NEARLY two years to the day after its Playstation Vita hit the European market, Sony have decided to make good on its successful launch of the Playstation 4 by releasing an updated version of its handheld console.
Playstation Vita Slim
A trim, streamlined update on the 2012 model, it is a powerful and attractive piece of kit that complements the PS4 and offers an appealing alternative to the 3DS.
Although the original Vita struggled at first to acquire a software library the breadth and depth of its Nintendo counterpart, the situation is improving all the time. With critically acclaimed titles like Tearaway shining a spotlight on the platform for its exclusives as well as its technical prowess, the Slim - officially known as the PCH-2000 - enters the marketplace at an opportune time.
The machine’s flagship selling point is its comparatively slender form. Some 3.6 millimetres and 35 grams have been pruned from the original design, figures which may look insignificant, but result in a noticeably slim and slight update. In retrospect, the chassis of the 2012 iteration feels cumbersome. A subtle refinement of the start and select buttons, improved speaker quality and an all-black finish complete the new look.
The most appealing improvements, however, are to be found elsewhere. The best is the use of a conventional micro USB connection for charging, doing away with the proprietary model altogether. For anyone with a smartphone or tablet, the knowledge that the console can be transported around without the need for any cables is hugely liberating.
Improved storage, battery life
Other pleasing additions are 1GB of internal storage - a modest amount, admittedly, but better than none at all - and an improved battery life that offer around an extra hour of playtime. After a full charge, our straight out the box review unit held out for around five and three quarter hours and fifty minutes with Little Big Planet in the card slot.
Using the Vita for remote play with a PS4 is likely to improve the performance further, with the next gen console doing all the heavy work. The remote function is set up easily on the proviso that both devices are connected to the same wifi network and enjoys a good range.
Titles like Lego Marvel Superheroes are recreated superbly on the Vita’s screen, while modified controls (the rear touchpad replaces the triggers of the Dualshock 4) are easy to pick up.
The only downside to the feature lies with the in-game text and menus on a few PS4 titles (the multitude of menus in FIFA 14’s Ultimate Team mode being a prime example) which can prove hard to read at times, but given that every developer for the Vita is now including remote play as standard, the problem will hopefully be ironed out in the months and years ahead.
Great companion for PS4
Indeed, the screen has been the most contentious aspect in the console’s revamp, with the increased battery life largely down to Sony’s decision to replace the OLED screen of the original with an LED display. The difference is negligible, although existing owners with a predilection for fast-paced action games may be deterred by an incremental loss of sharpness and colour.
Newcomers to the Vita, however, will not notice any difference, as the numerous upgrades more than compensate for the loss in picture quality. Newcomers, in fact, are the ideal audience for the new Vita, in particular those are also early adopters with the PS4.
Retailing at nearly £50 less than the original device’s RRP, the upgrade is a relatively inexpensive option for playing games of substance on the move; connect it with a home console, however, and you will wonder how you ever got by without it.