PS Vita: A hand holding guide to your new handheld

Its been just over a week since the widely successful launch of Sony’s new handheld Playstation Vita. We’ve been spending hours on our new shiny piece of tech and in the process have collated a load of tips, tricks and how-to’s. Were here to do all the boring research so you can spend more time enjoying the best mobile gaming experience money can buy.

 PS-Vita

1. Customisation is king.

If you want to personalise your PS Vita you can. Much like an iPad or iPhone  you can press and hold any of the app icons and move them around. You can’t make group folders, but you can move all similar apps to the same screen and keep your new PS Vita nice and tidy.  You can even change the background colour or image by tapping the theme icon in the bottom right of each frame. Get creative and design your own background images (which you can transfer to your PS Vita via PS3)

2. Let there be light.

Unlike the PS3, the PS Vita has been designed form the ground-up to multi-task – so if you want to change the brightness on the stunning OLED screen mid-game you can. Press and hold the PS button and a quick-access menu will appear which enables you to adjust the brightness and even set up a custom soundtrack – so you can listen to the delights of the Prodigy whilst thundering around New York on Wipeout 2048.

3. Peace of mind.

Like any device there’s always a chance than you might drop it or worse break it. Now we can’t prevent that, but we help you save your precious save data. Connect you PS Vita to your PS3 via the USB cable provided, open up the content managed on the you PS Vita and select the the Back Up option to back up all your PS Vita’s game data and gain a little extra peace of mind.

4. Say cheese!

One of the coolest features we’ve stumbled upon with the PS Vita is the ability to take some screenshots of your in-game achievements. All you have to do is press the Start and PS button at the same time and if you done it right you’ll see the screen flash white and will hear the snap from the camera.

5. PSP games with 2012 lick of paint.

As you may well know the PS Vita is backwards compatible with over 250 PSP games. But did you know you can make them look better? Well if you load up a PSP game you can press and hold the touchscreen it will bring up a sub menu which allows you to enable “bilinear filtering” and “color space” which will give your classic games a new lick of paint and smooth out some of those 2005 jaggies. Experiment with your PSP games to find your favorite combination.

6. The Panel of your dreams.

Not only can you customise your background, but you can add a custom panels to add a little bit of flair to your PS Vita. To change your PSN panel, navigate to Settings, PSN, Account Information, and Panel to choose from a wide assortment of artwork from first and third-party games.

7. Remote Play goodness. 

One of the most exciting features on PS Vita is Remote Play. With this new feature you can log into to your PS3 remotely to access a video, start a Playstation store download and even play games. Remote Play is still in its infancy and further down the line you’ll be able to play full PS3 games via your PS Vita. While that’s not here just yet, the PS Vita is compatible with any PSone games you may have on your hard drive, along with a handful of classic PSN games such as PixelJunk Monsters, PixelJunk Eden, and Peggle.

8. Bluetooth is the business.

The PS Vita supports high-quality stereo Bluetooth audio output – so if want to chat to friends or give a bit of trash talk you can. In the Settings menu, touch Network and Bluetooth Settings and you’ll be able to pair your headphones to your new PS Vita.

9. Let there be silence.

Some people like soft jazz, others prefer silence. If you want to turn off PS Vita’s toe-tappin’ menu music, you’ll find the option in Settings > Sound & Display > System Music. While you’re there, you’ll notice an AVLS option. This limits the maximum volume when using headphones — perfect if you share your PS Vita with a little one.

PS Vita: High end handheld gaming but strictly for the hardcore

Alright, okay. Calm down! Chillax! What’s all the hubbub about this bloomin’ PS Vita thing then? Well, with on-the-go gaming now done primarily on the good ol’ smart phone device, many other great tech and gadget websites have been arguing that it’s a little bit silly to be producing a brand new hand-held console in the rather sultry shape of the PS Vita. Indeed, first reviews have split opinion right down the middle.

PS-Vita
Image courtesy of iFixit.com

What do we think? We all know (yeah, that’s you as well…) that in this…. wait for it… poor economic climate (sorry… the phrase was necessary) that people (even avid gamers) don’t have as much time as they might usually, or as much money to spend… yeah, so money’s the main problem. Anyway, with that in mind, it begs the perfectly valid question: “Is a device that costs over £200 really going to make a difference and entice people part with their cherished pennies?” The answer, quite honestly is… maybe.

At first glance, this thing looks a lot like the PSP and the operating menu is a bit like the Wii (nice and clean with lots of room for manoeuvre) – don’t worry though, because the Vita is in fact, a lot bigger than the former, which in the gaming world is good… because it makes things a lot easier in terms of both readability, and playability…. you already knew that.

The reason why the PSP is worth bringing up here though, is because the Vita actually showcases the evolution of Sony’s very first hand-held baby – as such, it deals with a lot of the problems that were evident within that. This upgrade (kinda like the Robert Patrick’s T-1000 robot to Arnie’s The Terminator) is not so easy to damage – it has a strong reinforced shell which makes it much more durable and comfortable to play on the go.

Not enough for you? You’d like some other wonderful qualities? Since you asked, the Vita features the awesome double header of the PS3’s Dualshock controller which will lead to some delightful motion-sensor-related action, alongside a very credible attempt to recreate the dual analogue sticks, which though smaller (obviously), do most certainly help to reduce the desire that the PSP had to kill your thumbs. That is always a good thing, yeah? We really like our thumbs here at LG.

Another positive thing about the Vita is its diversity. It has the ability to stray into smartphone and tablet territory; there’s a wide multi-touch front screen (a teeny weeny bit larger, but equally as responsive as the trusty iPhone), and it’s got rear and front VGA (640 x 480 pixels) cameras that seem to work very nicely; a favourite feature for many people who will actually use them to full potential for in-game usage and photo manipulation.

One of the best options of course, has to be the Near GPS location service (pretty nifty) – it’s a multi-layered tool for locating other gamers as well as allowing the user to access a variety of movies, music and picture files that can easily be imported from home. Nice work. Did we mention the charming five-inch OLED display (which is particularly awesome), oh, oh also the four hours of quality battery life and audio (best experienced via headphones). No? Well, they’re treats that you are more than deserving of, dear readers.

The numerous game titles can either be bought in old’s cool (old school…) boxes or, in the deceptively… erm flashy new PS Vita flash-card format (which, before we slag it off, you can rather handily save games on), or downloaded from the PlayStation Network to an annoyingly tiny PS Vita memory card (’bout the size of your phone’s sim). The very unfortunate thing (which a number of other reviews have noted) is that both of these cards need to be attached through some of the most challenging access points that you are likely to find within the gaming world… collective sad face.

Some other quite negative points to take into account before we finish, are the fact that for one, there’s no storage internally, and even more astonishingly, the largest memory card available at launch will be 16GB at a cost of £45 – might be a tad too much, eh?. Also, each game that you play has to be terminated in order to start another… that’s a definite downer, but it could be worse , at least you won’t have loads of games running at once and clogging up your precious memory… nobody likes that. right?

In summary, the PS Vita is expensive, but with 25 games confirmed for the launch (including Uncharted: Golden Abyss and Wipeout 2048) it’s set to keep avid games busy for a good long while, and (perhaps) establish itself as an innovative new cross-media platform.

The Vita is going to be available from February 22 at £230 for Wi-Fi-only, and £280 for 3G model.