Sony's PlayStation Vita goes on sale Feb. 22, but if you pre-ordered the first edition bundle pack, today is the big unveiling. We'll wait for a full review when the Vita goes on sale, but here's what you need to know if you're thinking of grabbing the $250 (Wi-Fi only) game system. Portable gaming is changing just as much as console gaming or even PC gaming because of the smartphone revolution, so buying a new system now is a particularly challenging decision to make. Unless there is a particular game you can't wait to play, like Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3, on the go, maybe you'll be happy playing the cheap, relatively simple games so readily available on your smartphone.
But for people who travel a lot, Sony fans or just gadget lovers, expect a more polished device than even the PlayStation Portable. It weighs about 10 ounces and is around seven inches wide by 3.4-inches tall. It's quite large for stuffing into pockets in other words. The screen is packed with pixels (960x544p resolution), though by no means the finest resolution compared to modern smartphones. It's also the first portable gaming device to come with two analog sticks for super-fine, pinpoint accuracy. There are two cameras, but neither will produce a better image than even a middle range smartphone. Furthermore, there are three card slots on the top of the device. One is for the games, one is for the SIM card and the other is for the expansion memory cards. This is where Sony may have miscalculated a bit because instead of using a standard SD or microSD card, it's a much more expensive proprietary card. It's $100 for a 32 gigabyte card, and even if you download games to save 10%, it doesn't really pencil out in the long run because of the card price. Besides that, the number of games ready to play is not huge, but will grow over time, of course.
Some new fun features include a cross-game party chat that's great for rounding up your pals for some multiplayer action. There's no headset needed because there is a dedicated mic on the PS Vita, and this feature alone is sure to wow anyone who's used a similar feature on a console system. It even has its own social network called Near, and it lets people who are in close physical proximity. It's not a very smooth way to meet other gamers, but would be popular at gaming conventions.
PSVita also has a 5-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, optional 3G version ($300) and a three-axis gyroscope. It's battery is said to be good for roughly four hours of playing time and there is even a touch-sensitive pad on the back of the device for extra functionality. Some of the games ready for action are Little Deviants, Hot Shots Golf, Uncharted: Golden Abyss and ModNation Racers: Roadtrip. Tell us in the comments if you got the first edition bundle or if you are thinking of getting a PS Vita on the Feb. 22 release date.