Customer Review

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars High quality portable game console held back by unwise business strategy, 29 Oct. 2013
= Fun:5.0 out of 5 stars 
This review is from: Sony PS Vita (Wi-Fi only) (PlayStation Vita) (Console)
In terms of the technology and the hardware the Playstation Vita (PSV) is arguably still the most high quality and powerful portable game console at the moment, and it has already been released for nearly 2 years. It's the only portable console that features dual analog sticks (The Nintendo 3DS needs an extra accessory to have this feature), an OLED high-resolution screen, and very impressive RAM and graphics processing power. The 3DS is a good portable console as well in its own way, and the recently released (only in North America) Nvidia Shield has even higher specs than the PSV, but being twice the price of the PSV and more than twice as heavy, the Nvidia Shield is unlike to be as popular among most regular gamers apart from relatively hardcore ones or those with a lot of money to spare, while the lack of a dual stick and a lower screen resolution means the 3DS is not as effective at playing the bigger and more graphics-intensive FPS and Action RPG titles.

The hardware of PSV is not only high quality and high-end, but also very versatile. In terms of its graphics quality it's not as good as Xbox 360/PS3, but with games that utilise its hardware to the maximum it actually beats Xbox/PS2 standard. Yet the PSV that can play graphics-intensive PS3-style games at only a slightly reduced detail level is also very effective at playing iPhone and Android-style casual "minigames" using its high-quality and high-resolution multi-touch capacitive 5-inch touchscreen which is just as responsive as the best quality touchscreens on the latest iPhones or Samsung Galaxy. This is something one would find difficult to do with the more powerful Nvidia Shield as its touchscreen is less directly accessible. You can even use the PSV as a MP4 player and even a mini-tablet in a limited sense, since it can run popular non-gaming apps such as YouTube, Facebook, Email client, Twitter, Netflix and Skype quite effectively and its Internet browser is also reasonably fast and can open most types of web pages without problem, though some video codecs are not supported so one cannot view all videos on YouTube or on the Internet for example without hacking the system software oneself. This is something you cannot do on the 3DS with its very limited video playback capability (Netflix is only available in the US for the 3DS and YouTube cannot run on it) and poor Internet browser that is not only slow but also cannot access the more memory-intensive and long web pages. Therefore potentially the PSV can be attractive to nearly every type of gamer, from the relatively hardcore to the most casual.

Yet for all of its potential technological capability and versatility, Sony has not really marketed this product in an effective way. If the PSV is not doing as well commercially as it should have been, it's certainly not due to any faults in its technology or hardware. Sony has simply done many things (relatively "trivial" ones from a technological perspective which could have easily been quite different) which are not conducive to fully realising this portable console's true potential. The PSV is at the moment being held back by unwise business plans and designs, from Sony's decision to use a PSV-specific memory card on a system that has no built-in storage memory (with these memory cards costing more than the regular ones too) and it's decision to only allow backward compatibility for downloadable PSP titles rather than for physical UMDs (things which could easily have been different without any extra production cost), or the limited number of game developers that Sony allows to make games for the PSV (compared with the huge number of iOS and Android game developers, even though the PSV is potentially versatile enough to compete with them on the casual game market too with its relatively light weight, high-quality and large high-resolution touch screen and a considerably cheaper price than current high-end smartphones, even a lot of the smaller "minigames" in the PSV online store are just as cheap as comparable ones in the iPhone App Store or Android Google Play), or Sony's decision to not allow the PSV to play most PS3 games (including big popular titles like Skyrim and Mass Effect) via Remote Play without some kind of software hacking by the user (which is not easy to do) even though the hardware is certainly capable of achieving this without any problems or issues what-so-ever. (Sony has even publicly demonstrated some of this Remote Play feature to show off the PSV's capabilities but for some reason didn't realise much of it in the concrete sense) There is simply no strategic sense in these business decisions, and the superb hardware of the PSV is being limited and held back by these arbitrary design limitations so that the console is unfortunately not realising its full potential at the moment.

Having said this, if you want to really experience high-end console or PC gaming on a portable device, or even if you simply like portable gaming for its own sake and play mostly casual or semi-casual games, the PSV which possesses both quality and versatility is certainly one for you to seriously consider to buy (and recently its price has dropped considerably too compared with the original launch price). Just keep in mind these design limitations mentioned above which Sony has created for no good reason that undoubtedly holds back the PSV from fully realising its maximum gaming potential (and hence sale figures and commercial success too).
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