SLIDESHOW

A Closer Look at the PlayStation Vita Gaming Handheld

With mind-blowing colors, dual analog sticks, and a 3G/Wi-Fi component, Sony’s PlayStation Vita could be one of the most impressive mobile game devices yet. Here's a breakdown of the Vita's features.

Sony PlayStation Vita

The Vita, which Sony is hailing as the successor to the PlayStation Portable, is expected to surpass the company's previous gaming handhelds, offering improved graphics quality, speed, and sound. According to IGN.com, it’s the most technologically advanced handheld to date, with a quad-core processor, an OLED multitouch screen, a rear touch panel, front- and rear-facing cameras, the Sixaxis motion-sensing system, Wi-Fi, and optional 3G connectivity.

The Vita will be released in Japan on December 17, and released in Europe and North America on February 22, 2012. The Vita is expected to cost $249 for a Wi-Fi version and $299 for a 3G model. You can buy it when it comes out in stores, or preorder online from Sony or via other retailers such as Gamestop.

Front and Rear Cameras

Imagine standing in a busy area playing Reality Fighters, and seeing not only the combatants in the game but also the pedestrians passing in front of you on screen. The cameras in the front and back of the Vita enable this augmented-reality system, which merges your surroundings with the PlayStation world.

Another tidbit: The front camera can also scan your face and incorporate it onto a character in your game.

5-Inch Screen

The screen for the new handheld is larger than those on PSPs; the extra space should result in more-immersive gameplay. Thanks to the 5-inch screen, Sony says, using a Vita comes close to the visual experience of using a PlayStation 3.

OLED Display

With its 960-by-544-pixel OLED display, the Vita offers a wide color spectrum, and it should render crisp and vibrant images. The visuals shown here in Street Fighter X Tekken, for instance, look particularly striking.

Quad-Core Processor

Compared with the dual-core processor of a Nintendo 3DS, an Apple iPhone 4S, or a Motorola Atrix 2, the Vita's CPU has double the power. Inside this handheld is a quad-core ARM Cortex A9 processor, as well as a Samsung SGX543MP4+ GPU made expressly for the Vita.

The quad-core processor allows for enhanced detail--take a look at the intricacies of the carpet on the wall here, and the smoke residue from the gunfire to the right.

Touchscreen

The Vita's OLED touchscreen allows you to interact intimately with the scenery in your games. Touching the screen, you can drag characters over rocks and bridges in Uncharted: Golden Abyss, for instance, or line up billiard balls in Hustle Kings.

Touchpad

Turn the Vita over, and you’ll see the rear touchpad. This area permits you to interact more closely with games by placing your fingers directly behind the system. In Little Deviants, for instance, you can use the touchpad to direct balls to different points as well as to insert obstacles--such as a mountain--into the game.

Sixaxis Motion Sensing

Sony says that the Sixaxis motion-sensing system draws you deeper into the dramatic action of your games. Whether you are steering a futuristic racer in Wipeout 2048, as shown here, or traveling the fairway in Everybody’s Golf, the system detects your movement and merges it with the game.

Dual Analog Sticks

The Vita had you at dual analog sticks, didn’t it? The two sticks increase precision, and are perfect for first-person shooters or racing games. They’re also good for providing heightened intensity in fighting or combat games.

Buttons

Buttons, buttons, and more buttons! Located to the side and on the device’s front face are a power button, directional buttons, action buttons, shoulder buttons, and start/select and volume buttons.

The Vita also has a PlayStation button that can temporarily suspend your game and take you to the game’s Live Arena. There, you can access the PlayStation Store and do other tasks such as boot up another game or use the handheld's video player (although doing so will exit the game you were playing).

3G/Wi-Fi Component

The 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities of the Vita will let you play against users anywhere in the world, and will also allow you to check for nearby opponents. You can send your friends on treasure hunts, too, or drop off digital gifts for them to download. Another cool thing about the 3G/Wi-Fi capability is that it enables everyone to stay in sync with scores and ranks.

Playing on the Go

The Vita’s cloud-based technology allows you to keep playing on the go. With it, you can save your game at home on the PS3 via the cloud network, and resume elsewhere with the Vita, such as when you're on your way to the gym or to class.

Microphone

Imagine using your voice to inspire action in your game. This isn’t fanciful conjecture, but a reality on the Vita. In Wipeout 2048, you can command the vehicle's on-board computer to fire weapons at targets. In Little Deviants (shown here), you can direct your persona to sing to mischievous critters.

Cross-Game Voice Chat

How does the Vita's RAM compare with the memory in a PS3? Rather impressively, according to the figures.

The Vita has 512MB of system RAM and 128MB of video RAM, while the PS3 carries 256MB of system RAM and 256MB of video RAM. The extra system memory allows the Vita to handle cross-game chat. Through the chat function, you can talk to friends on the go, whether you’re in the middle of a multiplayer action game such as the one shown here, or watching videos.

Social Media

Through the Vita, you can tweet your friends and post on Facebook through downloadable apps available on the PlayStation Store. Sony says that the Vita supports the Facebook, Foursquare, Skype, and Twitter apps. However, whether these apps have the ability to reach into gameplay hasn’t been confirmed yet.