After five similar models of PlayStation Portable, Sony has finally reinvented its portable gaming system, changing everything and bringing new technologies to the PS Vita.
Introduced in 2005, Sony’s PlayStation Portable has had a varied life, with many versions released. Originally designed to be a portable PlayStation 2, the handheld console would take games on a modified MiniDisc called a “UMD”, play music and movies, and even surf the web.
Seven years later, Sony is shaking things up by redesigning and refreshing the entire console, even going so far as to shed the PSP name. From 2012, the new console is the PS Vita, and boy, have things changed.
From the first look, the design is actually fairly similar. While the PSP has gone through several iterations, the premise was always the same: a large widescreen display flanked on each side by PlayStation controls.
Here in the PS Vita, the premise hasn’t changed much, with the console featuring an analog control stick on both the left and right sides, directional pad on the left, and action buttons on the right. Paddle buttons exist on the top – where your trigger fingers would normally go – and more or less, this is a PlayStation 3 controller as designed around a screen.
The screen sitting in the centre is a 5 inch OLED touchscreen display with a 960×544 qHD resolution, running atop a bed of technology, including a quad-core processor, 256MB RAM, Six-Axis motion sensors, WiFi, and Bluetooth.
For something completely different, the rear of the Vita is coated in a touchpad decorated with tiny circles, squares, crosses, and triangles – the shapes used on the PlayStation buttons. This touchpad aims to bring more interactivity to games, allowing you to use your fingers to do more while your thumbs beat away at the buttons on the front.
Two cameras have also been thrown into the mix here, wth 1.3 megapixel cameras used on both the front and back of the handheld.
Sony has released two models here, with a WiFi only and a WiFi/3G model, similar to how Apple releases two specific iPad variations. In the WiFi/3G Vita, a SIM card slot exists on the right side, while this feature is of course missing from the WiFi-only variant. Both models feature a memory card slot at the bottom right, charge/transfer and headphone ports on the bottom, and a plethora of bits on the top, including a power button, covered Vita game cartridge slot, covered accessory port, and volume buttons.
Both devices support Bluetooth, too, offering support for wireless headphones.
In the box, you’ll find a USB to Vita cable that can be plugged into both the power charge unit and a computer, useful if you plan on moving content to and from the console. You’ll also find manuals and augmented reality cards, but interestingly there are no headphones. Perhaps Sony assumes that everyone has a pair they love now; whatever the reason, there are no headphones in the PS Vita package.
What we like
Switching on the PS Vita, it’s hard not to feel a little impressed by the screen technology used here.
While the 5 inch qHD screen doesn’t have the same pixels per inch as Apple’s Retina screen found on the iPhone 4/4S, it still manages to hold its own, with 220ppi, compared to the 329ppi on the iPhone’s 3.5 inch screen.