Useful Notes: PlayStation Vita

aka: Playstation Vita

Sony's successor to the PlayStation Portable. It makes use of a multi-touch screen though has traditional controls in addition. It also continues on with the portable Augmented Reality concept first used by the PSP. It debuted at the beginning of 2011 in a private press conference by Sony and the official name (Vita) was bestowed to the system at E3 2011.

With their two most recent systems falling below expectations in terms of sales, Sony decided to pull out all the stops:

  • Instead of using the highly custom console technology that the PS3 uses, the Vita uses common smartphone technology. This makes game development easier, considering most developers are already familiar with the technology and they are able to use assets from existing hardware ranging from home consoles to smartphones.
  • This is the first widely-available dual analog handheld, addressing a flaw experienced on the PSP.
  • In reaction to the growing small casual downloadable game market (such as iOS and Android), Vita features are similar to smartphones, such as a touch screen and motion sensor. Sony will also provide PlayStation Mobile, which will allow users connectivity between the Vita and a smartphone/tablet and essentially letting developers put their games onto it for freenote .
  • The Vita is Sony's first system to use flashcards instead of optical disks for game distribution. Game flashcards are currently able to hold up to 64 GB of information.
  • The price is $199 for both the Wi-Fi only model and for the model with 3G support.

The system is also quite powerful, with output not too far behind the PS3 in some cases.

Another feature of the hardware is the inclusion of a touch-sensitive pad on the back of the system. The first application was shown at the debut of the system demonstrating Nathan Drake of Uncharted climbing a vine. Sliding your fingers down the touch pad would cause Nate to ascend the vine. The system also sports an OLED screennote  at a resolution of 960×544.

The PS Vita has a battery life of 2-5 hours depending on the system's settings.

The console doesn't have internal memory, it must be bought separately, in the format of a Sony Memory Stick, a new type of memory stick which so far is exclusive to the Vita; the PRO and DUO Memory Sticks used by the PSP don't work with it.note 

The system supports "Cross Play," a cloud saving system allowing gamers to take up and continue their console games on their Vita using the same save file. Games that support this are almost always "Cross Buy" titles as well, meaning that buying them on either PS3 or Vita entitles users to a copy on the other platform as well. Additionally, another 1 GB of cloud save storage has been added for Playstation Plus members as of November 2012.

When it was released in Japan, on December 17th, 2011, it did well for a week but lost 3/4ths of its sales numbers the next, being outsold on Christmas week not just by its main competition, the Nintendo 3DSnote , but by the original PSP as well. International figures have been similar, with an impressive start and almost nonexistent sales afterwards. Sales tend to noticeably spike around the time a major title is released, only to die back down in the weeks afterwards. Since a February 28th price cut in Japan from 24,980 yen to 19,980 yen, that region's sales have proving more consistently stable.

Following the footsteps of the PlayStation 2 and early versions of the PlayStation 3, the Vita is backwards compatible with PSP games, though only downloadable games purchased from the Play Station Network are supported. Sony also plans to make all PS4 games playable on the PS Vita via their recently acquired Gakai cloud service, but how this Remote Play will actually work remains to be seen (and previous experiments in PSP and PS Vita Remote Play ran poorly, though it appears that the PS Vita was designed specifically with such PS4 connectivity in mind)

The closest thing it has to exclusive Killer Apps, in both Japan and the US, so far are Gravity Rush, Tearaway, and Persona 4: Golden.

Sony also released a version of the PS Vita called the Vita TV in Japan on November 14th, 2013. A "micro console" that can play PS Vita and PS+ games on the television with the use of a Dual Shock 3 as the controller as well as stream PS4 games onto a different television through wi-fi. The device's primary purpose is to form a foothold for Sony into the multifunction streaming device (Apple TV, Roku Box, etc.) market in the Eastern markets, where living room streaming admittedly has less of a foothold.

Sony also announced just before the Tokyo Game Show 2013 a second version of PS Vita (model PCH-2000) that is both 20% thinner and 15% lighter, comes in several colors, and replaces the OLED with an LCD screen.

Technical specifications

  • The CPU is a quad core 32-bit ARM Cortex-A9 MPCore that can run up to 2.0 GHz, however, the CPU only runs at 1.25 GHz to save battery life. Despite being 32-bit, it does come with a plethora of nice features.
  • The GPU is a quad core PowerVR SGX543+ running at 800 MHz.

  • 512 MB of general purpose RAM
  • 128 MB of video RAM
  • The PCH-2000 model has 1GB of internal storage.
  • External data is saved onto proprietary memory cards, not the more commonly used (but not quite common) MemorySticks used in the PlayStation Portable. Comes in sizes of 4 GB up to 64 GBnote .
  • Vita games come in game cartridges, like the DS and 3DS. Games may reserve some space for save files or patches.

  • The 5" OLED display has a resolution of 960x566 with a 16.7 million color output
    • The PCH-2000 model uses an LCD instead.
  • The GPU makes 140 million triangles and 4 gigapixels per second per core. Totaling all that up puts this at 560 million triangles and 16 gigapixels per second.
    • Polygon wise this puts it worse than the PS3 ( 560 million versus 800 million per second). However, you probably will be hard pressed to notice any issues with polygonal edges because of the smaller resolution.
    • Fillrate wise this is much better than the PS3 ( 16 gigapixels versus 6.8 gigapixels per second).

  • Two touch interfaces, one on the screen, the other on the back.
  • Two cameras, one on the front, the other on the back.
  • Accelerometer for motion sensing
  • 802.11n wireless
  • Bluetooth 2.1
  • The 2200mAH battery is rated for about 3-5 hours of game time.
  • The PCH-2000 model adds a USB Micro port and about an additional hour of battery life.


Alternative Title(s):

Play Station Vita