Sony PlayStation Vita Review

Foursquare

This app works very well.  I was able to use it to check in from the airports between home and Sydney (using AT&T 3G in the US and wifi in Australia), follow the check-ins of my friends, and explore nearby highlights.  Foursquare works as well as on my iPad or Droid 2 cellphone.

Flickr

Flickr works well for uploading photos from the Vita, and this is probably your best bet for sharing photos and screen shots.  However, there is a bug when reading photos from the online service.  When I click on a loaded photo, I get the message “An error has occurred in the following application C2-12828-1 Flickr” and the photo fails to load; this happens about 80% of the time.  The app then needs to be restarted.  If they can fix this, Flickr will be a great app to use with the Vita.

LiveTweet

LiveTweet is a really nice Twitter app.  Tweets, mentions, direct messages, and lists are all supported.  Here is what it looks like:

LiveTweet

I have not used either Netflix or Music Unlimited as I don’t have accounts for either service, but would expect these to work fine.

Note that Skype is missing. I would really like to see a Skype app that allowed me to make video calls as that would really make it easy for me to take this with me on business trips.

Games and Game Play

I have played several games on the Vita so far; here are my impressions of each.

  • Drake’s Uncharted: Golden Abyss: This is an extension of the Drake’s series from the PS3 and was a launch title.  Gameplay makes great use of the rear touchpad, as well as the front screen, the analog controls, the tilt capability and the onboard camera.  This is a very fun and immersive game and really shows the Vita’s capabilities well.  Here are some screenshots from Drake’s:

Drake's 1Drake's 2Drake's 3

  • MLB The Show 2012: This baseball game is another good match for the Vita.  You can play on the Vita while on the go and resume play and seasons on the PS3.
  • Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational: This golf game allows you to play courses around the world.  It requires you to line up shots correctly, apply the right amount of power, and to read the greens correctly when putting.  This is a fun game with really good gameplay on the Vita.
  • Little Deviants: This game highlights the control features of the Vita, with one level integrating the camera and another requiring you to use the rear touchpad and the tilt function to push a ball around the screen, for example.  I like this game, and my nine-year-old daughter loves it!
  • Hustle King: This is a pool and billiards game, and requires you to line up shots and make good use of the table sides.  This game also support cross-play with the PS3 and is a fun game.

The combination of the 5” screen, the rear touchpad and the analog sticks on either side of the device make for engaging gameplay.

Battery life was not great; I got about 3.5 hours of battery life when gaming and about 5 hours when playing videos back.  This is OK, but I’d prefer closer to six hours when gaming.

Overall Assessment

The Vita is a serious overall gaming system.  I prefer the graphics and overall layout to the PSP and to the Nintendo DS.  Video playback is great when using h.264/AAC3 encoded videos, and when combined with the ability to rent videos from the PlayStation Store, this is a seriously capable device.

I recently took a business trip to Australia and tossed it into my carry-on bag.  Boy, did it come in handy on the LAX-SYD 12.5 hour flight!  When teamed up with my Beats headphones, I had hours of gaming and video playback at my fingertips, and I had fun using the Foursquare app Down Under.  Seeing the Vita calculate the 15,000 mile trip in Near was amusing.  This device will be in my bag on my next business trip!

The release games are compelling, and I recently also added MLB The Show.  I’ve just started it but already am impressed with the gameplay.  If Sony continues to add compelling games, like Call of Duty and Grand Tourismo, then this platform will continue to have relevance for mobile gamers.

I like the ability to download games completely to the data card from the PS Store.  No need to wait for a Best Buy to open to buy a new game, and with the ability to back up games and scores to your PS3 or PC/Mac with Content Manager, you can minimize the risk of losing the downloaded game and score data.

Overall, the camera is underwhelming and I’d prefer that the data cards be less expensive, but I love the Vita and recommend it highly.

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