One week ago today, I arrived at home to find that happy little box from Amazon waiting for me at the front door. As usual, I was excited to get a package (who doesn’t get that way) from my favorite online retailer and even more excited that it was my brand new Sony PSVita. I’ve had one week to test out the latest handheld gaming system and I thought it fitting that today (the official U.S. release of the Vita) would be a great day to give you a review.
Before We Start the Review
Before we get started, you need to know that I did not receive the PSVita for free and I am not being paid to write this review. I spent my hard-earned cash and ordered the PlayStation Vita First Edition Bundle from Amazon.com months ago. Take that into consideration when reading the review and realize that this is an honest, fair assessment made up of my experience with the device.
Also note that I consider myself a pretty avid gamer. I’ve owned just about every major console over the last decade from the original XBOX to the Playstation 3 and XBOX360. I spend a fair amount of time each week (more than I care to share) gaming online.
PSVita Review – By a Real Person
I’ll jump in by saying I am pretty happy with my purchase of the PSVita. After handling one of these at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) just over a month ago, I knew I had to get one for further “testing.” Here are my thoughts after one week of ownership:
- Screen Quality – the screen resolution and brightness is phenomenal. I am still truly blown away by the quality of the images and how much light the Vita puts off. Whites are super white and blacks almost blend into the black plastic casing of the unit.
- Graphics – The graphics (the actual moving images) are clean, crisp and I haven’t seen a single stutter or lag of any kind so far. It’s almost like playing a PS3 in the palm of your hand.
- Weight – the PSVita feels much lighter than the original PSP (which I still own) so I can hold and game at just about any angle without my arms feeling heavy.
- More Input – With a touch-screen back and an additional thumbstick on the right, there are now more ways to control your gaming experience AND an entirely new opportunity in gaming. The touch-screen back is featured in Little Deviants (the game that came with my First Edition bundle) and I look forward to future games that find a unique way to integrate this feature.
- Cameras – front and back cameras seemed like overkill to me originally, but then I found a game mode in Little Deviants that makes use of the rear camera, adding a touch of augmented reality. I could shoot things flying around me and had to pick up the PSVita and spin around to really get into the action. This really adds a new element to traditional gaming and I can’t wait to see what future games do with the cameras.
- Sound – If you ever played the PSP you’ll know that the old UMD disks could make some real noise once they started spinning. With the Vita, there is a new “cartidge” type and no noise at all is produced. The Vita is completely silent when running.
- Downloadable games – Through the Vita you can log on to the PlayStation Store and buy just about any game as a direct download. There is a slight discount in doing so, but you won’t have any physical media to sell to a used game store or let your friends borrow. It’s up to you to decide if this is a positive or negative.
- ANOTHER adapter – Sony didn’t use a standard connection for the power supply and that drives me nuts. I now have another cable correction cables to carry around with me everywhere I go, not to mention a “brick,” about the size of 3 AA batteries that is required to charge the internal battery of the PSVita. The 3 components needed to charge the device won’t actually fit in the carrying case with the Vita. Major fail.
- Game Cartridges – The old UMD is gone and Sony has turned to new cartridges (weird name for them) that are almost identical to SD cards. In fact, I am pretty sure they are just SD cards in a special Sony casing. Again, Sony feels the need to create their own type of memory/media so you have to buy new gear to stay in the game. Fail.
- Online Passes – Want to take your new copy of Wipeout 2048 for a spin on the world wide web and battle against other gamers? You’ll need to buy the game new or shell out $9.99 for an online pass if you purchase a used copy or borrow from a friend. Since I buy most of my games new, this isn’t a big deal, but it will be for game stores.
- Screen – While the screen quality is great, the screen construction might leave something to be desired. From what I have read, the screen is made of plastic and has a high probability of getting scratched. I went through this with my original PSP and I didn’t want to take any chances with the PSVita, so I shelled out an additional $9.99 for the PlayStation Vita Protective Film – Two Pack and immediately placed one on the PSVita before I began playing (air bubble and all).
- Battery Life – I am still on the fence about the battery life. I have not done any extensive testing, but it seems I can get around 3-4 hours of game time before I get the low battery warning. My real complaint here is that I can only check the battery life from the home screen (which means backing out of my game) and it is represented with bars, instead of a percentage.
- Load Times – One thing I always liked about the iPhone/iPad games is the fact that I can press an icon and be “in the game” within 10 seconds. With the PSVita, it can sometimes take me over a minute to launch the game and begin racing around the track in Wipeout 2048. That is IF I am not switching between games. If I decide to change to Little Deviants, I’ve gotta locate the cartridge and change it out as well. That takes even more time. Maybe I am just spoiled by iOS.
That’s all I have for now, but I am sure I’ll learn more about the overall gaming experience of the PSVita as times goes on. I’ll update the article and add any additional thoughts as I can. Do you think I missed anything? Do you have any questions about the PSVita or want to see a picture of something particular? Just let me know in the comments below and I will be happy to help, one gamer to another.
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