The 5-inch touchscreen at the center of the Vita has a 960x544 resolution, which may seem a bit odd, but it’s very bright, crisp and even fast-moving graphics look absolutely fantastic. In terms of physical design, the Vita looks a lot like the PSP, but they are very different machines. First of all, the Vita is a lot bigger and heavier, something I really like- if fits well in my hands.
The controls are also a welcome upgrade from the PSP. On the left of the screen, you find a classic D-Pad, and an analogue stick. On the right, you find the triangle, circle, square, and x buttons you’ve come to associate with PlayStation, as well as another analogue stick. If that wasn’t enough, the front also has a 0.3 megapixel camera, two speakers, and start and select buttons.
Furthermore, on the top you find left and right shoulder buttons, on/off button, and volume controls. Finally, on the rear, there’s another 0.3 megapixel camera, a microphone, and the new Touch Pad.
The controls are better placed and feel better than those of the PSP. Not all games take full advantage of all the controls yet, especially the Touch Pad, but the future looks exciting. My only complaint is the shoulder buttons because they don’t have a distinct click feeling to them, so it’s sometimes hard to know whether you hit them or not.
Unfortunately, there’s no on-board storage on the Vita (couldn’t Sony has throw in a few gigabytes at least?), and it only takes proprietary memory cards. That is a simply put a stupid decision, in a world that has standardised on SD and microSD cards.
I regularly got around 4.5 to 5 hours of gaming out of a charge, which is on the low side, but not terrible. Presumably using the 3G connection on the Vita would shorten the battery life, but I did not try that functionality.
When it comes to games, the Vita has an impressive lineup at launch. I tried Uncharted: Golden Abyss (amazing!), Fifa Soccer (pretty good), and F1 2011 (splendid). All games were impressive, graphics were great for a handheld device, sound was rich and deep, and controls were responsive.
Sony also makes “hundreds” of PSP games available for purchase and download to the Vita, something that certainly adds to the chance that you will find plenty to entertain yourself with.
There is no doubt that the Vita is an amazing piece of hardware and games look great on it. As a follow-up to the PSP, it’s improved in every way imaginable and dedicated gamers will drool over the Vita.
As a gaming experience, the Vita beats a smartphone hands down, but it’s also another piece to carry around, charge, etc. Before buying a Vita, be sure that you will actually use it enough to warrant the expense, and that the games you want to play are available. If you’re even a little bit unsure, you’re probably better off just to keep gaming on your smartphone.
Magnus Nystedt @mnystedt
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