PlayStation Vita was a handheld game console, made by Sony Computer Entertainment and was launched in 2011. The handheld console was popular at the time, however, Sony stopped producing PS Vitas in 2019 due to the ever-growing popularity of the Nintendo Switch, completely abandoning the handheld market. They currently do not make any handheld devices, however, their latest console is the PS5. If you are after a handheld gaming device, we would suggest opting for a Nintendo Switch.
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Playstation Vita Buying Guide
Ever since the days of playing Tetris on the Gameboy on long car journeys, having a quality handheld gaming console has been important to many people. PlayStation have had a crack at the market that is normally dominated by Nintendo in the past with the PlayStation Portable, but it never quite had the ability to break into the market in any meaningful manner.
The PlayStation Vita is Sony’s next attempt to dominate the market, and it’s an excellent one. Originally released in 2012 with a stunning OLED display and both Wi-Fi and 3G communication options, the Vita was given an overhaul that hit the European market in February of 2014 and removed the OLED display as well as the 3G capabilities. The new, slimmer Vita is not just about gaming, though, as it can be considered to be a portable entertainment system.
Named “Vita” because it’s the Latin for “life”, the console is less about the individual, dedicated games you can play on it and more about the way it fits in to the Sony eco-system with the PlayStation 4 at the centre of it. That’s not to suggest that you need a PS4 in order to use a PS Vita, far from it in fact. It’s just that you will see the Vita really come into its own if you use it alongside Sony’s flagship gaming console.
Here we’ll be looking at the specs of the Vita, what it offers as a gaming console in its own right and how it works alongside the PS4. We’ll look briefly at the games that it offers and hopefully give you a good idea of whether or not it’s the sort of thing you’d like to treat yourself too.
Weighing in at around 0.48 pounds (219 grams), the new version of the PS Vita is a slim and attractive device. It is powered by a quad-core CPU capable of reaching 2GHz. That means it’s twice as powerful as the Nintendo 3DS and the power allows it to stream both PS3 and PS4 games, but more on that later.
The PS Vita’s screen and its rear panel are both touch sensitive, which is used intelligently by the game makers for the portable console’s gameplay. It also features the Dual thumbsticks you’d expect from a PlayStation controller plus the standard D-pad and the normal X, circle, triangle, and square buttons, as well as stereo speakers and a front and rear camera.
The original Vita didn’t come with any internal memory, but the updated version now contains 1 GB of storage. Despite numerous complaints and issues when the original Vita was released, Sony has stuck to their guns over their proprietary memory card slot. It means you can’t buy any old memory card and make it work, but rather you need to buy one of Sony’s Vita specific memory cards that are normally sold at an inflated price. If you find a bundle that includes an 8 or 16 GB memory card, then you’d be well advised to snap it up.
The original Vita also had a proprietary charging port, meaning that you couldn’t use the now common USB cables people seem to have for everything from Kindles to non-Apple mobile phones. That could be problematic given that the old style Vita only seemed to last for about 4 hours if you were playing games on it. Thankfully Sony have also abandoned that decision with the revamp and the Vita now charges with the more common standard micro-USB. The battery also tends to last more like about 8 hours now too.
The old Vita’s OLED display was a genuine selling point, making colours look vibrant and crisp. The new Vita has an LED screen instead, and in truth it’s rather disappointing. The backlight leaves colours looking somewhat washed out and not quite as clear. If you never used the OLED display you might not notice much difference, but if you did you should know you’re taking something of a step down here.
The new Vita is around 20% slimmer than the old one and about 15% lighter, meaning it’s easier to hold it for longer during extended periods of gameplay.
Finally, connectivity-wise the new version of the Vita has abandoned the 3G option that the original Vita offered in favour of just a wireless connection. This is a little disappointing if you used to enjoy playing with the Vita on your morning commute or long train journey, but it’s not too bad if you have the ability to make your phone into a personal hotspot, for example.
Other Things to Know
Sony released a firmware update recently that introduced parental restrictions to the Vita. This means that parents could put an age limit on the games that could be played on the device, in accordance with the PEGI age ratings that are standard on games nowadays. It also means that children or others can’t run up large bills by buying games in the PlayStation Store.
The same firmware update also introduced a calendar that you can sync with your Google calendar – if you have one. Admittedly, that’s not a game changer, but a message reminder popping up in the middle of a game could save you from missing that meeting you had planned or from forgetting it’s your anniversary.
You can also now put games and applications into folders in much the way you would expect to be able to do with an iPad or mobile phone. No more scrolling through screen after screen of games to find the one you want to play. Especially helpful given that up to 100 applications can appear on the home screen.
Remote Play allows you to play selected PS4 games on your PS Vita, stopping those petty arguments about who gets to watch the TV! You need to pair your PS Vita with your PS4 and then you can control your PlayStation with your Vita anywhere in the house, as long as both devices are connected to the Wi-Fi network. It also has a feature whereby you can turn your PlayStation on from a different location in the world if you have a Wi-Fi connection and you’ve left the PS4 in Sleep Mode.
The Vita can also be used as a second screen with some games, especially useful with sports games like Madden NFL and the FIFA series of games. Some games even allow you to take advantage of the cross-save functionality, meaning you can play your game on the PS Vita and then pick up where you left off on the PS3 or PS4.
Remote Play works best when your Vita is on the same network as the PS4. There can be a little bit of lag if your broadband isn’t the best, but generally speaking the Remote Play function is a good one. Sony recommend that the PlayStation be hardwired to the in-house internet connection if you want it to be at its best.
The recently released PlayStation TV also gives you the ability to play your PlayStation Vita games on your television, as well as a few other fun and interesting things. If you want to fully immerse yourself in the PlayStation eco-sphere then a PS TV is something you can explore.
The Vita is let down by lacking apps like Netflix, iPlayer and Sky Go, meaning you can’t use it to watch TV on the move, sadly. What you can do, however, is use the Remote Play function to run the apps from your PS4 to your PS Vita.
The apps Sony are keen to mention on their website, however, are on mild interest. You can use Skype with your PS Vita, meaning that you can communicate with people from all over the globe via the world’s most famous online chat tool.
Another world famous application that you’ll be able to download to your Vita is Facebook. It works in much the same way as Facebook works on most of your other devices, meaning that you can upload photos, post statuses and generally just waste hours of your day if you so choose.
Some of the other apps include LiveTweet, a Twitter client; Paint Park, which allows you to use the Vita’s touchscreen to draw and paint sketches; Wake-Up Club, which transforms your Vita into a bedside alarm clock; and Party, an app that allows you to chat with your PlayStation Network friends through the device. None of them are overly exciting, but if you don’t already own a tablet then these apps might give you an idea of what that experience might be like.
Sony introduced PlayStation Plus as a way to earn themselves more money by charging people who want to play games online against other. They chose to sweeten the deal by adding certain benefits to their members.
These benefits include things like free game downloads for the PlayStation device you own, with these games remaining available to you for as long as you maintain your PlayStation Plus membership. Do bear in mind, though, that if you want to take advantage of this on your Vita then you’ll need to buy the biggest memory card you can afford.
Another thing you’ll get as a member is a discount for certain games if you buy them through the PlayStation Store. This can be up to 50% on some PS content. You’ll also be able to get full game demos that can be up to an hour in length and will give you a real sense of what the gameplay will be like, with an option to buy the game if you enjoy it.