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E3 2011 PSVita Hands On

Developer: Sony | Publisher:
Players: | Genre: Hardware

Release Date: Winter 2011

We got our hands on the newly named PSVita after Sony's Press Conference. Sony released several details about their newest handheld but left many questions for us to speculate about.

On release date, Sony offered a "Holiday 2011" launch for Vita. When I questioned them about if this was meant for the Japanese market only, I was told that Sony is trying for a worldwide release this year. If they can pull it off, that will cause a serious problem for Nintendo's 3DS sales during the Holiday of 2011. 

In the most surprising announcement of the night, Sony revealed that PlayStation Vita will come in two configurations: Wifi only and Wifi/3G. The 3G service pricing has not been revealed but AT&T will be providing the service. A groan of pain went through the capacity Press Conference crowd when AT&T was mentioned as the provider. The good news is that Sony is pricing the PSVita at the same $249.99 price for the Wifi model. the 3G version will retail for $299.99 and also provide access to the multitude of AT&T Hotspots. For those of you with other AT&T devices, the company has said that they will soon offer a "Family Data Plan" so you can share a data package between all of your devices.

The PSVita features most of the hardware that Sony originally announced. A few features, like the HDMI port, have been removed to reduce costs. Internally, Sony has pumped in plenty of technology to make this console superior for years to come. There is a OLED screen that is sharp and crisp, bight and beautiful, and viewable at any angle. 

The Vita also features a very responsive front touch panel. I really liked the way Uncharted utilized this. Players can tap on the screen, on the ammo icon, to reload the ammo, click on enemies to perform melee attacks, and run your finger across ledges to automatically climb to other areas. 

Developers can also also choose to take advantage of the back touch panel. In my hands on time with PSVita, I can't say how much I appreciate this due to it being a new type of control interface. In time, I am sure that I would get comfortable with how to old the device and utilize the feature.

The PSVita also features an accelerometer, twin analog sticks, and the normal assortment of face and shoulder buttons found on the PlayStation Portable. My biggest problem, with the face buttons, is probably due to my lack of time on the new handheld.  During my hands on time, I constantly wanted to push the second analog stick in place of the X button.  Quizzing other nearby media, they too said the same thing.  Hopefully this will be something that users can adjust to once they have some more hands on time with the platform.

PSVita is not nearly as heavy as the PlayStation Portable. The screen, sizing in at 7" in a thing of beauty. No words or images can really take the place of seeing it in person. This is similar to explaining the 3D effect of the 3DS.  In addition to the surprising lack of weight, I found the screen to be the perfect size. 

Vita feels very sturdy and doesn't appear to be nearly as fragile as the PSP was. We are looking forward to getting more time with this handheld in the future and are keeping our fingers crossed for a 2011 release in the North American market.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 06/06/11

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