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?
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.
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).
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!