Sony PlayStation Vita review

An absolutely fantastic handheld that's ideal for anyone left feeling hollow from gaming on a smartphone

12 Feb 2012
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This review is for the original PlayStation Vita, it's still available and has a fantastic OLED screen, but also consider reading our PS Vita Slim review of its replacement.

Sony knows its way around a games console – the electronics giant has seen incredible success for more than a decade with the PlayStation, PS2 and PS3, but has so far struggled to break into the handheld market dominated by its rival Nintendo. Its first attempt, the PSP, was by no means a failure, but it couldn’t match the phenomenal success of the DS. Sony hasn’t taken this defeat lying down, and in just a few short weeks the PlayStation Vita will be going on sale in the UK.

The Vita improves on just about every part of the PSP, adding new input devices, a higher quality screen, Bluetooth and 3G wireless connectivity, PSN integration, more powerful graphics and a huge selection of launch titles that look almost as good as their home console counterparts. We’ve spent some quality time with the Vita, and while we can’t talk about its launch games until the console goes on sale, we’ve still managed to bring you an in-depth hardware review of what to expect on the 22nd of February.


Built from a combination of matt and glossy plastics, the Vita looks stunning from almost any angle. Glass covers much of the front of the unit, giving it a much sleeker appearance than the PSP. It doesn’t take a lot of use for fingerprint smears to appear, so a cloth might be needed to keep it looking pristine. The four face buttons, two shoulder buttons and directional pad are made from plastic, as are the twin analog sticks, but they feel much more responsive than the PSPs loose ones. The buttons are a little on the small side, so larger hands may struggle to press each one individually, but they feel bouncy and responsive.

PS Vita Front

It retains the shape of the PSP and is only slightly larger in size, but at around 260g, the Vita is heavier than all three PSP versions. However, unlike Sony’s first handheld, there are no signs of flex or weak materials. This is primarily due to the lack of a disc tray, which was a structural weakness.

There are two memory card slots – one for the proprietary memory cards used to store your game saves, photos, music, downloaded games and settings, and one for the game cards that replace the PSP’s UMD discs. You’ll have the option of buying your games from shops, or downloading them using the PlayStation network. Once you fill your memory card, you can back up your games to a PC or Mac, so you won’t need multiple memory cards to keep all your games.

PS Vita ports

A 3.5mm headphone jack sits next to the proprietary USB port at the bottom of the unit – it’s used to connect the Vita to a PC and to charge its battery. You can’t charge from any USB port, because there isn’t enough power, so you’ll have to use the supplied AC to USB adaptor.

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