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Sony PlayStation Vita

Sony PlayStation Vita
80100
Digit rating
0
User rating
`24,990

PROS

  • Powerful graphics
  • Beautiful screen
  • Dual analog sticks

CONS

  • Short battery life, and battery isn't removable
  • Proprietary memory card
  • Clunky media manager

Our Verdict

The Sony PlayStation Vita is one of the best handheld game systems to date, even if almost everything it tries to do outside of gaming falls short.

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Sony has finally come out with its replacement for the PlayStation Portable, and it's impressive. The PlayStation Vita takes the PSP's signature design and adds more processing power, optional 3G, dual analog sticks, and an amazingly bright, colorful OLED screen. The result: a handheld gaming device that eclipses the PlayStation 2 in power, and comes very close to the capabilities of the PlayStation 3. Sony made some strange decisions with the Vita's media playback abilities and Web browser, but for gaming it's incredible, making it our Editors' Choice for handheld game systems, and a significant step ahead of the Nintendo 3DS (4 stars, $169.99).

Design
Out of the box, the PS Vita looks like the PlayStation Portable at first glance, but the overall build quality of the PS Vita is much better, right down to the small details. Without a pop-out door for UMDs or a sliding design, the PS Vita feels much more solid than the PSP, and despite their small size the analog sticks have just enough give for responsive control without feeling loose. Besides the proprietary USB port and headphone jack on the bottom, every port and slot on the PS Vita is covered by a door. The top edge holds the game card slot and an accessory port, the bottom edge holds the memory card slot, and the left edge holds the SIM card slot. The handheld weighs a solid 9.8 ounces, and at 3.3 by 7.2 by 0.7 inches (HWD) it's almost the same as the PSP in shape.

Sony PlayStation Vita
The layout is pure PlayStation, with a direction pad, four face buttons, Start and Select buttons, a PlayStation button, two shoulder buttons, and two analog sticks. The top edge of the PS Vita holds the power button and volume controls. While there are only two shoulder buttons instead of four like on the PlayStation 3 controller, the front touch screen and back touchpad have enough input for no-compromise control, unlike the PSP with its single analog pad. The back touchpad sits seamlessly on the back of the PS Vita, without a frame or bezel, while two rubberized grips give your fingers a comfortable place to rest when you're not using the touchpad.
 
Hardware
The 5-inch OLED touch screen is gorgeous. It's bright, colorful, and extremely sharp. Its 960-by-544-pixel resolution makes it almost exactly equivalent to many current-generation large-screen Android phones, and not quite as high-resolution as the iPhone 4S or several 720p Android phones on the market. But at five inches, the PS Vita's display is more than sharp enough to lend a satisfying impression of high-definition video to a movie or game. The screen is also multitouch, so you can pinch to zoom in the Web browser, the map software, and in games.
 
The front- and back-facing cameras seem identical, and are only slightly sharper than the cameras on the 3DS. The Vita might compare favorably to the camera phones of a few years ago in image quality, but if you have a decent smartphone, there is no reason to use the Vita's camera for anything besides video chat and AR (augmented reality) games.
 
As a nice touch, the PS Vita supports Bluetooth devices just like the PS3, including stereo headsets. I paired my Logitech Wireless Headset to the Vita and could hear the background music of the menus and the dialog in Uncharted: Golden Abyss easily. If you don't have a Bluetooth headset, the PS Vita still has a 3.5mm headphone jack and onboard stereo speakers.
 
Visit Page Two to read more about the PS Vita's software, media features, and our verdict.. 

 

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

Source: Sony PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi)

 
 
User Interface
Sony moved away from the XrossMediaBar (XMB) menu design of the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, and Bravia HDTVs and Blu-ray players and gave the PS Vita a complete touch screen interface overhaul. The new system looks less like a gaming device's menu and more like a smartphone's menu system, with everything controlled through the touch screen.
 
Sony PlayStation Vita
 
The main menu consists of icon-like bubbles representing the different games and apps installed on the device. When you select a bubble, the screen shifts to the right, to the app or game's LiveArea. This functions as both a title screen for the game and a gateway to any local or online features available, such as documentation in the form of a digital instruction booklet, shortcuts to the game's website or section of the PS Store for DLC, and news about the game. You can run multiple apps at the same time, switching between their LiveAreas with swipes to the left or right as needed. A notification bobble on the top right of the screen flashes and shows numbers when apps update, letting you know if you need to check them. To shut off an app, just swipe down its LiveArea to peel it off the screen.
 
You can arrange your apps and games across different panes of the main menu. For example, you can categorize your most useful apps and most played games, and then separate them based on whether they're stored on the memory card or are on their own game card. This leads to a strange quirk in the Vita's interface, though. Unlike the 3DS and PSP, which both have a single "game media" slot that pops up when you load a game, every game card you put in the Vita has to be installed separately, which creates its own bubble on the main menu in the process. If you build up a large library of physical PS Vita games, you have to not only juggle the cards to play each game, but then find that specific game's bubble in the menu. Worse yet, there's no indicator that shows which game card is currently inserted. A media slot in the menu would have streamlined the interface a great deal.
 
Apps and Web Browsing
As far as preloaded apps go, the PS Vita comes with a Web browser, music and video players, a photo gallery that can take pictures with the front- and back-facing cameras, a map tool that uses GPS on the 3G version, and Sony's Content Manager for connecting to and transferring files between the PS Vita and a PS3 or PC. You also get a Welcome Park tutorial and minigame set, the same Remote Play feature found on the PSP that lets users access their PS3 through the Vita, Sony's Near social networking service, and a handful of PSN friend-tracking, messaging, and shopping services.
 
Though the PS Vita has a front-facing camera, it only supports video chat between other PSN/SEN users. Skype is planned for the PS Vita in the future, but it was not available at the time of this writing.
 
The Web browser works very well for reading desktop sites, thanks to the bright, sharp touch screen and on-screen QWERTY keyboard, both of which are a huge improvement over navigating with a cursor. However, the browser doesn't work as well for multimedia Web sites. It loaded the PCMag.com home page quickly, loading the full version of the site and not the mobile version (though the mobile versions of other sites also popped up in testing). While text and photos show up clearly, videos don't load at all. The Web browser doesn't seem to support Flash or HTML5 for any sort of video or interactive use, so YouTube, Blip.tv, and Kongregate all refused to load videos or Flash games. Additionally, if you have a Vita game running, you can't use the Web browser without closing the game first.
 
The Gameplay
With dual analog sticks and two touch areas, the PS Vita offers some of the best-feeling portable gaming seen yet. While the analog sticks and face buttons are roughly half the size of the controls found on a PlayStation 3 gamepad, I could still play games comfortably with my large hands. The analog sticks have just enough range and tension to feel comfortable for shooters like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and the face buttons stick out far enough to feel distinct and easily accessible for combos in fighting games like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.
 
Thanks to the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU and he PS Vita's processing power is roughly comparable to the PlayStation 3, but scaled to handheld size. It's certainly capable of more than the PlayStation 2, and rendered games like Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048 smoothly and clearly. Unless you look very close at the textures and slight jaggies in certain shots, Uncharted is indistinguishable from its PlayStation 3 counterpart. Lighting effects, crisp rendering, and smooth animation are all impressive to see on a 5-inch OLED screen you hold in your hand.
 
The launch lineup for the PS Vita is solid, but not perfect. There's already a system selling title, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, at launch, and several strong third-party games and ports, like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 and Lumines: Electronic Symphony. Several PSP games are available over the PS Store, but it's not a complete library of the titles available for the system, and no PSOne Classics (which were playable on the PSP) can currently be played on the PS Vita.
 

Visit Page Three to read more about the PS Vita's media features and our verdict..

 

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

Source: Sony PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi)

 

Media Playback

As great as the Vita is as a video game system, it's horribly clunky as a media player. The Vita includes music and video players, and the OLED screen is fantastic for watching movies, but Sony cracked down so hard on managing media the features might as well not be there. To get media on your Vita, you can't drag and drop files from your computer to the device, or to the memory card. Not only is the memory card proprietary, but the USB connection requires loading Sony's Content Manager Assistant on your computer before you can transfer anything. Even then, you can only choose which folders to make visible to the Vita, with one folder each for movies, music, pictures, and applications. From there, you need to use the Vita to transfer files, using the touch screen. The computer itself acts like a big hard drive with all but four folders invisible.

Since the memory card is PS Vita–only and no card readers are available, you have no other options for putting music and movies on it. Adding insult to injury, the playback controls are entirely touch screen–based. You can't, for example, advance tracks by hitting the shoulder button; you need to be looking at the Vita to go through your music. The PS Vita may support more files and play more media than the 3DS, but it can't come close to the ease of use of a tablet or smartphone for playing movies and music.
Sony PlayStation Vita
Battery life is less than stellar, made worse by the fact that the battery can't be removed or upgraded. On average use, the PS Vita will last between 3 and 5 hours. If you turn off all wireless and keep volume and brightness low, you might be able to push past 5 hours, but as it stands the PS Vita won't last you a full day of use without a recharge. The Nintendo 3DS had similar battery life problems, but third-party replacement batteries and battery grips can fix it. You don't have any options for the Vita's battery.
 
Network
The 3G/Wi-Fi Vita can use AT&T's data network or local Wi-Fi networks to connect to the Internet. AT&T's data plans for the Vita are $15 for 250MB of data monthly or $30 for 3GB of data monthly. Either way, if you plan on downloading games on your Vita, make sure it's connected to a Wi-Fi network. Less bandwidth-intensive activities like Web browsing and multiplayer gaming make the 3G a useful feature.
 
Network speeds were solid in PC Labs. While we couldn't run our usual speed tests because of the limitations of the Web browser, we used DSL Reports' mobile speed test to find an average of 988Kbps, with an impressive peak of 1,714Kbps.
 
As a handheld gaming device, the Sony PlayStation Vita excels. It's powerful, has a beautiful screen, and offers two analog sticks so you can actually play shooters on the go without compromising. From a technical standpoint, the PS Vita is the greatest handheld gaming device yet. From a gaming standpoint, we'll have to see how the system and the games available for it evolve. The relatively short battery life is the only thing that holds it back as a gaming system, but several irritating things crop up when using the Vita for other tasks. Its Web browser doesn't support Flash yet, its memory card is proprietary, and its content manager is a clunky joke. However, the PS Vita is a gaming system first and foremost, and as that it stands proudly as an Editors' Choice. Just plan to use it for gaming, though, and not as a replacement for your current media player.

 

Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.

Source: Sony PlayStation Vita (3G/Wi-Fi)

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