Saturday, June 02, 2012

PlayStation Vita Impressions

When I first picked up Sony's PlayStation Vita, I admit that I was worried I'd made a bad purchase, but to be completely blunt, I'm extremely impressed with it thus far.

The product is sleek and clean looking and it feels both solid and comfortable in the hands.  The majority of the buttons and both sticks are laid out quite well and are easy to access without accidentally hitting one other.  The only exceptions would be the "Select" and "Start" buttons which are placed in an awkward spot at the bottom right of the handheld, and the buttons themselves are a little too recessed which makes them a bit more difficult to use.  The handheld itself is also a finger print magnet, which is a bit of a shame but not uncommon for a portable device.

The setup was relatively painless save for the Initial Setup Loop that I got stuck in, but the problem is well documented and the solution quite simple.  The Settings menu is easy to find, navigate, and configure, and within a short period of time I was connected to my Wifi access point and ready to properly experience the handheld.

Now, the PlayStation Vita is the first touchscreen device I've had the privilege of owning, and I'm loving the use of the screen for navigating pretty much everything over using the D-pad and sticks.  I personally find the 5' OLED screen crisp and gorgeous, and it does indeed respond well to the touch.  I also love how the Home screen isn't plastered with a ridiculous amount of ads, or any ads at all for that matter; it's concise and to the point.

Out of the box, the PlayStation Vita comes with several apps, including a simple and quick little tutorial.  There's an app for managing your PlayStation Network Friends and another app for Parties and Chat (and cross-game chat is supported over PlayStation Network with the PlayStation Vita).  There's an app for Trophies, an app for the PlayStation Store (which is well laid out and very easy to navigate), as well as a web browser app, a Camera app, a Video app, etc.

Surfing the web is simple and straight forward and I've had no issues going to any site I've needed to thus far, and load times aren't too bad at all.  The only apps I haven't really tinkered with at this point are the ones that involve location data; the Near and Maps apps.  Personally, I don't want Sony and Google tracking where I am at any given point, so you'll need to look elsewhere for other's thoughts on those particular apps.

The camera's pretty basic, both front and back, and its picture quality isn't amazing but it does get the job done.  I do like how you can easily take screenshots in-game though, unless the game itself specifically restricts this.

The built-in speakers project crisp, clean audio and headphones sound just as clear, and when all is said and done you get anywhere between three to five hours out of the battery, depending on what you're doing.

You can also back-up your PlayStation Vita's save files by connecting it to your PC after installing some proprietary software, and the back up process, as well as transferring photos, music, and movies, is all pretty straight forward.

Now being a gaming handheld the primary thing to look at is the available games, and right now the selection is a bit sparse.  I primarily purchased the PlayStation Vita to give me something to enjoy on my commute, and that something is Mortal Kombat, a game I'm far too addicted to.  On the PlayStation Vita, even though visually it's taken a hit from consoles, it plays wonderfully and at a full 60 FPS.  I can and have practiced my combos and then gone and executed them flawlessly on my Xbox 360, which makes this version of the game a great companion to the console experience.  This has proven a great and productive way to pass my commute, and hopefully we'll see some other quality titles announced at this year's E3.

Thus far, I'm very happy with my purchase.  The PlayStation Vita is a very handy and useful device for games and more, and it's already provided me with hours of solid entertainment.

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