The Sony Playman rumors and the handheld that Sony and Microsoft would REALLY make
In the unfounded rumors department, the idea that Sony might be making a “Playman” to compete with the Nintendo Switch has been making the rounds, thanks to a nifty non-Sony product concept demo. The fact that there’s an older Sony patent – even though we know that patents often don’t lead to anything – for a Switch-like device, has of course added fuel to the fire.
Since both Sony (especially Sony) and Microsoft are doing just fine with their traditional consoles, and Nintendo finally has the hybrid thing all but nailed, there’s only one logical scenario, and it’s not going down the same path Sony recently did with their promising, but slow selling, Vita handheld (no reason to waste time recapping why). Instead, while I think it will indeed be about borrowing the Switch idea from Nintendo, it won’t be at least until we’re a few more years in that it might actually be practical (and affordable).
In short, once both Sony and Microsoft are able to cram the original model PS4 and Xbox One specs and capabilities, i.e., not the Pro, S, or Scorpio, into a Switch-like device, that’s when we may actually see something. That’s of course another plus to their respective strategies of iterating on the same base specification and requiring all future software to be compatible with the very first models of their hardware. It’s absolutely not out of the realm of possibility to have a 720p or 1080p PS4 or Xbox One gaming handheld, that, when docked, plays on a TV just like the original console. Both Sony and Microsoft have already taken miniaturization steps with both the PS4 Slim and Xbox One S, respectively, and, with a drop of the optical drives and reduction of onboard ports, could easily shrink further given the expected advancements in technological innovation.
So no, I don’t expect Sony (or Microsoft) to release any other devices to compete with the Switch. Each platform is succeeding relative to its market, and it makes no business sense to distract from that with something incompatible. Since a compatible PS4 or Xbox One Switch-like device isn’t possible with today’s technology, the only logical conclusion is we’re at best two to three years away. That’s probably around the same time we’ll get a “Switch Pro” from Nintendo, which would follow the same backwards compatible iterative update/upgrade path that Sony and Microsoft are already on with their respective consoles.