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PlayStation Vita to be released February 2012

Sony announces its new powerhouse handheld gaming device won't be on retailer shelves for the holiday shopping season.

The retail box for the PS Vita.

The question of when gamers will be able to finally get their hands on the PlayStation Vita has been answered.

PlayStation chief Jack Tretton confirmed this evening at the Web 2.0 summit that Sony's upcoming powerhouse handheld gaming device will go on sale in the U.S, Canada, Latin America, and Europe on February 22, 2012.

Until this evening, the PS Vita's release date has been a mystery. However, the release timeframe of the Vita misses the critical holiday season and confirms a previous report that the device wouldn't arrive until early 2012.

Nonetheless, the Vita will be inexpensive at $250 for the Wi-Fi version, and $300 for the Wi-Fi+3G (AT&T) variant. For the price, the powerful handheld could do well especially as it is housed in a familiar form factor and has buzzword specifications like a 5-inch OLED touch screen, quad-core processors, dual analog sticks, dual cameras and a rear touch panel.

Can a device like the Vita be relevant in the rapidly evolving smartphone and tablet age we live in? Perhaps, if the software is truly compelling and unique enough to defeat what is out there now. The Vita will lose the hardware race by the middle of next year, save the unique inputs (e.g. the gaming buttons, touch panel, etc). Don't even get me started on the lackluster battery life. Sony is also up against Nintendo, which is a company that has dominated portable gaming handheld sales for many years with its seemingly never-ending Nintendo DS variants.