Three reasons PlayStation Vita is no match for iPod touch

The PlayStation Vita doesn't do enough to compete with Apple, and it doesn't deserve your cash. Here's why.

There's not that much wrong with the PlayStation Vita, Sony's latest handheld -- we awarded it three stars in our review , signalling that it's pretty good. But in the dog-eat-dog world of gaming, 'pretty good' doesn't cut the mustard.

I'm going to lay down three reasons why you'd be better off with an iPod touch , and then explain why even the most muscly-thumbed of joystick-wigglers should have a long, hard think before throwing money at the Vita.

1. It's really, really big

Obviously, right? The Vita is enormogigantic, and is way too big to fit in your pockets, unless it's all you're carrying and you're comfortable strutting about with a massive Vita-shaped bulge in your pantaloons. To lug this monster around all day, you'll definitely need a bag.

"Not a problem!" you might think -- but you'd be sorely mistaken, you poor, poor idiot. The glory of carrying something as tiny as the iPod touch around is that you can bust it out for a joyous jolt of Jetpack Joyride at almost any moment.

Think about it. That means gaming on the toilet, in the queue at Sainsbury's and while your mate goes to the bar to get the next round in. In short, you've occupied those all-too-frequent brain-numbing 30-second moments you hadn't planned for, but wish you could fill. Your friends and loved ones will be sick of it, but they don't understaaand.

Sure, if you've got a flight booked or a bus journey to make you can plan to bring your Vita along, but who wants the stress of planning these things? Better to lose the physical controls in favour of something you can take anywhere without even thinking about it.

2. The Vita is expensive

Like, so expensive. We're talking £219 for the Wi-Fi only model, and £269 if you want the 3G version that lets you use the Internet while you're outside the house (what a treat!).

"That's not so bad," I can practically hear you musing, but add to that the minimum cost of the memory card you'll need (£14.99 on Amazon for the 4GB one) and the cost of one game (let's charitably say £29.90 for Wipeout, though Amazon has Uncharted listed at the wallet-petrifying cost of £37.90), and you're looking at a minimum total spend of £263.89 to get a Vita with one game. That's enough to buy 26,389 penny sweets. And ask yourself -- look deep inside -- right now, would you rather play Wipeout, or eat a Cola bottle?

I rest my case. The iPod touch, meanwhile, costs £153 from Amazon, and the vast majority of its thousands-strong game library cost less than £2, and many are free.

3. Home console gaming on a handheld ain't all that

By this point hardcore gaming nuts will be desperate to reach through their monitors, shake me by the lapels (I wish I could afford lapels) and make me understand that Sony consoles are simply home to a different kind of game -- a more refined breed of electronic entertainment, the sort that features gorgeously rendered cut-scenes and involving narrative arcs, peppered with character development and a sophisticated control scheme.

They are right, of course. While smart phones and allied gadgetry is coming on leaps and bounds in the graphics department (Infinity Blade 2 is the example that usually gets rolled out), a touchscreen gizmo will never replicate the kind of rich, engrossing, testing game experience you get with a proper controller in your hand and a lovely big console humming away under your telly (or a meaty gaming rig and a cool glowing mouse -- have no fear PC gamers, we know you exist).

The Vita can make you feel like your PlayStation 3 is running in the palm of your hand. Hooray for processors. But is that really what you want? Our Vita experience largely involved two things: loading screens and cut-scenes.

The fact is, there are things about home console-style games that you don't want to bother with while you're roaming the urban jungle like some kind of stealthy public-transport tiger. There's every chance that by the time you've fired up a game, waited for it to load, scrolled through loads of menus and booted your save, your bus ride will be over, the lift has reached the ground floor, and it's time to put the Vita away again.

While gadding about town, I'm content with Tiny Wings, satisfied by the instant thrills of Land-a Panda. And when I eventually get back home, Nathan Drake is there waiting for me under the TV (not literally), with his impossibly perfect stubble, ready to welcome me into a proper, blockbuster, loading screen-addled adventure.

You are bias?

Sometimes we get accused of being biased towards a particular company when we write things that condemn or celebrate particular products -- enough so that it's worth addressing.

I don't want Apple to crush Sony (or Nintendo, or Microsoft for that matter) and take over gaming. Actually, to be more accurate, I don't care -- here at CNET UK we respect our readers more than faceless tech giants. In brief, the company that we're 'biased' towards is whichever we think gets you the most bang for your buck.

And if you're shopping for on-the-go gaming, I think the iPod touch has things pretty much sewn up right now. If you don't agree, the comments are the place to have your say. If you're new to the Internet (hello!), you'll find them just below. Oh, we have a Facebook page too -- welcome along.

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Gaming
About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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