Let’s get one thing straight —hand-held consoles aren’t just for kids or insolent teenagers. If you have played games and drained your handset, laptop or tablet PC batteries while travelling, then you should be in the market looking for a dedicated handheld gaming and entertainment device that will keep you occupied. After Sony’s last experiment of a gaming smartphone, Xperia Play, met with limited commercial success, Playstation Vita nearly ticks all the right boxes.
Playstation Vita is essentially a compact 5-inch OLED TV as display that is adorned with iPad-like touch screen that can play high definition games & videos and also connect to the internet (WiFi or 3G models available).
But the fact remains that the price of Vita starts at nearly Rs 20,000 (the price you would pay for a console gaming unit or an entry level netbook) for the WiFi model and nearly Rs 25,000 for the 3G model (data charges extra). Additionally, the game titles will cost a minimum Rs 2200, and since Vita is based entirely on solid-state memory, there’s an extra cost of memory cards too.
In simple terms, the new Playstation Vita is an all-in-one portable entertainment centre that allows to play games, watch TV shows and movies, stream music, surf the web, chat with friends and connect to social networks. Smaller than a tablet and larger than a smartphone, Vita fits into its own sweet spot. Probably, not a wise investment for someone who already owns a gaming console. Vita may be a good pick — although expensive — for those who like to keep themselves entertained while on the move.
Vita resembles the older Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) and that’s a good thing for many gamers.
While Nintendo 3DS’ biggest gimmick was the glasses-free 3.5-inch 3D screen, Vita stands out as a more power-packed device. A 2GHz quad core, ARM Cortex A9 chip powers Playstation Vita while Nintendo 3DS is powered by 1GHz dual core ARM11 CPU chip. Vita is not only more powerful than any other handheld console but also backward compatible with PSP games from PlayStation Network downloaded via the PlayStation Store.
The front of the console has two joysticks, a major thing for many gamers. The direction pad and face buttons are on opposite sides of the console and the trigger buttons are nestled in the top of the device. So you have every input option on the Vita that you'll find on the PS3 controller. There’s a touchscreen on the front and back, and you can control it five different ways, such as tilting it forward to make the little character jump on the screen. It also has a built-in digital camera, video camera, and audio recorder. The controls on the device may overwhelm someone who has only played games on smartphones or mobile devices.
Pictures and video render beautifully on the screen — thanks to the 960x544 resolution of the OLED screen — and are better than on any smartphone or tablet PC. Games, too, are reproduced on the display in the best possible light likely better than most TVs can muster. Vita has two cameras, one in the front and another at the back that capture video or still images in QVGA or VGA modes. The output is not very impressive. Nintendo 3DS scores here with its front-facing VGA camera and two rear-facing WQVGA cameras capable of capturing 3D video and images at 480p.
What impressed us was that we could play games like Rayman Origins, ModNation Racers, Uncharted, and Wipeout 2048 on the Vita with the same controls and essentially the same graphics that you can on the PlayStation 3. What did not impress us was the dismal battery support that lasted about 4.5 hours. As far as games are concerned, Nintendo also hits the nail with Mario Kart, Super Mario Brothers, Nintendogs, Metal Gear Solid and Resident Evil games, that appeal to casual gamers.
It’s true that NIntendo’s 3DS’ launch didn’t quite have the resounding public impact that Nintendo may have hoped for — something that has largely been put down to a poor launch line up of games. Vita, too, has a long road ahead. Its competition won’t be the static console unit like Xbox 360, but a mobile world that updates itself continuously.