CNET First Look
Sony PlayStation Vita (Japan)The Vita looks to be a slick and impressive portable gaming system, but the lack of an included memory card prevents it from playing games out of the box.
Hey, everyone. I am Jeff Bakalar for Cnet.com. And this is our very first look at the Sony PlayStation Vita. Now, the Vita is set to launch in the US on February 22nd of 2012 but we got our hands on the Japanese version that was released just a few days ago. There really aren't any major differences between the two systems. So, this is pretty much what you're gonna be getting early next year. The Vita is considerably wider than the PSP but is also surprising light. It's got a gorgeous 5-inch all LED screen on front, that's a touch panel and there's actually a rear touch panel as well that can respond to taps and gestures also. On the either side of the screen are analog thumb sticks which are flanked by stereo left and right speakers. Now, all the usual PlayStation buttons are present here as well and there are left and right shoulder buttons. The deep end is a little different than what you're used to on the dual shock controller or the PSP for that matter but so far it's performed pretty well. Finally, there's a PlayStation home button on the bottom left corner and a select and start button on the bottom right. Along the top are the power and volume buttons in addition to the Vita game slot which is where you can pop in games. Adjacent to that panel is also a mystery slot probably for some accessory down the line. Now, it's not super easy opening these slots. They do have a small slit to maybe stick a fingernail in there but it's not a very glamorous way to switch games or access these ports. Believe it or not, if you trim your nails a lot, you might have trouble prying them open. The Japanese Vita games come in this little blue boxes and are on cards that resemble sort of an SD card or maybe a memory pro-duo card. There's both a front a rear facing camera on the Vita and below is a charging port and a headphones jack. Now, here's also where you'll find the Vita memory card slot which actually opens up a bigger garage that we already have with the new system. Believe it or not, a lot of Vita games will not work unless you go out and buy an additional proprietary format Vita memory card. And quite frankly, I am a little shock that Sony is shipping a product that won't play games unless you buy this memory card accessory especially since the last portable they made which is the PSP Go prided itself on having an internal 60 gigabytes of storage. Now, with the Vita acting like this, I am not really sure there is much internal storage inside here at all. Now, it's now so much that I am upset the Vita needs a memory card to play games. That is not the first time we've seen that. But the fact that one isn't included in the box is really kinda ridiculous. In terms of its operating system, the Vita abandons that cross media bar that we're all used to on the PSP and the PlayStation 3 and instead ups for a touch base interface. Now, ugly enough, it's actually kinda similar to Web OS where you can have multiple apps or cards open and swipe away the ones you wanna close. It's actually really easy to use and very logical. It's smooth and zippy with reactions just like we've come to expect with something like the iPad. However again, most of the apps included here aren't either activated yet because we have a Japanese one in US territory or they require the memory card to operate. You won't be able to use the camera, music or video player app without having a card installed in the system. I was really impressed with another feature called remote play which essentially slings over your PlayStation 3 to the Vita. But, unfortunately you can't play games through this mode and in fact, a lot of the functionality is also missing here. Now, gaming is the Vita's biggest talking point and it does it really well. Some of the touch functionality of a few games feels a bit tacked on but overall it's a very impressive portable gaming machine. The graphics are absolutely breathtaking and the various amount of tilt, touch and augmented reality in productions opens the door for tons of unique kinds of games and software. Now, I am gonna testing this Vita as well as the US version of the hardware for the next few weeks and we'll have a lot more to talk about then. However, one thing is very clear, you're going to definitely Bakalar for Cnet.com and this has been the Sony PlayStation Vita.