The PS Vita is Sony’s latest venture into the hand held gaming market. The Vita was launched in Japan in December 2011, before hitting the US & EU markets in February 2012. Sony revealed that worldwide PlayStation Vita sales were standing at 1.8 million at the end of March 2012. Reports suggest, however, that Vita sales have slowed and units are not selling as well as hoped. Despite this news, it has been reported that Vita sales in Japan doubled with the introduction of the Crystal White Vita.
Basic Specifications & Accessories
The Vita is available in two models – Wifi only and Wifi and 3G. It features two quad-core processors, a 5-inch touch screen OLED display, dual analogue stick controls, a rear touch pad, front and rear 0.3MP cameras and a microphone.
Base prices at launch for the Vita are £229.99 for the Wifi only version and £259.99 for the Wifi and 3G version. However if you shop around you can usually get a Vita cheaper from the likes of Amazon & Shopto.net and usually as a bundle with a game and/or memory card.
It is worth noting that you HAVE to have a memory card with your Vita in order to save your game progress, there is no built in memory and as the memory cards are propriety you can’t just use any old memory card. You have to fork out for an official Sony memory card and they are quite expensive. It’s worth looking for a bundle which includes a memory card for this reason. Memory cards currently come as 4GB, 8GB and 16GB cards. I was lucky to get a free 8GB card with my bundle. If you are looking at downloading a lot of games it would be worth getting at a minimum an 8GB card. A 4GB card would probably only be suitable for those people planning to solely use the card for game saves and the odd PS Store download. The Uncharted Golden Abyss digital download, for example, comes in at nearly a whopping 3GB
Although the Vita is quite robust I recommend getting some kind of protective case. I personally went for the official Sony starter pack which includes a screen protector, a case for game/memory cards, a couple of micro fibre cloths, a leather case and a neoprene pouch. I personally didn’t like the screen protector on my Vita but the micro fibre cloths are a godsend for all those inevitable fingerprint smudges on the touch screen.
PS Vita isn’t just a games console. Apps available include Skype, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Flicker and Near. Near is a new application which lets you search for and share gaming information with other nearby players.
Some other basic apps are ‘Friends’ which lists your PS friends and ‘Party’ which is a cross-game chat system that lets you communicate with your friends and of course the app that lets you view your trophies. It is also worth noting that currently any trophies that you earn on your Vita will not show up on your PS3, although they do go towards your overall trophy count. So if, for example, you earn a platinum trophy on your Vita it will show up in your trophy count on your PS3, but it will not show for what game you earned it on.
If you are in North America you also get a Netflix (not that I’m jealous about that or anything…….).
There is also a web browser. It’s not the greatest but I prefer it to the mobile web browsers you can get. Another item of note is the fact that there is currently no support for Flash. This means there is no watching things like BBC iPlayer, YouTube or Netflix through the web browser.
You can of course watch films, listen to music and look at photos on your Vita in the most common video formats, notably in the following formats;
Music: MP3 MPEG-1/2 Audio Layer 3, MPEG-4 AAC, WAVE (Linear PCM)
Video: MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Hi/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC)
Photo: JPEG (Exif 2.2.1), TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG
Connecting wirelessly to an access point is extremely easy and the Vita automatically saves your wireless settings once you’ve connected. You can have multiple wireless access points saved on your Vita which is extremely handy for leeching off friends and families internet when you go visiting.
If you have a smart phone you can wirelessly tether your Vita to it and use your mobiles data allowance. If you are a BT customer with free wifi minutes you can log into your account using the web browser to connect to a hot spot. If you’ve got the 3G Vita (which if you have either of the former is a bit pointless), then you can connect via 3G. You’ll need a SIM and contract with either Vodafone (UK) or AT&T (US) in order to do that though.
The vita also boasts Bluetooth.
Remote play with the PS3 was used as a selling point for the Vita, but so far hasn’t been forthcoming. There is an extremely limited number of PS3 games that can be played remotely. In fact, only about a handful of them work. Only one of mine does (Peggle). Also disappointing is the fact that PS1 games don’t work on the Vita, although most of those actually can be played remotely. PS Minis can now be loaded and played on the PS Vita, as can many digital PSP games.
Battery life isn’t as great as I’d have liked. You can get about 4-5 hours of constant play on it. This is fine if you are near a power source but can be a bit of an issue when travelling. Unlike the PSP, the Vita battery is built in so there is no taking any spare batteries with you. You’ll either have to get a portable charger or hope for a nearby place to charge up. On standby however the Vita lasts for hours. I’ve quite often started a game during a break at work, needed to pause it, and then left it on standby until the evening. I’ve left it on standby overnight as well and the battery indicator hardly moved.
It takes approximately 2.5 hours to fully charge the Vita.
Now games are the staple diet of the Vita. Games look amazing on the Vita. It is much more comfortable to play for prolonged periods of time on the Vita compared to the PSP and the dual analogue sticks are a great addition (along with the touch screen of course). Wipeout looks amazing and is one of the games that has cross platform functionality, meaning you can play Wipeout on the Vita with those on PS3. The already mentioned Uncharted Golden Abyss is one of the most impressive Vita games that shows off the Vitas touch screen capabilities brilliantly. See a previous review here;
Another personal recommendation of mine is Plants verses Zombies. This game ports fantastically onto the Vita and is extremely addictive.
The PS Vita is one of the best, if not the best, portable gaming device out there today. It crams a lot of “stuff” into a small device with a relatively cheap price tag. Those of you that think it expensive just compare it to something like the iPhone 4S which costs £499.
If you like your games and gaming on the move then this is the device for you.
PS Vita Review,