Last night we attended the SterKinekor’s lavish Playstation Vita launch at Randlords in Braamfontein. While rubbing shoulders with the local gaming industry’s “who’s who” and special guests like The Verge’s Pippa Tshabalala and AKA is an event on its own, the Playstation Vita took centre stage.

The view over Jozi from Randlords

A few Vita’s were fired up and previewed to the press to get their hands on the new impressive portable console. My overall impression, albeit not a decisive conclusion, was an overall positive one – the portable left a big impression on me.

The Playstation Vita as a Gadget

We live in an age where technology is king, and cross-over technology is what we seek. Our gadgets multitask, juggling function with entertainment and while Sony have been clear on the fact that the Playstation Vita will be primarily a gaming device – the social and entertainment features had to be a given in the modern techno-world, and that it is.

The Vita ships with Wi-Fi capabilities and a 3G model is a more expensive option. Users can surf the net, connect to all the regular social media as we can with our PC’s, mobiles, tablets etc. The Vita has no match in the portable gaming device market when it comes to the technology it ships with and the possibilities. Because of this, the device might be primarily geared towards core gamers, but can open up the gaming world to the casual thanks to the extensive possibilities that the Vita caters for.

The Technical Bits

The Playstation Vita looks mostly like its predecessor, but is larger and generally more impressive looking thanks to the swish design. The 5 inch OLED screen boasts a 960 x 544 resolution and everyone agrees on the graphics looking superb.

The dual-analogue sticks were a welcomed new addition, opening up the FPS functionality. The front touch-screen provides a new dimension of how we play games as does the rear touch-screen. The overall ergonomics make the Vita fit like a glove, within minutes the console felt familiar.

The smartphone-like OS works well and has been praised by early reviewers – the ease of navigation is an absolute pleasure as is the prompt responsiveness of the OS. With a slide of the finger over the screen, you flip through the pages or menus unlocking the Vita’s impressive ability to multitask.

The stunning design won most over, with only the Vita’s durability being questioned. Small design aspects raised concerns – like the small analogue sticks and the glass-like shoulder buttons. Sony has stated that the manufacturer is confident in the build quality and the Vita is a durable piece of kit. If the predecessor is anything to by we should have no issues.

Vita Home Screen

The Games

The games I was hoping to get my hands on were unfortunately not available to preview – F1 2001, Uncharted Abyss and Wipeout 2048. I did get my hands on Fifa which I have tons of experience with on console to make an apt comparisson. Fifa almost instantly felt familiar, like the game that I know and love on the Vita’s big brother console. Once I adapted to the slightly different button configuration, it was business as usual. I also tried RC Motorstorm which was an absolute blast as was the more casual Everybody’s Golf.

It hasn’t been since the 80’s and a dual-screened Donkey Kong portable console that playing on a portable device has appealed to me. The games and the consoles that you would play them on didn’t feature all the functionality that I am used to with the home consoles. The games and their portable devices were always a downgrade that I was not willing to take for the sake of portability.

This is where the Vita really shines, the control layout and the fact that all the controls are available almost as I am used to, makes the Vita not seem like a downgrade. Then the impressive screen displaying graphics leaning heavily towards what I am used to makes it a visual treat too, again, making the experience not look like a ‘gimped’ version of what I expect from a gaming experience.

The RC cars on bombastic tracks

A Lasting Impression

When you’re holding the PS Vita in your hands and summing up all the features, the price makes a little more sense. While Sony are adamant that the Vita is primarily a ‘gaming console’, the extra features help justify the pricing. The PS Vita is an extraordinarily capable device with the emphasis on gaming, but with a host of welcomed features we expect with modern tech.

So as a core gamer my initial thoughts are very positive based on the hardware and on the titles available at launch… but all eyes on coming announcements.

A special thanks to SterKinekor for an exciting launch to introduce us to the Playstation Vita.

*More photos of the event to follow*

Continue to see specs and local pricing…

CPU       ARM® Cortex™- A9 core (4 core)
GPU      SGX543MP4+
External Dimensions       Approx. 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm (width x height x depth)(tentative, excludes largest projection)
Screen (Touch Screen)    5 inches (16:9), 960 x 544, Approx. 16 million colors, OLED Multi touch screen (capacitive type)
Rear Touch Pad
Multi touch pad (capacitive type)
Cameras      Front camera, Rear camera
Sound      Built-in stereo speakers
Built-in microphone
Sensors     Six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer), Three-axis electronic compass
Location Built-in GPS Wi-Fi  location service support
Keys / Switches      PS button Power button Directional buttons (Up/Down/Right/Left) Action buttons (Triangle, Circle, Cross, Square) Shoulder buttons (Right/Left) Right stick, Left stick START button, SELECT button
Volume buttons (+/-)
Wireless Communications    Mobile network connectivity (3G)  IEEE 802.11b/g/n (n = 1×1)(Wi-Fi)(Infrastructure mode/Ad-hoc mode)
Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (A2DP/AVRCP/HSP)

Software and Hardware pricing is as follows:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss – R549
  • Mod Nation Racers: Road Trip – R449
  • Everybody’s Golf – R449
  • Wipeout 2048 – R449
  • Unit 13 – R449
  • Little Deviants – R349
  • Reality Fighters – R349

PS Vita memory cards are available in three sizes and will be priced at the following:

  • 4Gb Memory Card – R199
  • 8Gb Memory Card – R349
  • 16Gb Memory Card – R499

Peripheral pricing at launch:

  • AC adaptor – R149
  • Portable charger – R499
  • In-ear headset – R299
  • Starter kit – R199

The PlayStation Vita will launch with a 3G and Wi-Fi version at R3599 and R2999 respectively from 22nd February 2012.