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PS Vita gets video, maps, and blinking lights

Sony said, "Let me upgrade ya!" to the PlayStation Vita in Japan yesterday, just weeks before the handheld gaming device is scheduled to hit the U.S.

The Vita now shoots video. SCEJ

A rather noteworthy firmware update arrived yesterday for the PlayStation Vita in Japan, just weeks before the device is set to debut in the U.S. on February 22.

Vita can now shoot MP4 video (1.5Mbps) at 640x480 resolution with supplementary audio-recording support up to 128Kbps AAC. This is not HD-quality by any means, but it will probably look above-average based on the strength of Sony's mobile-camera sensors. There's a note of an improvement to "Featured Photo," which now supports video content.

We also spotted an optional Content Manager Assistant app for Vita (available now in English for PC and Mac) that lets you run a system update and transfer and/or back up data between the Vita and a computer.

Map mode includes walking and driving directions, and it is likely the satellite view will look smashing on the 5-inch OLED screen. SCEJ

Another noteworthy addition in update 1.60 is the map mode, but it's entirely possible the decision makers at Sony won't commercially bring this feature outside Japan (like the PSP). Nonetheless, the map mode is comprehensive. You can look up phone numbers, addresses, and other details when you select a point of interest. There's also an option to send your location to friends via group messaging.

Traditional atlas-style view in Vita's Japanese map app. SCEJ

Multiple status lights now indicate power state. A solid-blue light displays while you're plugged in; flashing blue is for standby mode; a slow blue flash indicates an unread message/information; solid orange displays when you're charging and powered off, and flashing orange means the battery is going to die soon.

Perhaps an important note down the line is that as of firmware 1.60, turning off the power and holding the button for 30 seconds puts the Vita in safe mode. You can also see other Vita owners who pass you by with Near enabled much more easily, as they show up as an icon among your collection of other games and apps. Near is the friend-making GPS-based app for Vita that's loosely similar to Nintendo's Streetpass.

(Via AV Watch)