The PS Vita goes on sale tomorrow and Sony's second generation portable gaming console hardly needs an introduction. It's been 7 years since the PSP launched, and even though the device is about deep gameplay and quality titles, the hardware was more than a little rusty. The PS Vita goes on sale tomorrow for $249 for the WiFi only version and $299 for the WiFi plus AT&T 3G version. The $349 first edition bundle that includes the WiFi + 3G PlayStation Vita, a rigid case, 4 gig memory card, 6 AR games cards and the game Little Deviants went on sale February 15.
The Vita is simply an inspired piece of hardware. This is the Sony of old that made cutting edge hardware in exquisite packages. The Vita's overall design is reminiscent of the PSP with a long oval shape, relatively large display and analog and digital controls. The PS Vita adds dual analog control sticks- yes! It's gorgeous to look at, feels solid (I haven't ripped out those analog sticks yet, despite 30 hours of inspired play) and is loaded with every feature in the book. The PS Vita has a touchscreen, a rear touch panel, 6 axis control (gyroscope, accelerometer and a digital compass too), front and rear cameras (great for augmented reality gameplay, not so great for taking stunning photos) and wireless access to the PS Store and social networking.
The 5" OLED display runs at 960 x 544 pixels and the colors are extremely saturated yet not overdone like Super AMOLED smartphone displays. Blacks are rich and the screen is extremely sharp. It's a touchscreen, and that means entering info using the virtual keyboard is easy rather than the tedious affair on the PSP. Games can use the touchscreen, the rear touch pad, the cameras and GPS. Yes, it has a GPS and Google Maps too.
The Vita runs on a quad core ARM 9 CPU (as does the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android tablet), and it has a quad core PowerVR GPU (the quad core version of the dual core used in the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S). It packs serious power and should be more than powerful enough for several years of good quality games.
The Vita can play PSP downloadable games and you can transfer games and media to and from a PS3, Mac or Windows PC using the included USB cable.
This thing is downright fun. Smartphone games are rarely this immersive, deep and long. There's no freemium plague here as there is with smartphones where a game is free, but you've got to play some serious bucks to progress or avoid tedium. Yes, Houston, there's still a place for dedicated portable game consoles. Though Sony pushes the Vita into multi-purpose territory with a video player (and video rental/purchase service), music player, Google Maps, a web browser, PSN social networking, Netflix and Skype.
Here's our PS Vita video review. Please note that my brain did a reverse bungle, and near the beginning I say there's a 3G-only model for $249, and I meant to say WiFi-only model for $249.