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Who can forget the PlayStation Meeting that happened on January 2011 in Japan? Yes, the PlayStation Vita was shown there – and gamers have been waiting for one ever since. Well, that time is almost here now with Vita on the cusp of release. We, the GamingBolt staff, will be vigorously covering all the games, accessories and the hardware, so that our readers get to know more about the system. This is a comprehensive hardware review – detailing all the features, OS and other minor things about the system that you never knew.
The Vita is priced at Rs. 19,990 in India for the WiFi only model and Rs. 24,990 for the 3G/WiFi model, and while the pricing is slightly suspect, you can be rest assured that what you’re getting is a quality Sony product. Everything from the build quality to the overall design of the system gives a premium feel. Yes, the Vita makes a spectacular first impression. In the age of smartphones dominating with their small form factor and powerful applications, and hardware, can the Vita set itself apart and shine on its own? Two things – software support and the price — will dictate that.
What makes it Special?
As I mentioned earlier – Vita is a stunner. The 5-inch juicy OLED screen will make plenty of people stop in their tracks, guaranteed. It also has two analogue sticks that is a major differentiation factor between it and its predecessor, the PSP. They both have the same brick form factor – and the Vita is slightly bigger. Sony hasn’t really held back while designing the Vita, this thing is supposed to give people console experiences on the go, with gaming as its primary function. It isn’t called a dedicated gaming portable device for no reason. The one thing that was immediately noticeable when holding that Vita was that – it’s remarkably light, or should I say, it has the perfect weight. It also has a new addition compared to the PSP, which is the back touchpad. I was a little sceptical of this when they showed the device but I’m sort of cozying up to it now. The device is completely touch based, and the screen is pretty receptive – what more could you ask for, really?
Vital accessories to spurge on!
What can be termed as a negative thing, the proprietary Sony memory cards are back! They come in sizes 4GB, 8GB, 16GB and 32GB – the latter isn’t available in India or the EU for now, for god knows what reason, but the unit I got for review came with a 16GB card. It’s very tiny, almost as small as your fingernail and fits in quite well in the card slot. It’s a given that you will get better loading speeds with them. The reason I’m calling these tiny cards “vital” is because you absolutely need one for doing basically anything with the Vita. I thought these deserved a special mention just because of these two important factors: price and utility.
Relevance in a turbulent world
I wrote this review with my Apple iPad 2 and Samsung Galaxy 2 staring at my face, and my Nintendo 3DS desperate for attention. Tough times, you know! But hey, what can I do if the Vita outclasses all of these monstrous products in looks? I’ll be comparing the Vita with these devices – but you cannot be oblivious to the fact that these are strong competitors waiting to make the Vita irrelevant. It’s clear that Sony has thought about it when designing the system, when you look at the PS Suite and a glut of Smartphone like functions that the Vita can provide you. Yes, you can access Twitter, or go on Facebook and post pictures, which I’m going to do right now! Or just browse the net leisurely. As a dedicated gaming device, Vita has functions that outstrips the PS3 itself – not really shocking considering the PS3 is like what, 5-years old now? I’m talking about the online functions: Cross chat, party invites, profiles, Skype and a lot more. All these things are well integrated and provide the Vita necessary features to appeal to a hardcore demographic initially.
Do you need to have one?
Are you the sort that enjoys casual games on the iOS platform? Or the one that totally despises the games it offers? The PlayStation Vita’s first main problem is the size. How exactly do I justify this device to people who place a lot of emphasis on portability? I can’t, but that’s no reason to overlook this device. Smartphones will always be the jack of all trades, but each and every experience they provide cannot match up to something that has a dedicated function; in this case – gaming. If you desire a portable device that can provide you a competent gaming experience, with gorgeous visuals and proper control inputs, the Vita is the ultimate device that is available right now. I simply cannot put it any other way.
Uncharted on the Vita is as close as you will get to a proper console experience on the go. Sony also realizes the mistakes they made with the PSP, considering it didn’t really have games that utilized its strengths well. It’s different with the Vita; you will find plenty of, so called, ‘original’ games like, Escape Plan, Gravity Rush and so on. The current launch titles are the strongest I have seen for any gaming hardware, and it offers content for every type of gamer. You can also download Angry Birds and give it a go on that luscious OLED screen if you want.
Control me now
The emphasis on controls is what sets Vita apart from the rest. Plenty of people were disappointed with the PSP and its single analogue nub. Sony has fixed that here with the Vita. You can never go wrong with two analogue sticks ever, and gyroscope functions if you need that jazz. The sticks are quite small, but feel just right to use, and the main part is that, they are extremely responsive with limited deadzone. It has the class PlayStation buttons, which are quite small but efficient. L1 and R1 buttons for you know what, and the rear touchpad which allows you to manipulate the screen without getting your fingers in the way. It’s quite ingenious, I might add. The d-pad is the best that I have ever used, and it’s quite better than the one in the DualShock 3 controller. Everything else is quite straightforward, and I have to mention one very important thing; the build quality is through the roof. This is a premium device and will notice that immediately. You don’t even have to touch the damn thing!
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Gorgeous OLED screen. Superb control options. Great launch lineup. Adequate battery strength. Plenty of network features, and ergonomically designed hardware. Near is a fantastic feature that will help you make new friends.
The UI is underwhelming. The device is locked to one PSN id. Proprietary memory cards can be a pain.
The PlayStation Vita is an amazing hardware. You will actually be surprised when you hold the thing, and get immersed in that beautiful OLED screen. The Vita is a must own system, if you like portable console experiences on the go with great network features.