PlayStation maker Sony has laid down a challenge to rival Microsoft by introducing a TV streaming box that will allow users to play games on a TV that is not connected to a games console.

At the company's press conference on the opening day of the E3 video game convention in Los Angeles, the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment for North America, Shawn Layden, unveiled the new hardware.

Called PlayStation TV, the device will look to take on the entertainment centre that is part of the Xbox One's interface, as well as other streaming devices like the Apple TV and Google Chromecast that lets users stream content from other devices to their home TV.

The device will let users play games on a different TV as long as they have a controller to use with the box. It will also stream TV shows and movies.

Sony is looking to build on a successful start for their latest console, which had sold two million more units than the Xbox One as of May. While Microsoft chose to focus their own press conference earlier in the day solely on games, Sony dedicated plenty of time to their hardware, including devices like the Vita handheld console.

Andrew House, the CEO of the Sony Computer Group said: "We want you to share our vision for the future of gaming. PlayStation is the best place to play above all else. You are a member of an extensive community of rivals and friends."

In what looks like a direct challenge to services like Netflix, Sony also announced plans to create a host of their own produced TV shows that will be exclusive to the PlayStation TV. The first of these shows, a sci-fi crime drama called Powers, will appear at the end of the year.

Mr Layden also spoke about the platform's "commitment" to free-to-play games, promising "more than 25 over the next 12 months" for users to download for free.

In terms of games Sony also managed to draw several big cheers from the crowd with the titles they previewed. Xbox had set an impressive tone earlier in the day with a conference that included a string of new titles for their own next-generation console.

Among the games to receive the best reaction from the crowd included an extended look at the futuristic Destiny, which is seen by some as a challenger to the popular Halo franchise on Xbox.

The next Batman game, Arkham Knight, was also previewed, complete with an impressive light show and pyrotechnics.

A new gothic horror game called The Order - 1886 was also shown off, set in Victorian-era London. There was also confirmation of a fourth instalment of the popular Uncharted series.

Although both conferences drew plenty of cheers and enthusiasm from the crowd, experts leaving the hall following the Sony briefing felt that PlayStation had had the better first day.

Both companies will now set up booths for three days of the convention, where players can try out the new games for the first time.