Referring to the PlayStation Vita as a gaming console is somewhat misleading. The system launches Feb. 22 with an impressive lineup, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and it allows you to play PS3 games remotely (say, what!?). But it's really an entertainment platform, allowing you to access your favorite videos, photos, music and applications, such as Netflix and Music Unlimited. It's also a social media platform, supporting sites like Twitter, Facebook, Skype, Flickr and Foursquare. You really don't even have to be a hardcore gamer to get hours of entertainment value from the Vita.
Of course, the Vita system packs the basic hardware peripherals gamers expect from any console these days: left and right trigger buttons, directional pad, left and right analog sticks and a four-button gamepad with the basic shapes we've grown to love since PlayStation One launched in the '90s.
Vita follows the trend of touchscreen control, but takes it a step further with a rear touch pad, facilitating an even more interactive experience without blocking your view of the screen with your hand. Another cool feature is that Vita has both a front and rear camera—again following the current trend for touchscreen devices. On the road and want to chat with your family or share a picture from the trip? You're all set.
This tool will be the hub for all of your multimedia files. You can copy your own music, movies and photos onto Vita from your PlayStation 3, Mac or PC. Watch your favorite sports movie or listen to your favorite playlist to get ready for the big game.
This option is especially exciting. Ever find yourself in the middle of the bottom of the seventh on MLB The Show, when your little brother or sister demands you put on Phineas and Ferb? Now you can happily relinquish control of the television and pick up your game where you left off on Vita. (Rumor has it PlayStation is working on a system update to make this feature compatible with PS3 games already released.)
You can also join multiplayer games and take on your PS3 buddies from wherever you are. The concept sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but Vita makes it a reality.
The Vita would be incomplete without a browser so you can check your email and look up your favorite workouts from the pros (might we suggest STACK.com?). Use the touchscreen to surf the web and save your favorite websites for future viewing.
This has been one of the more hotly debated aspects of Vita. PlayStation gave us a breakdown of how long the battery is supposed to last, as shown below:
- Playing games — 3-5 hours
- Watching videos — 5 hours when network features aren't being used
- Listening to music — 9 hours when the system enters standby mode during music playback
Honestly, we haven't had time to sit down for three-plus hours to see if these claims hold up. But it takes a little under three hours to completely charge the console, so as long as you're monitoring your battery life, you shouldn't have much of a problem.
Another hot topic has been the cost of the console. The cheapest option runs $250. To get the full 3G experience, you'll need to spend an extra 50 bucks. Spending $350 will land you the 3G/Wi-Fi model along with a 4GB memory card, limited edition case, Little Deviants game and a free downloadable PSN game.
We like that the Vita is designed as a long-lasting entertainment package, similar to more expensive tablets, but with a gaming focus. However, if you don't plan on making full use of what the console offers, you can always wait until the inevitable price drop.
Stay tuned for more Vita coverage as we continue to try out new games and applications that will become available after launch. Read more at the PlayStation Vita store, which is now open. Meantime, check out what others are saying about Sony's latest creation.
Console-quality gaming arrives on a portable, but at a cost – [ign.com]
Updated review for U.S. launch – [joystiq.com]
The most technically superior gaming device for your pocket – [digitaltrends.com]
Most advance portable gaming system ever made – [cnet.com]
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