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Sony PlayStation Vita (Latest Model)- Black Handheld System (Wi-Fi)

Sony PlayStation Vita (Latest Model)- Black Handheld System (Wi-Fi)

Powered by high performance ARM Cortex-A9 core (4 core) CPU, the Sony PlayStation Vita offers stunning graphics. For rich visuals, this... Read More
Powered by high performance ARM Cortex-A9 core (4 core) CPU, the Sony PlayStation Vita offers stunning graphics. For rich visuals, this video game console features an OLED screen. This Sony Wi-Fi handheld system easily connects to the Internet and seamlessly accesses content. The social gaming feature of this video game console allows you to invite friends for a game. Enhance your gaming experience with the built-in cameras and GPS of this Sony Wi-Fi handheld system that give you a realistic and location-based experience. The Sony PlayStation Vita supports the PlayStation network, easily connecting to the PS3 to give you a rich playing experience. Minimize
Author's Rating: Rating: 3/5 stars
141 Reviews from Epinions.com

By:   kjell1979
Apr 15, 2012
Sony PlayStation Vita (Latest Model)- Black Handheld System (Wi-Fi)

Playstation Vita: If Vita is life, then pull the plug now

Author's Rating: Rating: 3/5 stars

Pros: Rich feature set, good price, great screen, dual analog sticks

Cons: expensive games, questionable future, weak gaming library, mandatory memory cards

The Bottom Line: 
The Vita has all the potential in the world. I remain skeptical that it will live up to it.

Author's Review
The original PSP was supposed to bring portable gaming to the masses. It was supposed to finally drive Nintendo into software for good like it did with Sega 10 years ago. But something happened with the PSP. Sure the hardware was vastly superior to the Nintendo DS. Sure it had a rich feature set that could compete with the pre-touch iPod. But something didn't click. The games all seemed like ports of old and worn PS2 titles. There was only one analog stick which meant shooters were really clunky. You had to buy expensive memory cards. But for me, there was never really that one title that I just had to run out and buy a PSP just to have. With the Nintendo DS, I could find dozens of unique titles to spend hours playing. Nintendo was a runaway train in the last portable game system generation and not even the PSP could stand in its way. In the end, the Nintendo DS might have been its greatest handheld yet.

But now with the 3DS just barely treading water, the Vita seems poised to strike. However there's a problem. Apple is in a much better position. The iPhone and iPod Touch have a stranglehold on both the adult and kid portable gaming arena. Both Nintendo and Sony are reeling. So can the Vita save Sony's sinking ship?


Features and Design

The Vita has some of the richest feature set I have ever seen in a video game system. There are two Vita models. The base model which I have costs $250 but the $300 model features 3G online connectivity via AT&T as well as a GPS. Fifty dollars isn't much to pay for this functionality because it often costs double if not more on other devices for a comparable feature set. However, you will also have to pay extra money for the 3G service from AT&T, and as a customer of AT&T they leave a lot to be desired and there are some puzzling dead spots. I was happy with the $250 model's wifi (802.11 b/g/n) and Bluetooth connectivity. Still, a price tag of $250 is comparable to the PSP units but the Vita as far as its feature set goes is much richer. This is a true modern portable gaming device and it shows.

The Vita features a Sixaxis gyroscopic controller as part of the unit. So like the PS3 Sixaxis the orientation of the Vita can affect games. This is something that really hasn't been taken advantage of much on the PS3 so I kind of expect this to continue with the Vita. The Sixaxis technology seemed to be a half-hearted attempt to compete with the Wii's motion controls when the PS3 console came out 5 years ago. In the end the feature was grossly under supported especially in 3rd party circles so do not expect much here.

More on the controller, it features the classic four face buttons (X, Square, Triangle, Circle), a Playstation button on the left bottom, a start and select buttons on the right bottom. It has the classic uncomfortable dpad on the left as well as dual analog sticks. These analog sticks are much like the analog nub on the PSP, but the dual analog sticks are a welcome change because it makes action games and especially shooters more usable. Unlike the PS3 controller (more on this later) there are only single shoulder buttons (L/R) instead of dual ones. From a comfort standpoint, if you're using a single analog stick, it feels comfortable. I really hate the dpad because it doesn't feel comfortable on your fingers, but this has been a problem going all the way back to the days of the NES. When using the dual analog sticks, it takes a little bit of getting used to. I found my hand cramping quite a bit but I'm an adult with average size hands. Mixing the standard controls with the touch screen can be kind of wonky at times, especially because your instict is to use your thumb which is very imprecise. Overall the Vita gives you a lot of buttons and controls which is welcome, but overall it might not be enough.

Now we can say that all modern portable gaming devices feature touch screens as the Vita features one itself. It's a multi-touch screen like the one on the iPhone and iPad allowing you to use more than one finger to manipulate objects, zoom in and out, etc. The screen itself is much more like the iDevice screens (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad) in that it's heat sensitive. Thus you won't be using a stylus with it. The screen also doesn't have the same amount of flexibility like the DS or 3DS screens have. The sensitivity is also about the same as the iPhone as well. Using a screen protector will help preserve the screen but can affect the gameplay as the screen sensitivity decreases especially if you have cold fingers. Still, it's clear that the Vita brought an Apple-quality touch screen to the Vita which should help the Playstation Network games market attract iOS and Android game ports.

The feature set of the Vita also includes a rear touch pad. This is an interesting concept because the touch screen doesn't have a video screen because it's on the back, but it lends itself to some interesting control quirks and could produce some fun Vita-exclusive games. I can think of some control features such as simulating a trigger pull by swiping the back touch pad. Ultimately, I get the feeling that this will be largely ignored by third party games.

The Vita also has an interesting feature called cross play. This allows you to play certain Playstation 3 games on your Vita, even allowing you to pick up where you left off on your Vita as well. This also extends to multiplayer where you can have a mix Vita and PS3 owners playing a game competitively online. This is a really neat concept because it helps to inflate the number of people playing a game online. However, this concept is flawed. First, there are only a few PS3 games where this is possible: Hustle Kings, Motorstorm RC, Top Darts, and Wipeout HD. I want to be able to play Mass Effect 3, Skyrim, Bulletstorm, and a bunch of other games I'm trying to finish on the go. But I realize why this isn't possible either. This is because the button mappings aren't exact. The Vita lacks the dual shoulder buttons (L2/R2) which would make it possible to map a plethora of PS3 games to the Vita. So in the end I don't expect this games list to grow all that much and I also expect some games to be harder to control on the Vita as compared to their PS3 counterpart because of the lack of buttons. Or maybe it can do something to simulate L2 and R2 with the rear touch pad?

Finally, the Vita features front and rear cameras with 0.3 megapixels of resolution. Given the marketplace options this can be great for gaming but also if you want to use Skype or some other video conferencing feature. The resolution isn't going to yield a lot of detailed pictures, instead it's optimized for internet transport. I'm not much of a pretty face so I didn't dwell on this feature too much but it stands to reason that you should be careful when putting this in the hands of your kids and teenagers. I can definitely see a sexting scandal involving one of these devices because it's so gaming centric. Good thing Jack Thompson has been disbarred.


Hardware Specs

Here are the technical specifications for the Vita:

4 Core ARM CPU
512 MB RAM
128 MB Video RAM
5 inch OLED touch screen
supports multi-touch
960x544 resolution
32-bit color

The hardware runs really smooth. The Vita was created to play PS3 quality games in a portable way. There is definitely room for games to grow. The only concern is that Apple releases new hardware every year, but backwards compatibility is always high. With Nintendo and now Sony, hardware changes are once every 5 years or so and backwards compatibility is more of a token feature. Given that the current console generation (PS3/Xbox 360/Wii) is getting close to its conclusion the Vita's hardware will definitely allow for current console game ideas left to migrate to this platform more seamlessly than trying to port to iOS or the underpowered 3DS.


Gaming Library

The Vita's gaming library doesn't have a lot to show for itself. There are a few classic Playstation titles such as Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hotshots Golf: World Invitational, and MotorStorm RC. There are iterations for the Lumines series, Rayman series, as well as various sports games. There are also some games you'd see on the Android or Apple store as well like Dungeon Hunter and Plants vs. Zombies. The problem is that there are not any games that really stand out as must-haves. While this is very subjective, the critics seem to agree as there are few games which are critically acclaimed. While it's still early only Rayman Origins and Gravity rush cracked the 85% barrier on Gamerankings.com. This does not bode well for the future of the Vita when it relates to the gaming library.

When it comes to genre coverage, again it's still early to tell but action games and shooters could definitely thrive on this platform. The dual touch screens and dual analog sticks could inspire some great games in this system. The PSP was a haven for sports games and it stands to reason that they'll get even better if only because the iOS and DS never really could get a strong foothold in this genre. The Vita also could produce some strong titles to compete with the 3DS and iOS when it comes to Japanese RPGs too. The PSP has some interesting titles on that front but there were too many re-released and respun titles to make it sufficiently disappointing and certainly not a slam-dunk for the Vita. Casual gaming is the one genre I think Sony is trying to compete with Apple for but they'll likely fail. This is because the pricing on the AppStore is way too competitive. In that sense I'd rather get an iPod Touch or iPad.

Speaking of prices physical game discs cost between $35 and $40 but usually the higher price carries the day. The DLC games are cheaper but they still are much higher than in the AppStore. So if you only play a few games then this might not be as bad, but if you like to play dozens or even hundreds of games before you retire your gaming system then the prices add up quickly.

The Vita did make one good choice regarding its library to include backwards compatibility with PSP's downloadable games. The Vita doesn't have a UMD drive instead the physical games appear in the form of flash cards similar to the DS. Still, the gaming library on the PSP is very mundane and while some games might be much more interesting with dual analog sticks and dual touch screens, it's doubtful that they'll be updated to allow for the newer control schemes.

Overall the genre coverage looks strong, but in the end I'm worried that this game system could fail to attract some truly great games. Looking at the games that are out now for the Vita and what's on the horizon there really isn't anything which really gets me excited. Instead, I'd rather just stay on the console and play games on my iPhone or iPad. This is important because the games are what ultimately sell a video game system. There are a few exceptions like the Wii, but not being able to attract a strong set of games can doom a video game system and it's the reason why the PSP could never overtake the DS in the previous portable gaming generation.


Accessories

The Vita has the standard set of accessories from cases to screen wipes to AC car adapters. The case is definitely recommended because of the touch screen and rear touch pad which you don't want scratched. There isn't much to mention regarding the Vita's accessories with the notable exception of the memory card. Memory cards are required with the Vita. I found this puzzling and disappointing. I would have thought there should be enough flash memory available such that you wouldn't need to purchase memory cards, but with the Vita you do. The Vita memory cards' storage starts at 4GB and goes as high as 32GB. This is a huge flaw in the rollout of this system. Apple and Nintendo do not require the purchase of additional accessories just to store data and the proprietary memory cards mean the price will stay high for a long time. I thought required memory cards were gone for good after the PSP, but Sony just couldn't help themselves to the money grab. This model will fail them because yeah you pay $50-$100 extra for an iPod Touch but you make that up because the games are cheaper and you don't need to buy memory cards just to play games. I'm sorry Sony, you just don't get it.


Conclusion

With as many positives that the Playstation Vita brings to the table, I am not convinced that this game system will be a huge flop. The first reason is the PSP did not live up to expectations. It had a hardware advantage over the Nintendo DS, but it could never deliver the unique games that the DS brought to the market. Instead you saw remakes of older games like Persona and lighter versions of popular games like Grand Theft Auto. Ultimately when it came down to it, there wasn't a game that was only available for the PSP that you had to have. I'm afraid the same will hold true for the Vita.

Another reason why I'm skeptical that this system will take off is that there really isn't a solid target audience. If I was a parent, I prefer to go with a Nintendo DS because they're cheaper and have more games for kids. For myself, my iPhone has all the games I want and I assume Android users feel the same way. So if you're a teen or someone in college, do you spend $250 for a Vita or an iPod Touch? For this current generation, I think that question is not going to work out in favor of the Vita. If I'm a big gamer, I will instead stick with my Playstation 3 or Xbox 360 consoles. For double the price I can pick up an iPad.

This ultimately all comes down to games. If the Vita can attract some truly killer exclusive titles, then this console will sell. The Nintendo Wii was the oddball in that it could move consoles on its revolutionary motion control alone with gaming library full of shovelware, but Sony cannot count on that here. As always with game systems I recommend taking a wait and see attitude regarding the gaming library. However, if you want to stream your PS3 games to your Vita, or if there's a launch game you really want to play, then this might be a more immediate purchase. While I don't see the Vita as being as lackluster as the PSP Go, I think it might struggle to reach the sales that the older PSP hardware models achieved because of its reputation. Apple is a big threat here and I'm just afraid that the Vita might become yet another Zune for Apple's juggernaught.
 


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