Useful Notes / 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 previous 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, as the original PSP, despite selling reasonably well, suffered from numerous problems caused by its use of optical discs that are detailed on it's own Useful Notes page. Game flashcards are currently able to hold up to 64 GB of information.
  • The launch price is $249 for the Wi-Fi only model (the same initial price as its competitor, the Nintendo 3DS) and $299 for the model with 3G support.

While not as powerful as the PlayStation 3, games for the Vita do boast similar visuals, with certain titles being decent if not one-to-one ports of their home console counterparts - the Vita port of Criterion Games' Need for Speed: Most Wanted was acclaimed for being largely unabridged, save for less complex lighting and lower-resolution textures.

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 original version of the console has no internal memory, but external memory in the form of a proprietary Sony Memory Stick, a new type of memory stick exclusive to the Vita; as the sticks are modified microSD cards, previous PRO and DUO Memory Sticks used by the PSP could not work with it.note 

The system also supports "Cross Play," a cloud saving system that allowed 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 one version included a copy on the other platform as well. Following the footsteps of the PlayStation 2 and early versions of the PlayStation 3, the Vita is backwards compatible with PSP games, though only through downloadable games purchased from the Play Station Network are supported. Sony later updated the firmware to allow PS4 games playable on the PS Vita via Remote Play over a wireless network.

The closest thing it has to exclusive Killer Apps, in both Japan and the US, so far are Gravity Rush (ported to PS4), Tearaway (also ported to PS4), and Persona 4: Golden (a port of a PS2 game).

Pre-release reception heralded the Vita as the Nintendo Killer. Combined with the Nintendo 3DS's lackluster debut, the power gap between the two and multimedia capabilities seemed substantial enough for gaming press to once again consider Sony's handheld the obvious consumer buy, just as they did with the PSP before it. And when it was released in Japan on December 17th, 2011, it perform well for its debut week... before losing 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. Thankfully, a Japanese price cut a few months later from 24,980 yen to 19,980 yen allowed that region's sales to recover and establish the system as a decent seller in its home countrynote . However, the West was a different story. Sales proved nonexistent following its launches in North America and Europe, leading many publishers outside Japan (including SCEA themselves) to all but cease creating games for it. Yet, the Vita maintains a small but devoted fanbase in non-Japanese markets, remaining relevant thanks to its PS4 companion features, and the device still sees a good amount of support from indie developers and even Square-Enixnote . Unfortunately, Sony has no plans on a successor in the near future.

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 DualShock 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 multi-function streaming device (Apple TV, Roku Box, etc.) market in the Eastern markets, where living room streaming admittedly has less of a foothold. Due to low sales, however, it was renamed PlayStation TV outside Japan to avoid association with the Vita.

The Vita TV was later released for North American and European audiences in 2014 as the PlayStation TV, or as fans call it, the PSTV.

The PSTV is controlled with either the DualShock 3 (used for the PS3) or the DualShock 4 controller used on the PS4; small as a stack of cards and better fitting in pockets than most cell phones, this HDMI device plays Vita games and downloads, compatible with VITA memory cards and can emulate the touchscreen to an extent. Sadly, a fair chunk of VITA games are not compatible with itnote , though a large collection of PS1/PSN games are downloadable and compatible with it.

Sony also produced a second version of PS Vita (model PCH-2000) in 2013 that was both 20% thinner and 15% lighter, came in several colours, had 1GB of storage for small games and media, and replaced the OLED with an LED screen.

Compared to the PS3 and PSP, the hacking/homebrew scene for the Vita family was limited and made slow progress for years due to the locked-down nature of the hardware and software. This all changed however in July 2016. The firmware v3.60-exclusive Henkaku system hack finally allowed unsigned code to be run freely and is very simple to install straight from the internet browser. Several notable developments have resulted from this. The Retroarch multi-console emulator was ported to the Vita, giving good support for all consoles up to and including the PSX (and they're working on the N64!). Vita Shell is a comprehensive file manager, allowing access to all partitions of the systemnote , a FTP for transferring files wirelessly and a USB functionality to allow direct access to the memory card on your PC for the Vita (but not the PSTV)note . It used to be necessary to use one of those methods to transfer .VPK homebrew files to the Vita, but an ingenious program named Vita Homebrew Loader allows for direct downloads of said files to the device. Similarly, a simple plugin allows for more unconfined downloading via the internet browser, for example for classic Genesis ROMs.

The Adrenaline custom PSP firmware program allows the entire PSP OS (including the ubiquitous X Cross Media Bar interface) to be emulated on the Vita, essentially allowing you to do anything within that environment that you could with a regular PSP. For now, Henkaku has been relying on a browser re-install every time the system is rebooted, but the Enso variant has been unleashed to allow permanance of the system modification and removing the requirement to use the browsernote . Finally and perhaps most significantly, two important developments have occurred to tackle the notorious problem with overpriced memory cards (and their reportedly occasional failure rate). On the PSTV side, the USB port has been harnessed to provide this form of storage media via Vita Shell (but note that hard drives must be externally powered for example by a Y-splitter cable)note .

More generally, the Vita gamecard format is being tinkered with to allow micro-SD cards to be mounted in a card reader, known as "SD2Vita". These readers have progressed from crude prototypes to full-on duplicates of the gamecard board, allowing them to fit flush and pretty in the game slot. This represents a several-fold increase in value when you compare like-to-like prices, R/W speeds and the ease of interface access of Sony and micro-SD card storage, and is essentially limited in capacity only by the constraints of the format note . If you're concerned about these devices preventing gamecards from being played, it's possible to use a plugin to switch the ux0 (primary) and uma0 (secondary/backup) partitions back and forth between the official Sony card and SD2Vita, allowing you to use the Sony card for gamecard installs and saves note . All in all, with Sony more or less abandoning official support for the Vita, the homebrew scene is thriving and breathing new life into the scene alongside the developers which are still making official games for the console.

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. Compute performance for the GPU is far worse than the PS3's Reality Synthesizernote  at 28.4 GFLOPS versus 228.8 for the RSX.

  • 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 GB, with Read and Write rates equivalent to Class-2 and Class-4 SD cards.
  • 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): PS Vita