Now in all the designer colors of the iPod mini
Nintendo isn’t the only one releasing a new model of their current handheld, Sony has announced that on October 10th, Japan will be receiving a new slimmer PS Vita model. Let’s dig inside the nuts and bolts of the new handheld.
Firstly, the slimmer PSV follows the same notion as the usual updates to the PSP, the new PSV is 20% thinner and 15% lighter. With the revised construction, the battery life has been extended by one hour. Included with the system is a paltry 1GB of memory and new pricing for the memory cards. Most notably, the OLED screen has been replaced by a cheaper LCD screen and now the system comes in six colors. The new model will sell for the equivalent of $190 dollars in Japan with no word of a Western release while the old model has been slashed down to $200 over here.
A much needed revision
The original battery life was notorious. Even though five hours of gaming sounds like a long time, just by having the system on sleep mode and walking around with it like a phone (which is what Sony intended from the advertising blitz), ends up with you needing to fully recharge it every day. The OLED screen being downgraded to an LCD helps cut corners on expense and power consumption so it’s all part of the technical improvements to the system. On the cost end, the slim Vita only has a Wi-Fi model and no 3G subscription model, which is a boon since its usage doesn’t seem to have made much impact. 3G is welcome but the separate subscription fees to AT&T were not.
This is Sony’s bank on a comeback.
3DS sales currently are a bit under ten times more than Vita sales and Sony needs to do something in order to get their handheld off life-support. The original PSV was a monster of a cost, totaling $300 dollars for a behemoth of pure power, so definitely starting with cheaper price tags makes the system more “casual friendly”. Yeah, many will complain and moan about the loss of the OLED screen, but it is a budget option. Those with more money to burn can easily opt for the more expensive model, even though it’s just ten dollars more. On a better note concerning costs, the expensive memory cards have taken a slight discount, even though I’d say paying $15 for 4GB of storage is nearly criminal. The inclusion of 1GB of on-board memory is a plus, but expect it to fill up quickly. Still it was almost ridiculous to have no on-board memory these days, so it’s something.
But will it work?
In light of design mistakes of the past, Sony is aggressively trying to make their system a hit by finding every reason to lower a price tag for the Vita, if at least in Japan. Don’t forget the inclusion of the Playstation Vita TV for Japan in November, which is a “home console Vita” costing only about $100. PS Vita TV removes the portable part of the Vita, but it at least puts Vita games in players’ hands, if perhaps to encourage buying a Vita itself. The catch however, is that players might just be fine paying a mere $100 to play their favorite Vita/PSP/PS1 games and never even touch the pricey handheld. Sony is trying to make their handheld relevant and is pulling in many different directions. There is a chance for success but not in so much to usurp the mighty 3DS yet. Making the system cost-effective however, is a good first start, and so is emphasizing PS4 connectivity. Now the real challenge is to give the Vita an image, whether it’s by AAA quality games, having a demographic to zero-in on, or some third focus. Then and only then will the Vita have its hat in the ring. Join me next time when I put on a twelve hour puppet show.
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