Sony’s PlayStation Vita has arrived as the next generation handheld gaming device, but is it worth picking up? As a handheld portable gaming device, the PS Vita delivers a great gaming experience. It delivers plenty of graphical processing power to play console-like games on a compact mobile platform. The high resolution, OLED screen is beautiful to play on and it has controls similar to what you find on a PlayStation controller. In addition to it all, Sony has also added features we would come to expect in a mobile device today. Let’s take a look at what Sony is offering with the PS Vita.
5″ OLED Multi-Touch Display
Using an Organic Light-Emitting Diode, the PS Vita delivers amazingly, brilliant graphics with approximately 16 million colors and higher contrast ratios that normal LED screens. The 5″ screen has a resolution of 960 x 544 in a 16:9 format. The display is also a capacitve multi-touch display to allow additional control options.
To deliver the power it needs to play console-like games, it has a 4-core ARM® Cortex™ – A9 core processor and a 4-core SGX543MP4+ graphics processing unit.
3G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth
The PS Vita comes in two flavors, a Wi-Fi/3G version and a Wi-Fi only version. This allows for multi-player gaming, competitive leaderboard updates, and web browsing.
A 3G connection is handy so you can take your device on the go.
Along with the PS, power, and start button, the PS Vita comes with the standard dual analog sticks, a d-pad, four action buttons, and two shoulder buttons to control your games. The PS Vita also comes packed with 6-axis motion sensor system to allow for smooth tilt control and a rear multi-touch pad. The rear touch pad lets you control elements on the screen without blocking your view of the beautiful display and leaving behind fingerprints.
The size of the PS Vita is great for gaming and watching videos. The form factor of the PS Vita makes it comfortable to hold for long gaming or video watching sessions without your hands cramping up.
With compatible game titles, the PS Vita can allow you to start playing a game on your PS3, pause it, and continue on your PS Vita. Now you won’t have to wait to get back home to play, but you can the game with you instead. The PS Vita will also allow you to connect and join in multiplayer games against players on the PS3.
Digital Backward Compatibility
In addition to the couple dozen titles available at launch, the PS Vita will be compatible with over 250 digital PSP game titles. Just remember that you’ll need to have the memory to store them.
Front & Rear Cameras and Microphone
The front and rear cameras on the PS Vita give it the ability to support augmented reality experiences and the microphone allows for voice interactions and chat. Social apps available like Skype, will let you use the Vita for video phone calls.
The PS Vita will have apps available like NetFlix, Skype, FaceBook, and Twitter. Sony also has their own apps like Party (for voice and text chat), Near (to locate nearby gamers and friends), and Camera (to take pictures and videos).
GPS and Compass
The PS Vita comes with location services built in. The GPS, which is only available in the 3G model, will help with locating players nearby using social apps like Near. Since the Vita comes with Google Maps, you can also use it with the compass as a navigational device.
Proprietary Memory Card
Sony has done it again with making the memory cards for the PS Vita proprietary. Since the PS Vita does not include any on-board memory for storage, you’ll need to purchase their memory cards to store game saves and to hold any digital PSP titles you download from the PlayStation Store. Sony has four sizes available: 4GB, 8GB, 16GB, and 32GB.
Rear Touch Pad
Depending on how you hold your PS Vita during play, the rear touch pad can get in the way if it’s enabled for what you are playing. If you are not gripping the sides as designed, but holding it with your fingers spread, you can accidentally brush against the touchpad and cause unintentional actions to occur.
The battery in the Vita is built-in and you can play about 3-5 hours on a single charge, giving it roughly the same amount of playtime of a Nintendo 3DS with 3D effects on. Fully recharging the battery takes about 2hrs and 40mins. It would have been better if Sony gave us a removable battery so we could keep gaming on long trips.
3G DataConnect Plan
If you pick up the 3G enabled version of the PS Vita and wish to have the flexibility to play networked games on the go, you’ll need to invest in an AT&T DataConnect plan available in 250MB, 3GB, or 5GB monthly session. This can get costly, especially if you already pay for a data plan for your smartphone, which is seeing wider adoption these days. While some smartphones can become hotspots, this will drain battery power on both devices quickly and you’ll end up with two powerless devices.
Unlike the Nintendo 3DS, the size of the PS Vita is too large to fit into a normal pocket when you are on the go if you’re carrying anything else. It’s a great size for gaming with its large screen and comfortable control layout, but it also makes you want to ensure it’s protected with a case to avoid damaging the analog control sticks or scratching the screen.
Web Browsing / Maps
While the Vita has the ability to browse the Internet and access Google maps, it’s inferior to what is available on smartphones today. It doesn’t have Flash support, which isn’t bad, but its HTML5 support is limited. One of the greatest past times of viewing YouTube videos is unavailable though an app or via the web browser.
The most obvious issue is the price of the PS Vita to get to a state where you can really appreciate the system. The Wi-Fi only version is available at $249, while the 3G/Wi-Fi version is set at $299. This only covers the game system, the power cord, and power adaptor. As an incentive to get the 3G/Wi-Fi version, you can purchase the 3G/Wi-Fi launch bundle available at the same price until March 31, 2012. It comes with an 8GB memory card, 250MB AT&T DataConnect Pass plan promo, and a free PSN game.
Note that the 250MB promotion only starts after the expiration of your first session plan, so it’s more like buy a 250MB DataConnect Plan, and get one free.
The games for the PS Vita currently range from $30 to $50. If you hurry, GameStop has a Buy 2, get 1 free offer till tomorrow. After picking up at least two titles you’ve spent at least $60 to your start-up cost. Also you can purchase digital PSP titles on the PlayStation Store. However, you will need available memory to store them, which brings us to the next cost.
As mentioned before, Sony has proprietary memory cards to the PS Vita. The costs of the memory cards are 4GB ($20), 8GB ($30), 16GB ($60), and 32GB ($100). You’ll will most likely need to purchase multiple cards if you intend on storing a lot of videos and digital PSP games.
Now that you have spent so much on your PS Vita and games, you have to make sure to protect your investment. You’ll need a screen protector, case for the game system, and a case for your games/memory cards. Sony offers a start pack $40 dollars to give you all these essentials, along with a pair of headphones and a cleaning cloth.
The PS Vita is a great device if you really want to take a console-like gaming experience on the go. If that is your thing and you have the cash to burn, the PS Vita is for you. Personally, I would rather play those console games on a console in front of big screen. When I’m on the go, I don’t find myself playing games that require the large amount of attention that console games require. Mobile gaming for me tends to be more focused on games that can be easily consumed in bit-sized chunks. In my case, I just can’t justify dropping the $350 – $400 minimum to pick up a PS Vita when my smartphone can satisfy my gaming needs and perform the other extra features the Vita has to make it more than just a gaming device.