Sony has a new game handheld hitting the US, sort of: the PlayStation Vita Slim or Vita 2000 is a hardware revision to the original Vita from 2012, with a few tweaks and a notably thinner and lighter build.
It's really the same as the original Vita, with a few key exceptions: an LCD display instead of OLED, Micro USB charging, and a more compact feel. The real question is, who should get a Vita? It's a product that's struggled over the past few years, but if you love handheld games, this is a console that's starting to come into its own. I've used one of the new Vitas for the past week, and it won me over. The Vita still lacks vibration, real triggers and other console-like features, but there's nothing else out there like it, either. If you've been on the fence, here are some reasons why now is a pretty good time to reconsider. For more, read about the Vita versus the rest of the handheld gaming landscape.
It's a great bundle for the price
The new Vita Slim bundle hitting stores Tuesday includes the new Vita, a digital code for Borderlands 2, and an 8GB memory card for $199. That's not bad at all: Sony's proprietary memory cards aren't cheap. Collectively, that's about $60 worth of useful extras.
The original Vita had a specialized charge port, so you needed to use the included Vita-to-USB cable to recharge. The new Vita has a Micro-USB port, so you can use any Micro-USB cable you have lying around to charge it up. One less thing to pack on a trip, but just make sure your phone adapter works with it: I found that not all of them actually charge properly.
A bit better battery life
The new Vita Slim has about an hour more battery life versus the original Vita. It also has an LCD display that's not as vivid as the original's OLED. But if you want the best battery life, so far the new Vita is getting me a little more play time.
If you own a PS4
The Vita's a really good little PlayStation 4 accessory: a handful of games cross-play between both systems, meaning you may already have Vita games and not even know it. Even better is Remote Play, which allows streaming of games on the Vita's small screen. It works surprisingly well. A recent PS4 software update makes pairing a Vita even easier.
Improved game selection
The Vita still lacks an ultimate PlayStation-lover's library, but it's getting better all the time. Sony's also developed an impressive catalog of mobile, indie and classic PSOne and PSP games, adding up to a lot more than you'd probably expect. Among the notable mobile exclusives -- games you can't play on iOS or Android -- are titles like Tearaway, MLB: The Show 14, and a new God of War collection (Vita-friendly remixes of the first two PS2 games). Other can't-miss favorites of mine include Spelunky, Persona 4 Golden, Luftrausers, and Fez.
Feels like a phone, in a good way
Unlike the Nintendo 3DS, which has fantastic games but a weird custom hardware design, the new Vita feels as slim and as large as recent phones, but with buttons. If you don't own a top-end smartphone but want to dabble in recent mobile hits, a lot of them are lurking around the PS Store and work about as well with the Vita's touchscreen.
The killer app: PS Plus
Again, if you're already paying $50 a year for Sony's PlayStation Plus service, you're entitled to a slew of games at no additional charge; think of it as Netflix for gaming -- and one that works across all of your PlayStation devices. With a Vita and PS4 (or PS3), the PS Plus value proposition becomes pretty substantial. It's basically an infinite lending library for a few games every month. If you're not picky, you'll gain a sizable game library over time -- so long as you remain a subscriber.