Gamers gain a more robust mobile console experience with the PlayStation Vita versions using Wi-Fi/3G or Wi-Fi only online capabilities plus a rear touchpad, two analog sticks and a sharp OLED display.
Sony’s PlayStation Vita, previously codenamed “Next Generation Portable”, is the successor to the PlayStation Portable hardware series. Vita retains the familiar general form of the PlayStation Portable hardware series while dramatically improving on virtually every aspect of its use with powerful and exciting new features. Taken together this makes for a handheld gaming device that truly signals the entry of handhelds into the world of Next-Gen gaming.
- Revolutionary gaming experiences with dual analog sticks, front and rear cameras, front multi-touch display, multi-touch rear pad, GPS and new unit specific media flash-based storage
- Stunning multi-touch 5-inch organic light emitting display (OLED)
- The richest, deepest and most engaging handheld gaming lineup – including Nathan Drake’s epic adventure in Uncharted Golden Abyss, Rayman Origins, and Lumines: Electronic Symphony.
- Network connectivity via improved Wi-Fi capabilities (Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity avaialable in an additional Vita model)
- Location based gaming allowing players to find and meet friends virtually for brand new experiences
Sony’s handheld game console named the PlayStation® Vita (“life” in Italian) debuted in the U.S. on February 22 and currently offers two versions:
The Wi-Fi only version ($249) works online with Wi-Fi hotspots accessed free in public places or home connections.
The Wi-Fi and 3G version ($299) uses signals for online functions (similar to a cell phone), so users can get it anywhere they get service, which is exclusively available from AT&T.
The realistic price points reflect the past (PSPGo launched at $249.99) while offering a better gaming experience for a lesser price for most mobile phones. I got the Wi-Fi only version, which includes a charger/USB cable, the handheld console, and helpful manuals. Both versions use PlayStation Vita cards, have media storage card capability range for 4 GB to 32 GB, allow one account and are not currently backwards compatible with the PSP UMD discs or PS One Classic games. Backwards compatible media includes PlayStation Store items, PSP downloadable titles, PS minis, and PS Suite games.
The console size is bigger than the Sony handheld console, the PlayStation Portable, which reflects the impressive concentration on the display and sharp graphics. PS Vita colors are only currently available in black (a white colored version will release in Japan on June 28, 2012) and have a nice glossy finish. The rounded edges enhance the design benefits and designers place important functions/buttons in well-conceived spots (e.g. volume control on console top right near the fingertips).
The 3G/Wi-Fi version weights approximately 9.8 ounces while the Wi-Fi only version weighs 9.2 ounces while both include 512 MB of system RAM and 128 MB of VRAM, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR connectivity, LiveArea software, a four-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor and a four-core SGX543MP4+ graphics processing unit.
With a bigger screen the PS Vita makes some room with smaller buttons. The standard overall Sony button layout remains with the familiar shoulder buttons, directional buttons, colored action buttons, start button, and select button while the power button is on the top left edge and volume buttons on the top right edge.
Ports include the standard PS Vita card slot, memory card slot, and headset jack plus ones for accessory, SIM card (3G/Wi-Fi model only), and a multi-use.
I thought about charging it, but had power immediately so I began the touch based navigation/interface to set everything up in under 15 minutes.
Users can customize the layout and icons easily by sliding through pages, pinching/spreading to zoom in/out, and typing without a stylus pen using an on-screen keyboard.
Set up a PlayStation Network account to create a friends list and keep track of your trophies (still allowing for only one user), which count towards overall totals accumulated on the PlayStation 3 as well.
Handheld console “firsts” on the PlayStation Vita include a pair of joysticks, rear touchpad for game interactions, and an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display.
The dual-analog sticks are ideal for first person shooter games and any other game genre where game character movements are essential. For PSP games, use the right PS Vita stick for the directional pad and the left PS Vita stick for the PSP stick.
The rear touchpad should provide extra challenges for game developers while helping enhance player experiences (e.g. making music, keeping rhythm, changing land terrain, etc.). Users can easily fit all ten fingers on the rear touchpad, which also provides a more even support system for holding the PS Vita (the rounded edges also help).
The sharp, high resolution display (960 x 540 with a 220 ppi density) features 24-bit color and a five-inch screen that emits a brighter picture with high contrast. Picture file support exists for Jpeg, tiff, bmp, gif, png files.
No video-out capability here with video file support for two – MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC) and H.264/MPEG-4 AVC High/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC).
The non-removable, built-in lithium-ion battery (DC3.7V 2200mA) life usually lasts approximately 4 to 5 hours and longer when only using the PS Vita to listen to music. Battery recharges only take about 2 and ½ hours.
The controls utilize combinations of straight forward touchscreen interfaces and six-axis motion sensor system with three-axis gyroscope and three-axis accelerometer, which adds more movement capabilities. A three-axis electronic compass is included in the WiFi/3G version.
Two 0.3 megapixel cameras (front and back) allow players to take pictures at a 640 x 480 (VGA) resolution at 78 FPS and engage in augmented reality experiences while providing capabilities for face detection, head detection, and head tracking.
The console sound options include stereo speakers and a microphone. Mps, aac, and wav are the supported audio files.
Other features include a built-in GPS receiver on the WiFi/3G version while both versions feature a maps application and, like the Nintendo 3DS (LINK), include AR (augmented reality) cards. Web-based applications including Netflix, Facebook, web browser, Twitter, Flickr, Skype, and Foursquare with capabilities for many more.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com and other stores
Price: $249 for Wi-Fi only version / $299 for Wi-Fi and 3G version
What I Like: Mobile advantages, link capabilities with PS3 (hardware and actual games (three currently)), strong graphics, large display
What Needs Improvement: longer battery life, limited video playback capabilities, no video out option, limited backwards compatibility for games/media