously a significant issue, in-home streaming is also available with most Sony Xperia smartphones. This method of Remote Play allows the player to wirelessly use the PlayStation 4’s controller with the Xperia Z5, for instance, which theoretically should result in a better experience. Unfortunately this is not the case.
Similar to other in-home streaming methods, the setup process is simple. The PlayStation 4 Remote Play Android app must first be downloaded from the Google Play Store and then the phone needs to be connected to the console. I ran into difficulties with this process and needed to do a manual connection, retrieving the code first from my console and then inputting it into the Xperia Z5’s Remote Play app.
Unfortunately, using the Xperia Z5 for remote play streaming results in further latency and network related issues than what I experienced when streaming with the PlayStation Vita. Moving more than a few metres away from the PlayStation 4 resulted in a significant amount of lag and, eventually, a completely dropped connection.
Xperia streaming also supports on-screen buttons, although, similar to most Nintendo 64 and PSOne Android emulators, it’s nearly impossible to play any PlayStation 4 title using this control method. There are too many on-screen controls and playing a game that has not been designed with touchscreen controls in mind, especially titles as advanced as those on the PlayStation 4, is not an enjoyable experience.
On the plus side, thanks to some router port trickery, it’s actually possible to use the Vita to access the PlayStation 4 from any location you have an internet connection, even when not at home. Although latency becomes a problem making most games unplayable.
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