One Giant Step Ahead of the Nintendo 3DS

By Muhammad Faisal 0 comments
Sony made its replacement to the PlayStation Portable worth the long wait. 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 Choice for handheld game systems, and a significant step ahead of the Nintendo 3DS ($169.99)

Design

Out of the box, the PC 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 weight 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.

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.

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 move 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. As a nice touch, the PS Vita supports Bluetooth devices just like the PS3, including stereo headsets.

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 smartphone's menu system, with everything controlled through the touch screen.

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. The analog sticks have just enough range and tension to feel comfortable for shooters like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, and the face buttons sick out far enough to be easily accessible for combos in games like Ultimate Marvel Vs. Capcom 3.

Thanks to the quad-core ARM Cortex A9 CPU, tha PS Vita's processing power is roughly comparable to the PlayStaion 3, but scaled to handheld size. Lighting effects, crisp rendering, and smooth animation are all impressive to see on a 5-inch OLED screen you hold in your hand.

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 that 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 only choose which folders o make visible to the Vita. From there, you need to use the Vita to transfer files, using the touch screen.

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.

As a handheld-gaming device (emphasis on the word "gaming"), 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. 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.

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