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PS Vita hands on: Proprietary media already holding it back

CNET goes hands on with the Japanese version of the PlayStation Vita. It's sleek, sexy, and boasts a gorgeous 5-inch OLED screen, but Sony's use of proprietary media is already holding it back.

Now playing: Watch this: Sony PlayStation Vita (Japan)

I got my Japanese Vita a few days ago, but my order was incomplete.

I received a Wi-Fi Vita with three games, but the 4GB Vita memory card I ordered is taking a bit longer to ship. Little did I know that without a Vita memory card, my new handheld would be rendered mostly useless.

You read correctly: a sizable number of PlayStation Vita games will not even boot up unless a Vita memory card is installed in the unit (including the ones I bought: Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Ridge Racer, and Everybody's Golf 6). There are also a number of Vita apps that require a card to run, all of which I cover in my First Look video. It's not that I'm upset that the Vita requires a memory card to play games, it's the fact that Sony has chosen not to include one in the box. CNET has already confirmed with Sony that none of the U.S. Vita SKUs will ship with a card either, save for the $350 First Edition Bundle.

There's no denying that the Vita is a slick and completely capable gaming machine, but Sony's decision to once again go with proprietary media is holding the system back from the get-go. Forcing customers to buy proprietary flash media is a hidden cost that needs to be considered before buying the system. The Vita memory cards will be available in four sizes, ranging from 4GB to 32GB and from $20-$100 in price. At the very least, you'll need to spend $280 plus the price of a game to start playing.

Be sure to watch my First Look at the PlayStation Vita hardware (video) as I cover every last inch of the system. CNET will have much more coverage of the Vita leading up to its February 22, 2012, U.S. release. That said, the Japanese version is mostly the same as what we'll get stateside. I'll have a closer look at the Japanese Vita's launch games hopefully before the new year.

Need more access to the Vita? Check out our gallery that's filled with shots from all angles and comparisons to the PSP Go and PSP-3000.

This post was updated to reflect the just-announced new pricing for the Vita memory cards.