Japanese electronics giant Sony has triggered a mania among gamers in Japan by releasing Sony PlayStation Vita (PSVita) on Dec. 17.

The launch event triggered a frenzy as the gamers have been waiting for seven years to get this new handheld console as a follow-up model of PSP2 (Sony PlayStation Portable 2). Braving chilling weather, hundreds of people had lined up in front of every major game store or shopping center to get their hands on the portable gaming console. Tokyo’s Ikebukuro shopping district was thronging with Japanese teenagers, who were jostling with each other to be among the first to buy PS Vita.

Year 2011 wasn't a good year for Sony - besides the Tsunami in Japan, which crippled the nation's economy for several months, Sony struggled to keep up ahead of rivals such as Nintendo (maker of Wii) and Microsoft (maker of Xbox) and the fierce competition took its toll with Sony announcing annual loss of more than $1 billion. Sony now hopes that PS Vita would raise the gaming sensation in Japan and help the company revive its past glory. But will it be possible, considering that in the past 7 years the gaming market has expanded its boundaries to include smartphones and tablet PCs?

It seems that Sony has put in considerable effort to develop PS Vita. Compared to previous models, PSP, PS Vita has got outstanding function and features. Its mobile processor and graphics have been reinforced with quad-core ARM Cortex A9 and GPU with SGX543MP4+. PS Vita also boasts of 512MB RAM and a stunning 5'' OLED multitouch screen (with 960x544 pixels resolution), while multitouch pad in the rear and dual analog sticks will give freer hand control than ever.

PS Vita also supports 3G/WiFi network that will enable gamers to enjoy online multiplayer games, be connected to PSN (PlayStation Network), get real-time scores, rankings and news feeds. Built-in GPS, front- and rear-facing cameras, six-axis motion sensing system (three-axis gyroscope, three-axis accelerometer) and social networking apps are the icing on the cake.

Not surprisingly, Sony's hope is embedded in PS Vita. But can it become the leading gaming device of year 2012? I'm afraid not. Firstly, the device is not cheap (price starts at $250) and though PS Vita boasts of multimedia and multitouch functions, the device cannot boast of bringing a totally new concept of gaming, smartphones and tablet PCs already feature the same.

However, to those who love 'PSP' and are very satisfied with it, PS Vita would be a great gift. But to those who expect something more compelling and attractive from this than what smartphones and tablet PCs can provide, will be left disappointed.

To wean away gamers from smartphones and tablet PCs, PS Vita needs to bring some 'unique and attractive contents' as its hardware isn't its strongest selling-point.

PS Vita will debut in the US in February.

Check out the video clip of Sony PlayStation Vita: