PS Vita - What It's Like To Hold Sony's New Handheld
I, like many others, went into E3 expecting Sony's new handheld, PS Vita (I actually really like the name), to essentially be a PSP with updated graphics and touch-screen capabilities.
Boy was I wrong.
This is a completely new piece of hardware. It looks different and needs to be held differently than its predecessor. The vibe I got from Vita is that it is the PSP's genetically enhanced younger brother, the baby with all of the best features of its older sibling, but improved. It's more than just an upgrade of the PSP. It's a completely new experience.
At first, like pretty much everyone else at E3, I grabbed Vita like as if it was a PSP. That was my first mistake. What I realised almost immediately is that the touch-pads on the back of the handheld mean holding it like you would the PSP equate to inadvertent actions that are initiated by touching the pads.
Thankfully, there are two little grooves alongside the pads for your fingers to rest. It equates to an experience that takes a short time of getting used to, but it is distinctively different from holding the PSP. This will most certainly change the way in which games are developed for the handheld, especially those that have minimal touchpad implementation.
I do get the feeling that these grooves can have an adverse affect on some gamers though, and it will be very interesting to see the reaction from gamers once they get some hands-on time with it. At first glance this is a handheld that looks very similar to the PSP and so some people might go into it wondering how exactly they're supposed to hold it. The touchpads at the back aren't necessarily a problem when it comes to holding the handheld, but I did find my hands feeling rather tense and sore after about fifteen-minutes of game time.
However, I'm not at all concerned about that because I had similar pains when I first got my PSP. It's just a matter of getting used to the hardware and finding a groove. Considering the quality of the hardware and the beautiful presentation of the games on show, I can bypass a comfort learning curve because I know that I'll be using the handheld excessively. It's a new design -- a rather ambitious one -- and it will depend on the implementation of the touchpads as to how you'll be holding the handheld for every game.
PS Vita looks great, handles well for the most part and seems to have a wide variety of titles that implement the handheld's touch capabilities well. I may have come away from playing it with sore hands, but I get the feeling that once I get used to its design and functionality that there is a sweet spot that makes playing it an absolute treat.
By Gaetano Prestia
PS Vita is set for release later in 2011. Australian RRP TBC.