While the electronic world is flowing with the dictum of 'small is beautiful', why shouldn't console gaming adhere to this crucial trend of portability? In this regard, Sony has finally unveiled their next generation of the hand held gaming console in the form of PlayStation Vita (released on February 22, in US). Following on the heels of Sony’s very own PSP and PSP Go mobile systems, the gaming experience is fascinatingly notched on every level by the latest Vita. In fact, many analysts already tout it as the most powerful hand held console ever created!
Things to consider
1. How well is it made?
Exhibiting the same 'rectangular with rounded corners' shape of the earlier released PlayStation Portable, the Vita is actually bigger in dimensions. This is because, the contraption is infused with an advanced 5-inch OLED multi-touch screen, with aspect ratio of 16:9 and resolution of 960 x 544 pixel. In fact, this screen's impressive ability to display a whopping 16.7 million different colors can be seen as one of the definitive commercial attractions of the console. However, even with such a boisterous multi-touch feature, the Vita actually weighs less (at 260g) than the previous PSP. This ergonomic advantage has much to do with the progressive nature of OLED, which doesn't require the back light, thus allowing for a sleeker bearing.
2. How good is the hardware?
Its is the magnificence of the power train that lets us take advantage of the fine details exhibited by the large OLED screen. Bolstered by a 32-bit quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor, along with an equally robust GPU of quad core PowerVR Series5XT SGXMP+ chip, the console can be seen as a bantam monster, when it comes to built-in circuitry. Enjoy music on a multi touch Apple ipod using premium padded headphones.Along with that, the contraption also features a rear touch pad, two cameras (a front and a rear), stereo speakers, microphone, Sixaxis motion sensing system and three-axis electronic compass. Even on the connectivity front, it has built-in GPS (only for the 3G version) as well as Wi-Fi, 3G, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support.
Obviously, the only attribute missing in this star studded line up is the 3D display. But, given the slew of features which are well complimented by its grandiose processing prowess, we can safely say that the Vita is most impressive hand held gaming device ever conceived.
3. How well will it function for you?
With its well laid out scope, the user interface is pretty simple to navigate. In fact, Sony has gone to great lengths so as not to be confused with other mobile OS's and their interfaces. Navigation is done by swiping up and down through pages of apps and games. Even quitting apps is a lot more fun, with the 'peeling off' option from the screen. However, their 'icons' are fashioned after circular jaunty shapes, which are in stark (yet funny) contrast with the robustly powerful mechanism of the device.
Other areas where user convenience is somewhat taken care of is the 'remote play' facility. This feature on paper would allow you to play PS3 games on the PS Vita over a network. However, when it boils down to practicality, only some titles are made available through the network, while others are not. In this regard, the Vita also has the core attribute of what it touts as 'Near'. This feature insinuates a sort of gaming/social networking ambit, where players and friends can virtually meet and share their gaming info. 'LiveArea' is also another one of those PS gaming fronts, where the user can know more about the newer and upcoming titles, and their development statuses as well.
4. Availability and pricing
The Vita had made its commercial debut in US on the 22nd of February. Its Wi-Fi only model comes at a price of around $249.99, while the 3G model is raised up to $299. However, Verizon (its 3G carrier in UK) touted its price to be around the range of £279 (about $440), but the cost was later dropped to £197 (or $310).
Moreover, to cater to a wider customer base, Sony has decided to employ the scope of region free gaming. This entails that foreign game titles can be played all over the world (wherever and whenever the Vita is released), without any restriction. The US sector in itself had around 25 launch titles, including the famous ones like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, BlazBlue, Hot Shots Golf and Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3.
5. Some areas where the device could have been better
Till now, we have harped about the positive aspects of the world's most powerful hand held console. However, as with all fallible electronic devices, the contraption does exhibit some disadvantages. The major one among them is the comparatively low battery life, which struggles to only 5 hours of wireless gameplay.
Another predicament from user's perspective is the complete lack of internal storage for Vita. In fact, you need to reach out to your wallet for purchasing an additional memory card specially built for the console (the smallest 4GB stick costs $20, while the 32GB stick costs around $100).
Finally, Sony has also initiated the 'segregated' Password program, which allows Japanese gamers to enjoy the older PSP games (at a greater discount) by inputting a UMD format code. However, this system will not be available in North America, thus forcing gamers to invest more money for their favorite old gaming titles from PSP.