Reader Review: The PS Vita

Have you bought a PS Vita yet? Are you contemplating making the investment? Kotaku reader Ben Latimore has gotten his hands on Sony's new portable console and here are his thoughts on the shiny handheld device that everyone is talking about.

PS Vita: Hardware Review

It has finally arrived, the most powerful portable gaming system on the planet, sporting advanced hardware, an incredible amount of ways to interact with games and one of the most beautiful screens on a handheld device. But does the Vita's hardware hold up to snuff or fall apart in your hands?

Loved:

Screen: Big, beautiful, bright and lovely. I've never seen a screen like this before, it just looks so nice, especially with a good game like Uncharted.

The touch screen is also impressively accurate, and the official screen protector works a treat. Colours pop, the animation is incredibly smooth and images/video play impressively. I haven't seen a screen this nice since the Samsung Galaxy S II, and that's a damn tough mark to beat.

D-Pad: This is honestly the best, most sensitive and comfortable D-Pad I have ever used on a game system, easily outweighing the DS, original PSP, DualShock 2 and even the OpenPandora/iControlPad’s (yes I have owned both) D-pads in sensitivity. It's easy to get used to and you'll be tapping directions like a DDR machine the minute you pick it up. Works great for repeated taps and single taps; just outdoes anything else I've ever held, full stop.

Analog Sticks: Now, THIS is the correct way to give your system analog sticks. The sticks jut out just the right amount and have a surface that’s easy to grip, your fingers can move around with ease but never accidentally slip. They tilt a fair bit less than you would expect (imagine between halfway / a third of the full Dualshock tilt) but it is surprisingly easy to get used to. They work great for all genres, especially shooters, as the Unit 13 demo on PSN demonstrates.

They're really great sticks and I'd love to give them a run on some PSX classics.

Battery Life: I've found that the Vita can last on battery for about 4 hours. There's a reason I put this in Loved and not Hated. I played a multiplayer game on my friend's 3DS – with maxed-out brightness, wi-fi switched on and sound turned up – and the battery only lasted two hours. Only two. My Vita can go for twice as long with all connections (Wifi/3G/Bluetooth) active, brightness at max and sound blaring. It's a lot better than most modern-day gaming peripherals (smartphones included) and it deserves a big nod for that.

Hated:

Triggers: One change that set the Vita back compared to the PSP the L and R shoulder buttons. They're a lot less solid and more bouncy compared to the PSP, which can lead to missed or unregistered presses if you don't press them hard enough. The PSP gives give a solid click whenever you hit the button correctly, and the Vita triggers give off a smaller, harder to hear click, and sometimes you can press the trigger in such a way that the system doesn't recognise the button press while still making the audible click. It's especially annoying in a game like Lumines where I use the R trigger a LOT and run into this quite often.

Big Hand Disease: Unfortunately, unlike the PSP, the PS Vita seems to be designed for people with small hands. During my travels with it I have found several parts which don't seem to help people with big hands - my hands at natural rest cover up the speakers, the start/select buttons are too small for my big fingers to hit precisely and quickly, sometimes my hand can slip and press the analog stick when I mean to press X (this is much more of a problem on PSP games), and those indents where you're supposed to rest your fingers eventually make my hands tired, leading me to readjust my grip. If you have big hands I would suggest some 3rd party grip accessories (like the Nyko Power Grip or the PDP triggers).

<h3.Verdict

Overall I'm pretty happy with the Vita's build quality; there are plenty of things to gawk over but big-handed people may need to grab an accessory or two to tough it out for a long marathon. This is the first in a number of Vita reviews I have lined up — stay tuned for the software and game reviews!

Do you agree with Ben? If you haven't bought a Vita yet, has Ben's review swayed you? Let us know!


Comments

    I actually thought the Vita catered very well to my large-ish hands. Not as comfortable as the PSPgo, but infinitely less crampy than the original PSP and 3DS. Agree with your other sentiments though.

    Keep the reviews coming, man!

    I agree completely with all the positives and the negatives. My hands feel a little cramped after playing FIFA for a while, but it's worth it! I'm interested in trying one of those trigger-grip setups.

    So... close... to... buying....but...pile...of.....shame....and....guilt.......aaaaaargh!!!

      Proposed solution: Trade in pile of shame towards the Vita :D

        But my p.o.s has skyward sword in it...

        Honestly I just want a Vita because the hardware is sexy, ATM I'd probably just play psp games on it due to never having a Psp. Maybe I should wait for the killer app whatever that will be.

          I'm not a huge Uncharted fan, but Golden Abyss is just amazing to behold. If that isn't a killer app, my hopes for this system will grow ever stronger.

          That being said, upscaled PSP games look amazing on the Vita. God of War: Chains of Olympus almost looks up to Vita standard. It's the total package, even if the UI has so far proved to be a little unfriendly.

    I totally agree, but as much as I'm loving it there are a few software issues which annoy me:

    • It needs a battery charge percentage indicator.
    • The interface is pretty ugly (tacky bubbles and colours used)
    • Instead of having an icon for every physical game you own, it should have a dynamic icon which changes according to which card you're using in the Vita. There's no point having an icon for every game you own on card, it just adds clutter and means it takes more steps to open a game. I don't need 10 useless icons floating around.
    • Needs the ability to hide icons or make folders. (In fact, any way to make the Welcome Park icon disappear would be great)
    • The fade to black between home screens is a bad idea, especially when you use the same background for multiple home screens.

    Reader Review: Kotaku AU

    Loved: Closing the browser and thus Kotaku AU with it

    Hated: The fact that Mark and his followers have driven this site into the ground for me... not that Wildgoose was any better.

      Reader Review: ZyklonB

      Loved:

      Z Powah: His name starts with 'Z'. That's pretty badarse, yeah?

      Plan B: He's the second one! Hence the "B". That means there must be some improvements, somewhere!... doesn't it?

      Hated:

      Pointless: Completely pointless comment that seems to be posted within an article that has nothing to do with what he was talking about.

      Brake Change: He seems to be emitting a whiney tone. Suggest that he should be taken in for a service

      Unhelpful: Any comment doesn't provide reasoning as to why he feels the way he feels.

      Hmmm... yes... Shallow AND pedantic... hmmmm

      I'm going to assume this is a troll. I seriously can't believe anyone would have beef with Mark and the Australian team. I've seen very few complaints about the quality of the articles. Hell, they've won awards.

        I like you. You seem smart :)

        Also:

        "Hell, they’ve won awards."
        That made me think of the "I've shot wars, you know" line from Dead Rising.

        Mark Serrels : "I've won awards, you know".

          This has made me wonder - I post here a lot. How the hell do I get a picture?

        The quality of some of the US Kotaku articles leave a bit to be desired, but the Aussie stuff is always top-notch. Funnily enough though, bitching about reviewers/articles seems to be an epidemic impacting all gaming news sites these days.

        Hang on, someone picks the gas used in the holocaust as a username and you wonder *if* they're a troll? Wow.

        As for the topic, Vita looks great, but I'm just not sure exactly when/where you can use it unless you take long journeys on forms of transport where you aren't in control. At least I can have an excuse for having my iPhone on me when I go to the gents...

      Reader Review: Chuloopa

      Loved:

      Wit: Makes fun of douchy commenters by using automobile metaphors.

      Pop Culture references: I also watch Family Guy. Mentioning it makes you cool.

      Hated:

      Confusing username: Not sure if reference to Mexican cuisine or cat just stood on keyboard.

      Tasty username: Makes me want a Chupa Chup.

      I was going to say something here but Loops has beaten me too it.

      And probably a lot more tastefully compared to what I was going to say.

      Really helpful review.

    Had a go with a friend's PSV and gotta agree with the review in regards to the ergonomics.

    PS.
    YAY FOR HAVING SMALL HANDS!!!

    ....now all i need is a vita..

      +1 my comically small hands are loving my vita :p

    I've read so many complaints about how it is bad for people with big hands - but I have huge hands (bigger than anyone I know, seirously, ANYONE I know... I can strech my thumb and pinkie far enough to grib both sides of an iPad...)
    and I never have any problems with my thumb hitting the joystick when im trying to press X or vice versa, or with my hands blocking the speaker.. The only problem I had was my hand sometimes slipped and hit the rear touch panel constituting a mistaken shot or something in FIFA, but I remedied that by holding the Vita in a different - and even more comfortable - way.

    My hands are somewhat large and don't really have too much problem with the vita. Only thing I agree with is that my fingers don't exactly rest on the groves on the back when I hold it.

    Re: Gladice
    On the menu screen if you hold your finger on a blank space, it brings up the edit mode, that allows you to move icons and change backgrounds, you can then shift icons you don't use to another screen. I have a page for icons I don't use, a pagefor apps I do use, one for vita games and one for PSP games. Its quite similar to iphone.

      Thanks, but I'm already doing that. I think it's a fairly inelegant solution though. I think there should be something like an "apps" section in the settings menu which lets you switch icons on and off for each individual app installed. You could also manage data and things from that menu.

    If it were only cheaper then I would be rushing out to stores.

    People with massive hands are going to have to deal with PORTABLE gaming NOT catering to their sausage fingers and saucer palms. It's a reality that these devices must be.... portable.

      Sausage fingers are people too!

        You're only saying that because of the five zeppelin-like appendages on each of your colossal mitts.

          They are my blimp digits.

            Dirigible Digits of doom!

    After holding a friend's Vita in my hands I can concur about the large hands issue. Now mine are not really that big, but in some cases - especially those that require you to hold a button while pressing another, say for example holding "run" while pressing "jump" with your thumb, that I accidentally pressed another one of the face buttons and caused something unintended to happen.

    I feel as if the four face buttons in particular are a little too close together.

    I agree. The start/select are WAY too small. Pausing and unpausing in Wipeout match is horrendous and you are likely to smash into a wall or lose position.

    The triggers are terrible. In Uncharted half the time it won't register that I want to go into aiming mode. Sucks so much :(

    The rest is all great though. The battery lasts longer than my PSP GO too. Its a bloody great system.

    I think some of these people with "large" (read: fat) hands might need to invest in a dialing wand.

      Good simpsons reference, but for better or for worse, not all of us have XX-chromosome dainty "call someone for help opening a jar" hands.

        ack I didn't mean to hit submit so early. There's a difference between fat fingers and large hands. My hands cramp up playing my original PSP because there's simply no comfortable way to hold it.

    To all those considering one
    Get it as you only live once LOL
    and the money is going to a good place
    FOR THE GAMES!

    I have no problems with the ps vita if u don't want any icons just hold it the it will delete second the system has been on for two weeks as of now it is great and only will get better... I have big hands and don't have any problems

    Personally I'm loving my Vita! My only issue so far is the way Near seems to really struggle with WiFi, I've tried four different WiFi connections and Near can't get a position from any of them making it absolutely useless for me. I'm in the skyhook coverage area so I have no idea why it's not working. I tried Sony customer support and they knew less than me about it. I think this might be something they try and sweep under the rug. A feature like spotpass would have been a million times better.

      I think Near works much better on the 3G unit (GPS capabilities)
      I have the 3G model and Near works perfectly (even with the sim off, I think... Will have to check)
      Still not entirely sure how Near works though. I can find people around me and see what they're playing, etc. and I've rated a couple of games with smileys, but it seems really confusing to navigate.

    I'm still yet to figure out how Near works. It's like someone threw up cutesy icons all over a radar.

    I just want it to display people who are playing nearby, tell me what they're playing and let me try to join them.

      Are you using 3G or WiFi with Near? I can't get it working no matter what I do and it's driving me slightly insane. Well a combination of that and my first week back at uni.

        Wifi. Seems to work fine, if the intention was to confuse the hell out of the user.

        I've read the Vita manual all the way through, and read all the help icon screens within Near, and I still don't get it. I usually just click "out and about" and it has "Game X has surged in popularity" or something. And it says "21 players playing nearby". Does that mean right now, or recently? And if I click the icon corresponding to that game, it says "number of people playing - 0". Then I go to discoveries and it says I've discovered 0 players, even though I can see people on the radar. WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS GOING ON?!

        Ben "BlueMaxima" Latimore, I'm really looking forward to your software review.

      I haven't really figured it out either.
      It seems to work perfectly, but I'm still not entirely sure how I'm meant to use it.

        Near desperately needs to be fixed, I have had nothing but problems (worked a couple of times then just started saying "an error has occurred" with no code, formatted the device, worked acouple of times now the same, this also cause all my live screens to think my games are trial version) and it also makes no sense what so ever.

          I haven't had any of those tech issues. Like I said, it works perfectly. I just don't 'get' it.

    I hate to be negative, but I hate the tiny buttons on the Vita. I loved the chunky buttons on the psp alot more. And the analogue sticks are friggin tiny! They don't have much range either, im not excited to play a fps on the Vita like I was. Great machine otherwise.

      Personally I'm happier with smaller clickier buttons than bigger mashy ones.

      I dont agree with the sticks being too small, they are smaller but a lot more sensitive so i dont see them lacking range at all

    Sorry but battery life should be in HATED, just because a crappy battery is better than another crappy battery doesn't make it good, when you guys review games you don't say "this is the second worst game i've ever played, but it's not the worst so +1 to the developers".

    It's interesting that you think the D-pad is great as I hadn't heard anyone mentioning that before and always found the PSP's to be lackluster.

    Also kinda disapointed there was no mention of Price or Size (in terms of fitting in your pocket) which are the things that matter alot to handhelds.

    Overall nice review and its gotten me interesting in buying one once the inevitable price drop occurs :D

      I should have added that the battery actualy provides a lot more graphically than the 3DS does, making it a general better performer. This thing could have lasted the same amount as the 3DS but they decided to jam a big-ass battery in it.

      And the D-Pad is damn good. The PSP's wasn't that good, but my thumb just feels great when using it, don't need to take a break for hour-long Lumines sessions.

      I've honestly spent over $700 on this thing since I got it...more being spent next month too. But I'm going for a huge library (I'll have over 10 games when I get my next batch) so my example is only for a serious gamer.

      For carrying it around in my pocket...haven't tried it yet, to be honest. Expect it to be the only thing to fit in that one pocket though. :P

    "this is honestly the best, most sensitive and comfortable D-Pad I have ever used on a game system, easily outweighing the DS, original PSP, DualShock 2 and even the OpenPandora/iControlPad’s (yes I have owned both) D-pads in sensitivity."

    ............really? I just spent all day playing one, and thought it was loose and horrible. Not as bad as the DS Lite's, but nowhere near as great as the Phat's. Now THAT was a d-pad.

    Also not completely sold on the analogue sticks either, they don't seem to be all that sensitive. Well, they are sensitive in that you push them a hair's width off-axis and they'll pick it up. But it seems to take that to be at least 50% of the full strength available.

      I absolutely love the D-Pad, it's always feels comfortable under my thumb and I can be very precise with it. Much better than the PSP D-Pad for Lumines.

      I still think the analog sticks are really good, since they can be used to play a shooter like Unit 13 or a twin-stick game like Super Stardust Delta without any real problems. Those two games are the best examples I can give, and they have trials.

        Does Unit 13 have a trial on the Australian store? I couldn't see it.

          It was reported crashing Vita's, so it's been removed at this time

            I managed to get it by using Near, finding someone who had it and clicking the PS Store link for it.

    How about the software (UI and other stuff)? I just want to confirm if the Sony Online ID is locked to one user/region or not...

    Actually I felt the vita was too big for my hands. I have small/medium hands

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