The Playstation Vita is Sony’s second foray into the handheld market after the widely successful PSP. With powerful specs, a beautiful large OLED screen and dual analog sticks, it certainly seems to follow in the “home console in your hand” philosophy that the PSP had. If you already own one and are looking to completely knowing the ins and out of your device or are simply wondering whether you should get one, this is the tutorial for you. Tutorial Contents & Index: Frequently Asked Questions Technical Specs Games - Notable Vita games. Playstation Plus - Features How hackable is it? User interface Other Features - Built-in applications - Optional applications from PSN PS4 connectivity Accessories Future Prospects Conclusion FAQ Q: What is the Playstation Vita? A - The Playstation Vita is a handheld gaming console and is the successor to the PSP. Q: How much does it cost? A - The Wi-Fi version retails for $249/£169.99, while the 3G/Wi-Fi version retails for $299/£179.99. Q: How big is the screen? A - It features a 5-inch OLED screen with 24-bit color, a resolution of 960 × 544 (qHD) @ 220 ppi. Q: Does it use UMDs? A - No, thank the gaming gods, it doesn't. Instead of UMDs, it uses a proprietary card that ranges in sizes from 4, 8, 16 and 32GB. Q: I know the Vita has dual-sticks but are they clickable? A - No. Q: How much do Vita games cost? A - They can retail from anything up to $40. If you do some bargain-hunting, Vita games can commonly be found for very cheap. Q: Is the Vita region-free? A - Yes, the Vita is region-free. There are some restrictions though as you can only have one account activated at a time and online passes are region restricted. Q: What does "Vita" mean? A - Vita means “Life” in Latin. Q: How large is the system? A - Here's a comparison pic between the Vita and 3DS as well as a comparison video. Technical Specs One of the main draws of the Playstation Vita are its technical specs. With a powerful ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, a PowerVR SGX543MP4+ and 512MB of RAM (128MB of VRAM), it represents the absolute pinaccle of handheld tech today. At least for now. But disregarding the CPU, GPU and RAM, the most interesting part of the Vita is that gorgeous OLED screen. If you're used to using LCD screens, this will come across as the most noticeable change from your existing handheld devices. Colours shine better, it works insanely well in low-light, everything just looks so much better. Not only does this make Vita games look great but this breathes new life into PSP games. It isn't all perfect, though. The high resolution of the Vita (960x544) acts as both a positive and a downside. While watching videos and playing certain games benefit greatly from it, this has also caused a number of developers to release their games in a sub-native resolution. While the sub-native res allows to devs to push more out of Vita games than they would be able to at the native resolution, it has a detrimental effect to a game's image quality making it look blurry and introducing artifacts. Below is a list of some Vita games and the resolution that they run at. Warning: Spoilers inside! PSP fans might also be disappointed to hear that there is no native TV-output support on the Vita. To view or play your games on a television, you'll need to send your console into a third-party to get modded. Arguably, the most controversial part of the Vita's hardware is its reliance on proprietary memory cards. Unlike its competitor, the 3DS, the Vita doesn't allow for the industry standard, SD cards. You're forced to purchase costly memory cards from Sony (ranging from $20 for a 4GB to $100 for 32GB) to properly utilize your device. Compared to last-gen portables like the DS and the PSP, the Vita (and 3DS) feature pitifully low battery lives. Aside from buying a Nyko Power Grip, there really isn't much you can do about this. Just pay attention to the battery life when travelling with your Vita. Games You’ve no doubt heard of the many sales woes that the Vita has been going through over the past couple of months so it might come as a pleasant surprise to you to hear that the Vita actually features a pretty decent library of games (albeit a lot of ports). From adventuring in Uncharted to futuristic racing in Wipeout, you’ll have no shortage of things to play on the Vita, at least for the first couple of months or so. Even better is that Sony has showed an increased interest in the indie gaming scene so that if you aren’t quite interested in the latest gaming blockbusters, you can still cool off with some Hohokum or go on an emotional journey with Telltale’s The Walking Dead. With certain Vita games, Sony has added certain "Cross-play" features, a feature that lets PS Vita games interact with compatible PlayStation 3 games. For example players with Wipeout 2048 on the Vita can compete with Wipeout HD players on the PS3 and with MLB 12: The Show, players can transfer save files to and from the PS3 and Vita versions. There's a similarly-named feature called "Cross-buy". In this, if you purchase a game with this promotion, you'll be given copies for it on both the PS3 and Vita allowing you to play both at home and on the go. Some of the best Vita games: Uncharted: Golden Abyss is the graphics showpiece for the Vita. With stunning outdoor environments, modern lighting effects and other tricks that you wouldn't normally expect on a handheld, this is the game that best shows off the Vita's hardware. Graphics aside, the game plays much like one would expect an Uncharted game to on a handheld, it has the usual mix of platforming and shooting sequences with the occasional sequence. While the plot isn't as solid as you might expect and the set-pieces not quite as impressive, this is still a pretty solid game and definitely worth a purchase. Sound Shapes is an indie game that blends both music and platforming into one wonderful package. Out of all the games available on the Vita, this is one of my very favourites. Each level is a visual feast varying from retro pixel aesthetics to more traditional storybook style illustrations. While not all the levels are great, when the game delivers, it really delivers. The music really adds to the experience changing this from a simple platformer to something magical. In particular, the levels featuring music from Beck and Deadmau5 are an experience you won't forget. If you're looking for more of a challenge, the game also offers a Challenge mode with an incredibly hard Platinum trophy. You can also create your own levels and download stages made by other Sound Shape players. At its current price-point, this is a no-brainer. You might have already played MGS1 and 2 before but if there's any game series that lends itself well to multiple playthroughs, it's this one. MGS: HD Collection for the Vita feature two ports of MGS1 and MGS2 for the PS2. Aside from MGS2 running at a lower framerate than the PS2 version (30FPS vs. 60), these are both very solid ports. And if you haven't played these games already, now is a better time than ever. Both games have aged incredibly well featuring in-depth mechanics that Kojima games are known for, solid plots (not so much for MGS2) and are most of all fun. Worth a purchase! PS Vita Game Recommendation Thread: a list I've compiled of the very best Vita games. Not yet satisfied, well there's more. The Vita also features PSP backwards compatibility enabling you to play through a wide variety of classics. While you can't quite use UMDs anymore, any PSP game available off PSN is playable on the Vita. This help breathe new life into games you've played before thanks to the addition of dual-sticks and the OLED enhancing the visuals of games. And if you didn't own a PSP before, now is better a time than ever to experience the many great games that were available on that platform (may I put a recommendation out for Peacewalker). /v/'s recommended PSP games: prowler's essential PSP games list: Playstation Plus I can't bring up Vita games without mentioning Playstation Plus! If you haven't heard about it before, Playstation Plus is a subscription service in which you pay $5 a month for a number of features. These features include; Instant Game Collection (a number of games offered for free each month, can be played whenever you want provided that you have a PS+ subscription) Cloud game-save storage (so that you never lose your save files) Early or exclusive access to some betas or demoes "Full Game Trials" of some PlayStation Network and retail games, allowing you to download a full game and use it for one hour The Vita games that are offered as part of the Instant Game Collection are the main draw of Playstation Plus. In the past year, I've gotten Gravity Rush, Wipeout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and more all for free with a subscription. The other features are just the icing on the cake. How hackable is it? Well this is GBAtemp and that's probably the first thing you guys thought of when you seen this thread. Sadly Vita-mode hasn't been hacked meaning that no, you can't pirate "ALL DA GAEMZ" and there is no Vita-specific homebrew. That said, the PSP portion of the Vita has been hacked (although aside from the Uno release hack, it isn't a full kernel exploit). This works by purchasing a certain PSP game on PSN a few days before an exploit for it is released. The game's names are usually announced on www.wololo.net as a so-called "ninja-release". To see the name of the game, you must have a registered account on the Wololo forums. Once you have hacked your Vita for PSP games, you're essentially locked to that firmware as any updating would mean the removal of your exploit. Since you won't be able to update, you won't be able to access PSN, play Vita games online or utilize a Playstation Plus subscription. You should be aware of the risks before deciding whether to go about with this. More details on PSP-mode Vita hacking at Zmizk's thread: User interface With the XMB on the PS3 and PSP, it's no doubt that Sony certainly knows how to make sexy UIs. Sony has gone in a different direction with the Vita's UI (called the LiveArea) utilizing colorful bubbles in replacement of the sleek and admittedly sterile-looking user interface on the PS3. The use of bubbles can add a bit of clutter, though. Thankfully in a recent update, Sony has added the ability to make folders so that you can easily sort your games (and killing the infamous "VITA HAS NO FOLDERS" joke). The user interface also allows for some customization. You can change the wallpaper of the Vita's lockscreen as well as each individual page of the LiveArea. And just like on most modern smartphones, you can drag and drop icons onto different pages as well as organize them into folders. To perform any of this, you must first enter "edit mode" but touching and then holding anywhere on the screen. I've included an example of a customized LiveArea (my own in fact) right below. Other Features With the advent of casual gaming on smartphones threatening the traditional handheld gaming market, Sony and to a lesser extent Nintendo have tried to pack in additional features outside of pure gaming to help keep their products relevant. The Vita in particular features quite a few optional applications which I will list below. Internet browser, pretty much a standard on any mobile device these days. Music player, no surprise here. Video player, a welcome addition especially thanks to the Vita's screen. Photos & Camera, allows you to take and view photos. But don't bother trying to use the Vita's camera, it's utter garbage (VGA). Near, it's kind of like Streetpass on the 3DS but dumbed down. You'll try it once and then never use it again. Party, chatting application. Supports cross-game chat, a feature the PS3 can only dream of. Don't worry, there's more! The following apps don't come with the device but can be downloaded for free off the PSN store. Twitter app (LiveTweet), can tweet even while playing a game. Facebook app, can update your status once you've accomplished something in-game if you feel the need to brag. Nico Nico, the north american/european app only lets you view livestreams so it's not really useful. Flickr, take pics with your Vita and upload it directly to your Flickr account with this app. Foursquare, If you have a 3G Vita, this app should prove useful to you. YouTube, one of the best Youtube apps available on a mobile device. Netflix, can't watch shows on the tube, don't fret, you'll have just as good as a time watching shows on the Vita's bright OLED. A competent app as far Netflix apps go. Skype, what more do I have to say, it's Skype. There are also a few "applications" on the PSN store ranging from Colors! (although if you have a 3DS, I'd recommend that version) to Uno! (PSP). While the Vita won't serve to be a substitute to your phone or tablet, if you have extra room in your pocket, it's a pretty decent companion device. PS4 connectivity At Sony's conference earlier this year, they announced that the Vita would be able to connect to the PS4 enabling remote-play. While the PSP did this with the PS3 with certain games, Sony plans on improving the feature quite a bit. Remote-play works by allowing you to stream PS4 games that you own and play them right on the Vita. The key difference though with the PSP's remote play feature and the Vita's is that with the Vita, every PS4 game (save for the few that use the PS4's camera) will be supported with the L2/R2 buttons presumably being mapped to the backtouch. Sony also has ambitious plans in which they hope to enable Remote Play over the web, allowing you not only to play Off-TV play (much like the Wii U) at home but also at any place with a Wi-Fi connection. That said, it is worth keeping your expectations in check as lag may prove to be a serious impediment in their plans. While this all seems great in theory, we've yet to see how it works in execution. Accessories If you have money to spare, you'd do well to purchase a few accessories for your Vita. Aside from the usual memory cards, there are a number of different things you can buy to help protect and carry your system. Cases: If money is no object, Waterfield's PlayStation Vita case¹ is thecase to get. It's the essence of case manliness purified into its finest form with actual sturdy leather, multiple compartments and "ballistic nylon". I know this sounds like an endorsement but trust me, this is a really good case. But if you're a peasant who can't afford such an exquisite case, don't fret. There are still options for you. The Pull N Go Folio is a pretty solid case as is the Thrustmaster S.P.F case. Audio: While you could always purchase the official Vita headset, there are better headsets available out there. If you already own a headset, you should try it out and see if it works but if you don't, the Klipsch ProMedia In-Ear Headphones are a good choice. If you're willing to spend a little more, you should consider the TRITTON Kunai Stereo Headset. Other: The Vita has a pitifully low battery life so you would do well to purchase a stand. For little more than $20, you can purchase the official charging stand. While it might not seem like much, it can greatly increase convenience and help your Vita to function as an Alarm Clock if you're one of the two people who use the Wake-Up Club app. You can also get other accessories like a HORI screen protector (avoid screen-protectors from brands you do not trust), a grip so it's easier to hold, or simply an all-in-one travel kit. Future prospects If you're buying the Playstation Vita, you might be concerned over the future of the device. After all, at $250, it is a pretty pricey investment. Well right now, the Vita isn't doing well sales-wise currently selling ~25k monthly in the US and just as badly in Japan. That said, as a gamer, you should be more concerned over the upcoming game library instead of just the sales. I've included a list of upcoming Vita games below. Coconut Dodge Revitalized Velocity Ultra Total Recoil Kung Fu Rabbit Farming Simulator Dragon's Crown Real Boxing The Walking Dead: Season 1 Atelier Meruru Plus Rayman Legends Killzone: Mercenary FIFA 14 Tearaway Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate God of War Collection (1 and 2) Fieldrunners 2 Final Fantasy X HD Final Fantasy X-2 HD 1001 Spikes Atomic Ninjas The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth Bit.Trip Runner 2 CastleStorm ButtBerry Kingdom Frozen Synapse: Tactics Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee New and Tasty Oddworld: Munch's Oddysee Ys: Memories of Celceta Warriors Orochi 3 Ultimate Valhalla Knights 3 Terraria LEGO Marvel Super Heroes In addition to the games listed, there are also quite a few other indie and free-to-play games coming for the system. A full list of upcoming games can be found at the link. As detailed in the PS4 section, the Vita should also work well as a companion device for the PS4 so even if the aforementioned games don't quite tickle your fancy, you might still want to keep the system for use with the PS4. Conclusion Hopefully this tutorial has helped you solidify your Vita purchasing decision or help revitalize your understanding of the device. If you have anything to add or any suggestions, just post a comment right below.