DESIGN
DISPLAY(S)
GAME SELECTION
PERFORMANCE
BATTERY LIFE
SPEAKERS
3.978

Admin’s note: This article was contributed by William, and he’s an expert on tech stuff!

Story

Just a few months back, I got myself a Playstation Vita after mulling over the thought of buying it for months. The first thing that got me interested in the Vita is the game “Corpse Party: Blood Drive”, which is said to be exclusive to the Vita. As a big fan of the series, I knew I had to own the Vita one day. There’s no two ways about it.

Soon after, I started reading about other games on the Vita, such as Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, Persona 4 and Dragon’s Crown. Raving reviews about the latter 2 games made my desire for the Vita grew, until one day I succumbed to it. I bought it at the price of SGD $299 (USD $236) bundled with Lumines: Electric Symphony. Here’s my Playstation Vita (2013) Review.

Review

PS Vita Review

Presenting to you my 3-Month-Old Playstation Vita

 

I’m going to review the PCH-1006, or better known as the 1st Gen Vita. I’m going to split this into 2 parts: Hardware and Software. The first part will be in this post where I cover the hardware where I go through the hardware specifications and express my opinion at the same time. The second will be in another post where I cover software-related points of the Vita and make an overall conclusion.

Hardware

CPU  + GPU: ARM® Cortex™- A9 core (4 core) + SGX543MP4+

(Just a quick note here, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) is the main processor that handles the main processes of the Vita, whereas the GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) is the processor that process and churns out graphics for games for the Vita.)

This particular combination of processors is similar to the A5x chip of the Apple devices (The processor used in The New iPad). The A5x sports a dual core A9 ARM Cortex processor along with the quad core SGX543MP4, whereas the Vita has a quad core A9 ARM Cortex processor along with the SGX543MP4+. In terms of raw power between these devices, there isn’t much difference between these 2 sets of processors but if you were to compare between these 2 devices, the Vita can potentially perform better due to the smaller screen size, reducing the need to render higher resolution images and the simpler Playstation Vita system software, unlike the iOS.

However, to reduce power consumption and extend battery life, it will be rare to see the processor running at its full speed of 2.0Ghz. Thus the CPU may not be used to its fullest potential. But no matter what, the Vita is still a powerful piece of device which up till now, I have no complaints about the hardware being a bottleneck in delivering excellent performance.

Overall Aesthetics

Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth), Weighs Wi-Fi: 260 g 3G: 279 g

Vita5 (Large)

It still looks sexy, even when covered with that matte screen protector

 

Fatter and longer than the PSP. Of course, with its larger screen. Most of the front side of the vita is glossy, and this makes the console actually look sleek and beautiful, like a piece of art. Whoever designed this really should be given credit for bringing great aesthetic value for this console, but for me, making it glossy just makes me worry about scratching it, and it really reflects a lot of light when playing in the sun. Moreover, natural oil or even sweat secreted by your fingers easily creates a stain that gets pretty irritating at times to look at when it builds up. So to solve all these problems, I got myself a matte screen protector.

It’s glossy outlook, however, can be pretty jarring to the eye when played at certain angle or outside in the sun. A matte screen protector does solve half the problem though.

Overall aesthetics wise, I’d compare the Vita to a supermodel, whereas the 3DS XL to a girl-next-door. It’s pretty obvious much thought has been given to make the Vita look beautiful.

Screen

Capacitive Multitouch screen, 5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED

Vita1 (Large)

Toukiden (PSP Version) on the Vita still looks sweet

I’d say its responsiveness is at least on par with the ipad mini.

This feature is a godsend to me. It brings a playing games to a whole new level with its responsiveness and precision compared to the NDS, and succeeded in where the PSP has failed in terms of functioning as an entertainment device. Especially the web browser, the web browser and the web browser. You can now actually type on an onscreen keyboard as compared to using the directional pad to go through every single alphabet on the keyboard, get the alphabet you want, then go through gazillions of alphabets again to get to the next alphabet you want. In the PSP, I always ran out of patience by the time I finished typing the URL when using the browser so in the Vita, it eliminated the typing problem and now choosing a name when you start a game isn’t a chore anymore.

As for visuals on the Vita, only one word for this. Beautiful. On my first experience with the Vita at the Sony Store, my mouth was gaping open while i was playing a bit of Uncharted. The vibrant colors and sufficiently high resolution it produces makes almost everything on the Vita look beautiful. On graphic-intensive games such as Ragnarok Odyssey Ace, it really changed my perspective on how graphics could be on a handheld console. Of course, it’s not on the PS3 level, but I’m more than satisfied with how graphics turned out to be on a handheld console. It easily exceeds my expectations.

The Vita is obviously not meant to be played in the sun, however. Compared to tablet these days, it’s maximum brightness output is too low to overcome the glare against the sun. I got pretty frustrated squinting while playing in the sun.

Rear Touch Pad

Vita3 (Large)

Traces of poor protective film application skill

Very much of a gimmick. Most games don’t implement the use of this feature. I tried playing DJ Max on it and it’s extremely awkward. The weight of the Vita makes it hard to play comfortably with its weight on 1 hand while the other hand tries its best to keep up with the rhythm, and you have to quickly switch to both the front and back at many points. On the other hand, for Disgaea 3, the rear touch pad is used to change the camera angle when touching on one corner and selecting friendly units on the other. Although most of the rear touchpad is left unused, I actually felt implementing the use of it this way was excellent and improved the controls as compared to the first Disgaea on the PSP.

In short, the rear touchpad serves better as a peripheral function rather than a main one. I have yet to find a game that uses it as a main control and does it well so if you have one to recommend, do drop a comment in this post and I’ll try it out.

Cameras

1.o Megapixel Front camera, 3.0 Megapixel Rear camera

In the age of 41 Megapixel Camera Handphones, the 3.0 Megapixel rear camera and 1.0 Megapixel front camera of the Vita is pretty pathetic. However, it would be unfair to say it’s totally useless. It still produces usable photos to publish onto social networking apps available for the Vita and Skype still renders faces recognizably well. You won’t use it much, but it doesn’t hurt to have it on your hands.

Audio

Built-in stereo speakers, built-in microphone

You can make voice/video calls out of the box. Extremely convenient. The speakers just serves its function without exceeding any expectations.

Sensors

Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass

Another gimmick. Tilting the screen around while playing games sound like a recipe for motion sickness. I simply can’t understand why they’d add this. Even lesser games implement this function than the read touch pad, and Disgaea 3 uses it for only it’s loading screen. (You tilt to move a Prinny around while waiting for the game to load).

Location

Built-in GPS, Wi-Fi location service support

Sony has published some free simple games that implement this function. I haven’t found any use for it, save for the using the Map app. I’m still trying out the location service-enabled games, so i’ll update further on this on my next post.

Keys / Switches

  • PS button
  • Power button
  • Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left)
  • Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square)
  • Shoulder buttons (Right/Left)
  • Right stick, Left stick
  • START button, SELECT button
  • Volume buttons (+/-)

The power switch is now a button, where you used to have to toggle a physical switch on the older PSP. Press to on, press to go on standby, and hold to off. No more ‘Hold’ function. The volume button is of the same shape and size located at the above the Vita on the right. I have no qualms about the volume and power buttons of the Vita.

Vita4 (Large)Turning the Vita on feels more responsive and quick now

 

The directional and action buttons feels very different from the PSP. It has become more tactile, and the depth which the buttons can be depressed is now more shallow. The shoulder buttons don’t feel much different than the PSP, but the depth which it can be depressed is now more shallow too. The existence of a second analog stick now makes third-person and first-person games easier to play. Many games used the directional pad to control the camera with the PSP, and while the games were still playable. the hands were usually in an unnatural position. That is now history with the Vita.

The start and select buttons are really poorly designed in the Vita. Not only they are small, smaller than the surface area which my Asian thumbs usually makes contact with the button, the buttons are also flush with the front faceplate of the Vita. This means that every time I had to press either buttons, I had to either press hard enough so enough of my thumb flesh can push the button or use my fingernail (only when it is long, and it usually is not) and risk scratching the glossy buttons.

This also applies to the home button, just that its larger size makes it less of a chore to press it. The home button also continues to light up when you place the Vita in sleep mode and pressing it wakes the Vita up. Both are a minus in my books. I don’t like knowing that extra power (minimal though) is lighting up the button without any practical purpose, and I don’t like having buttons other than the power button to wake it, but its not really that big of a problem. Just a little annoying to me.

Actually, there is a workaround for the home, select and start button problem, and that is to use a certain silicon cover for the Vita. This silicon cover is designed to make all three buttons raised so that you can depress them easily. Do your leave your email in the comment box if you’re interested in it.

Vita2 (Large)

A total matte black outlook.

Wireless Communications

  • Mobile network connectivity (3G), IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)
  • (Wi-Fi)(Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
  • Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

It took me half an hour to download a 400+ MB game over 3G, and websites load at a reasonable time. I have no complaints for the 3G speed and like the speakers, it carries out its function without exceeding expectations. Same goes for Wifi, just that I haven’t tried downloading anything big over Wifi. Every time I needed to refer to a FAQ, I switch out to the browser pretty quickly, do my stuff, and switch it back to my game. In my opinion, it made things pretty convenient.

I’m planning to experiment playing online using 3G outdoors, so i’ll be providing updates on it on my next Vita post.

I never used the Bluetooth function. Perhaps for bluetooth headphones, but i must say this isn’t a very important feature. Another nice-to-have.

To Be Continued?

Vita6 (Large)

A powerful console with untapped potential

There are still tons of things I haven’t talked about on the Vita yet which you can look forward to my next Vita-related post. some of which includes:

  • Various apps worthy of mentioning that makes the Vita a more valuable device to own
  • Games that use the location-service of the Vita
  • The experience of playing online outside using 3G
  • The LiveArea, which replaces the XMB of the old PSP
  • The untapped potential of the Vita
  • How it compares to the 3DS XL and,
  • Whether it’s more worth it to get the Vita or the 3DS XL

It’ll be some time before I gather enough data for this next post, so…

Stay Tuned!
William

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