Hey folks, Valkor here. Last week the folks at Sony Entertainment unleashed onto the masses their latest portable gaming device, the successor to the Playstation Portable (PSP) – The Playstation Vita. I'm still not excited about the name, however after spending some quality time with the system, I'm ready to give it the Val-Cave verdict - it's fucking awesome… with some reservations… read on.
As I stated above, the Playstation Vita (or PSV) takes the place of the PSP (and the PSPGo if anyone will actually admit to owning one), having a similar design yet improving upon its predecessor in every way. From the jump, the first major difference you'll notice is the screen – the PSV has a 5" OLED Multi touch screen, with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 960 X 544 resolution and at the back you have a rear touch pad (if you've been following the PSV's progress, you'll know what the rear touch pad is used for). The PSV also offers front and rear cameras, measuring in at about 1.3 megapixels with a resolution 640 X 480. The cameras not only does images and vid, but you can also expect to get in some augmented reality type games as well. Continuing with the face of the device, you have a D-Pad, dual analog controllers, stereo speakers, start/select button, and a PS Home button, similar to that on the PS3 controller, which will take you out of any app or game and bring you to the home screen.
Zipping around the device, at the top you have L and R shoulder buttons, power button, Vita card slot, volume controls, and an accessory port. At the bottom of the Vita, you have the power/USB connect port (proprietary), earphone/mic jack, and very, very discreetly is the Vita memory card slot.
Once you switch on the device, you'll have a setup screen where you can sign into your SEN account (formerly PSN), setup WIFI, and also sign your life and first born away away by accepting Sony's terms and conditions. After all that's done, you can then play around with the Home Screen, where you can access all your apps, games, etc – all by touch; it's simple and quite effective. I'll have a seperate piece for NEAR as I haven't done too much with it thus far.
Rounding out all the tech specs, internally, the Vita is powered with a Quad core Cortex A9 processor, 512 MB of RAM, 128 MB VRAM, Sixaxis motion sensing, Three-axis electronic compass (for motion control), Bluetooth, WIFI, and for select devices – 3G. For gaming you have a choice of proprietary PS Vita Flash cards, digital downloads, or PSP digital copies. Sorry PSN gamers, no soup for you… maybe. Hey, the Vita is firmware upgradable so who knows what the future will hold.
The Vita launched with a WIFI version as well as a WIFI plus 3G (for use on the AT&T network). I personally picked up the WIFI version; I understand that the 3G version would mean I'll have greater range when it comes to online access. However I'd rather not be in the hole any deeper with the AT&T people and their limited data plan. For a few bucks extra, I'd go with a Clear Wireless Mobile hotspot, which offers 4G wireless and it's unlimited. After checking out the gaming, the apps, some of NEAR, web surfing, and more gaming, what do I think of the PS Vita?
What can I say? I freakin love the PS Vita. I had my doubts about the system, until I started getting some hands with it. After that, it was love at first sight... and touch. The first feature that impressed me was the 5" screen – yes size does matter. Not that the PSP was a slouch when it came to image quality, but those extra inches, plus the bump in resolution really does make a difference. Image quality is mad sharp and crystal clear; not only do games look great, but high quality video is superb! Plus it has an excellent viewing angle – nearly 180 degrees. The touch UI – Love it! It's very responsive, simple, and easy to manipulate; getting around the home screen is cake! When the Vita was first announce and the screen size was discussed, I thought this thing would be unwieldy to hold, but I'm surprised how well it fits in my hand – definitely not cumbersome at all. Actually it feels nicer holding the Vita as opposed to the PSP, which wasn't that bad to begin with. The benefit of the size works also in favor of the touch keyboard; maybe it's because I've gotten used to the interface because of the iPhone, but it just feels so right when typing on the Vita – my thumbs fly across the keyboard, and the number pad is in just the right spot. Great job! The games we'll discuss separately, but so far I'm amazed. Overall, the Vita is a solid offering in portable gaming and if you haven't decided to get one, you should really consider it.
The Vita isn't perfect and I hope ONE of my negatives can be fixed with a simple firmware update. Right off the bat, the camera is weak sauce. I understand, Sony wanted to get the Vita out there at the lowest price point possible, but why oh why skimp on the camera? Better yet, why include a camera at all? They could have made an optional web camera with a higher resolution, because as it stands… picture quality is mad weak! ) .03 MP? COME ON!! Images and vids look grain Next is all the proprietary stuff. The Vita comes with a slot for gaming and a slot for a memory card; I understand why the gaming card has to be proprietary (antipiracy), but why the memory card slot? Sony memory cards are expensive – a 4 GB card runs for 25 at GameStop and a 32 GB? 100 bucks! You know how much a standard SD memory card cost? On Amazon, you're looking at 36 bucks! Sony, bruh, we couldn't get a standard MicroSD for the storage? Finally, if you like you're movies digital and you have a hefty amount stored on a hard drive, but you wanna make sure the format is proper or else the Vita won't accept it. Right now the Vita supports MP4 Simple Profile (ACC) and H.264/MPEG-4). No MKV? Divx? What about WMV? Sure you can convert your own vids for playback on the device, but encoding takes time.
The Vita is out now and is quite possibly the most advanced portable system out there. The Vita has some impressive specs and I hope it gets better with as time passes, plus a handful of awesome launch titles are await. So until some of those hiccups can be remedied and after soaking in the good and bad of the device, out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Sony's Playstation Vita a 4.5 and it's been Valkor tested, TOV Approved!