PlayStation Vita

The PlayStation Vita (PS Vita) is a handheld video game console manufactured by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was released in Japan and parts of Asia on December 17, 2011; in Europe, North America, South America, and Singapore on February 22, 2012; and on February 23, 2012 in Australia.

It was rumored as early as July 7, 2009, that there would be a successor to the PlayStation Portable. Eurogamer released a report stating that Sony was working on a device using a PowerVR SGX543MP processor that performs similar to the original Xbox.

On July 7, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported that Sony was in the development of a device that “shares characteristics of game machines, e-book readers and netbook computers.” Several sites, as well as Electronic Arts and Nikkei confirmed the existence of this new handheld and Sony Computer Entertainment Worldwide Studios did indeed admit it was in development. Other rumors emerged that development kits had already been shipped to developers.

On November 17, 2010, VG247 released pictures of a prototype version of this new device. It looked similar to the PSP Go. It had two analog sticks, two cameras, and a microphone. On December 22, 2010 Sony stated in an interview with The New York Times that the new system would impress gamers in the handheld market by using a combination of touch screens and buttons instead of a touch screen only.

The code name for the device was announced on January 27, 2011 as Next Generation Portable. On June 6, 2011 Sony announced that the new name for the device would be the PlayStation Vita. Vita was chosen for the name because it means life in Latin.

The device is oval shaped with a five-inch OLED capacitive touchscreen centrally located on the unit. It has two analog sticks, a D-pad, standard PlayStation face buttons, two Shoulder buttons, a Start button and a Select Button.

It has a 2Ghz quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore processor, 512 MB RAM and 128 MB VRAM. It also has a rear touch pad, two cameras (front and rear), stereo speakers, microphone, motion sensing system, a three-axis electronic compass, built-in GPS receiver on the 3G version only, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

There were two versions released, one with 3G and Wi-Fi, and a cheaper version with Wi-Fi only. The 3G network service used is NTT DoCoMo in Japan, AT&T in the US, Rogers in Canada and Vodafone in Europe and Australia.

The Vita does not have video output or a removable battery. The battery life is 3-5 hours with no network or sound and using the default brightness level. Five hours of video, and up to nine hours of music, but with the screen turned off. An external battery option is available, and the Vita has a media slot for extra storage as well as a PS Vita card slot.

The Vita game card is a flash memory card that is similar than an SD card. Some media and games require a Vita memory card to be used. A maximum of 100 applications can be store on a card. When the maximum is reached, applications need to be removed if further storage is needed. Vita memory cards are available in 4, 8, 16, and 32 GB sizes.

As of August 15, 2013 there are 243 games available for the Vita. They are available by flash storage or downloadable from the PlayStation Store. The Vita can also play some games from the PSP, PS, PS Mini, and PS Mobile, and will be able to play PS 4 games through Remote Play.

Currently PS One Classic games are not compatible with the Vita, but it has been announced that in the future they will be.

Some applications available for the Vita include, Facebook, Skype, Netflix, Twitter, and Foursquare from the PlayStation Store. Other applications are Music Unlimited, Flickr, YouTube, Hulu Plus and Crackle.

Accessories available for the Vita include memory cards, cases, power supplies, chargers, and head sets.

Image Caption: The PlayStation Vita handheld gaming system. Credit: Tokyoship/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)