Five Reasons to Get a PS Vita - Review

By Rich Shivener in Reviews
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm
PS Vita is rocking my face.

Yes, friends, this is a super-endorsement of Sony's PlayStation Vita. No use hiding the fact that I love this handheld device, something that feels like a smartphone and plays like a PS3. And while it does have some mehs, there are plenty of reasons to grab one even if you have devices like a Nintendo 3DS or an iPad.

You might consider this next section a sales pitch, but I promise to offer criticisms. In short, the Vita had a successful launch, but we're just seeing the beginning of its power. Or so I hope.

Also, I won't bore you with all the tech speak. Specs are posted here Reason #1: Social Media
Tweeting with some friends.

Because most of us can't live without them, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr apps are available as free downloads through the PlayStation Store, synced with the PSN account(s) on your Vita. The three apps have been optimized for the Vita's 5-inch, OLED touchscreen, but I dig Twitter's "LiveTweet" most, as it like it wasn't shoehorned into the Vita. Tweeting, writing direct messages and scrolling through updates - everything is super-easy, formatted in a manageable way.

The downside? The Vita doesn't have a notification system synced with the apps. Thus, when some idiot named @RyanWinslett mentions me in a Tweet, I have no way of knowing he did that until I launch the app.

Reason #2: Decent Cameras

The Vita has front and rear cameras, both of which have decent resolutions (up to 640x480) and frame rates (60-120, depending on your configuration). Honestly, I think they're just as good as the iPad 2's cameras. Not great - but good. Here are a few videos and photos I took. (Apologies that you have to see my ugly mug.)

My messy office looks decent.

Yup, this is a bad angle, but the photo looks clear.

Overall, photos look better than videos, and those are a little grainy, but they aren't worthless. They could be useful for, say, live Tweeting a gaming conference or reviewing a video game on the fly. If you'd rather keep them private, you can simply download them by using the Content Manager Assistant app, which connects the Vita with a PS3 or PC/Mac.

Reason #3: Netflix
Devil may care that Netflix is great.

Also something I can't live without, Netflix has an app optimized for the Vita. At first, I had my reservations about this app, simply because the Vita's Internet connections have been questionable with my Wi-Fi networks (one at a university and the other at my home). But overall, it's fantastic. I watched an entire episode of Devil May Cry without interruption. The initial load time was a little slow, but nothing to cry about.

Reason #4: Remote Play

One of the most talked about items of the Vita is its Remote Play functionality, an upgrade from that of PSP. At the moment, you can control some features of the PS3, including the PlayStation Store and PSOne Classics. In fact, you can access those while you're on lunch break at work, so long as both systems have an Internet connection. Translation: Final Fantasy VII could look sweet.

Here's hoping Remote Play get an update in the near future. The gaming communities have been lauding its ability (as demonstrated in official and unofficial [hacker] demos) to stream PS3 games like Killzone 3 and Red Dead Redemption.

Reason #5: Touch, Touch, Touch - or Why FIFA Soccer Rules
Touch your way to victory.

Thus far in my Vita adventures, I've played FIFA Soccer and Lumines: Electronic Symphony. Of those two, FIFA Soccer is my latest obsession. I'm enthralled by its control scheme involving the front and rear touch screens. In fact, the front screen can be use for passing and switching players (just like the iPad versions). The rear touch screen, also 5 inches wide, is a precision-shooting control, and it's quite handy for breakaway goals and headers. But be warned - it can be annoying. Like other reviewers, I'm guilty of accidentally tapping the rear touch screen and thus making a terrible shot on goal. I got used to it after three games, though. If you hate it, you can turn it off.

Overall, I think the rear touch screen is the most innovative feature, something that has certainly opened the door for more creative gameplay. I would like to slit throats with it.

The Official Verdict: 4 out of 5

This review is based on a purchase by the author.

Bonus Content, or a Vita Wishlist:

The Vita has so much room to grow, and among that growth I hope to see:

- Full support for PS3 Games

- Skype

- YouTube/ Video Sharing

- Adobe Flash

- A Faster Web Browser

- Camera that Makes Me Look Like Brad Pitt 

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