Thursday, February 16, 2012

Playstation Vita


PS Vita

Some very early impressions:
- Got the first edition bundle from amazon $350.  It came in yesterday.  It comes with a 4GB memory card (proprietary, yes FU sony), a pretty nice case, and the Little Deviants game.
- Yes I wanted 3G but I won't ever use the outrageous at&t data plans.  I'll be using my walmart virgin mobile mifi if I ever need internet on the go.  I figure the 3g will be handy for any gps location based services though it apparently will approximate with just wifi.
- I also picked up Uncharted Golden Abyss.  Uggg $50 from amazon:
- I also picked up the official screen protector made by sony for $10 from fry's.
- A class 10 32gb sdhc card cost around $33.  A 32 gb vita memory card is $100.  FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU SONY!!!!!!!!!!
- I installed the screen protector pretty much perfectly without issue.  It has a handy alignment sheet that makes it pretty easy to get it on right.  Just do the usual clean room technique (steamy bathroom, scotch tape to lift every last bit of lint/dust off the screen before applying, smooth out air bubbles with a toothpick, use a piece of scotch tape to lift and re-position if you don't nail it on the first try).  It's very clear and feels pretty good to glide your finger across it.
- It's big and pretty heavy but it does look nice as far as the actual physical design and feels good in the hands.  I can say after a few hours of play it still feels quite comfortable to hold.
- The analog sticks work better than the psp and tons better than a touch screen but don't expect the precision of a full sized controller.  There just isn't enough travel distance in those tiny analog sticks so you have to use a gentle touch or turn down sensitivity a bit in games like Uncharted to make aiming easier.  I need a real fps to give it a really good try.
- Battery life states between 3-5 hrs while gaming.  From drain tests I've read it out performs the 3ds by quite a bit.  I played uncharted for about 1.5 hrs last night and the battery only went down maybe 25%.  So far I'm quite impressed with the battery life.
- Battery is NOT removable.  FU SONY!!!!  Having had a battery completely die in one of my recent dual shock 3 controllers this does NOT bode well.  
- It comes with a 5v, 1.5A power supply and a usb cable that terminates to the proprietary vita port.  You can also charge off of any usb port but that only supplies 500ma standard so you can't do it while in stand by.  You must completely power off the vita.  I love how nobody follows any standards for > 500ma usb power charging.  Apple, hp touchpad, vita, all these devices won't charge at > 500ma without their own proprietary charges.  There really needs to be a global standard for high amp usb charging.  FYI, my iPhone chargers don't seem to work at all but hooking it up to a pc does work.  So it seems pretty picky about what usb chargers will work with this thing.  Make sure you enable usb charging in the settings.  It's a checkbox you must check.  I believe it is off by default.
- The big OLED display is rather stunning.
- This thing has a mass of ports and slots: you have the sim card slot on the left, the memory card slot on the bottom, headphone jack on the bottom, the vita game card slot on the top along with an odd accessory port.  
- A2DP stereo bluetooth headphones work great.  I can even prioritize using the mic on the headset over the built in vita mic.
- It's awesome that every game released on retail shelves you can buy and download through PSN.  These download version seem to be around $5 off the full retail price.  Games take a lot of space though.  Uncharted is 3.2GB and wipeout is 1.6GB.  If you are going to go all download then you'll probably need that 32GB memory card but I think that beats having to keep track of a bunch of tiny game cards.
- It uses a sheets metaphore that you can then rip off and discard to close running apps.  It's similar to the cards in webOS.  On the sheet there are usually links to the game's website and if there is an update there will be a little download icon.  I like it! 
- The basic home screen is very similar to iOS except landscape oriented.  It works fine.
- What is up with background downloads.  It seems to work fine when just messing around on the home screen but as soon as the system goes into standby the download stops.  Worse yet you can't turn off auto stand by (only adjust between 1-5 min) EVEN when connected to the power adapter.  The only way I can make this thing stay on is to take a few pictures with the camera and then set it to slideshow mode.  That seems to be the work around to keep the device on when you are trying to download multi GB games.  UPDATE:  It seems that backgrounds DO work if you let the auto sleep kick in.  If you manually put it in stand by then the download stops.  If you let 1 - 5 min elapse without touching it (depending on your setting) then downloads will continue with or without power.  Still, it would have been better if it was more consistent (again more silly sony confusion).
- The first thing you need to do when you turn it on?  You guessed it....system update.  What's worse about it is it won't let you sign in with your existing psn account until you update but the initial setup wizard won't let you finish until you sign in to psn so you have to do this really confusing thing and pick demo psn account or something just to get past the initial setup.  After that, you can do a system update and then sign in with your existing PSN account.
- Tried remote play very briefly with the ps3.  It works but I don't think I'll use it much.  There just isn't much support for it.
- Since the memory card is proprietary it's a good thing it has a built in content management app.  This thing lets you backup and transfer data between your Vita and a ps3 or your pc/mac (after you install a little tray application).  You can transfer individual pieces of media both directions including your downloaded games and saves or do an entire system backup/restore.  It will be handy when moving from the 4GB to the 32GB memory card.  FYI, vita shows up in file explorer but doesn't list anything.
- Packaging is almost non existent.  Apparently Sony no longer prints any manuals.  Games come with just the game card in the box and NOTHING else.  There isn't even a printed vita manual.  They want you to get all that stuff either on the vita or the web. 
- It has the usual mp3, video player etc and some location based social network thing called near.  I'll have to dig into that more later.
- UPDATE: I just got my 32GB memory card.  I had recently did a complete backup of the 4GB and just restored to my new 32GB and it worked great.
- I did have one case where the vita completely locked up.  I was testing the camera and shot a few photos.  Then I tried a movie and at 10 sec it just stopped and saved "saving" and there it sat.  To force a power off you have to hold the power button down like 15 sec.  The movie mode worked fine the second time I tried it.
- OLED still looks pretty bad in direct sunlight even at full brightness.

Uncharted

- I love the series and have finished the first 2 games.  I'll pick up #3 when it's a bit cheaper.  With about 1.5 hrs into it so far it's almost every bit as good as the ps3 versions.  The graphics and framerate are great. The writing isn't quite as sharp but the voice acting is still solid.  There is a variety of control methods.  I like how there are in many cases 2 -3 ways to do things either with the newfangled touch  (front and back) and tilt or traditional controls.  This game really does try to accommodate every type of player.
- They really beefed up the collecting aspect and some of it seems a tad less optional.
- I found aiming a bit more difficult with the tiny analog sticks so I turned on auto aim (it's off by default) which helps a lot.

Little Deviants
- I tried it for like 5 min.  It seems like your typical collection of mini games that demo every input aspect of the device with augmented reality gyro stuff thrown in.  I'll have to spend a bit more time to get any kind of real impression.

Wipeout 2048
- I decided to buy this game over PSN.  The graphics are great!  It's the wipeout that you know and love.  Load times are pretty horrible.  PSN purchased games of course work just fine without an internet connect.

Super Stardust
- Picked up the complete package for $15 on PSN.  It makes really nice use of all the input features of the vita.  Dual sticks work great obviously.  Tilt is only used to make some camera angle adjustments which you can reset what neutral is.  Back touch pad is used for making black holes.  It all works really well.

Recommended with reservations.  I think it's a bit pricey right now for what you get.  It's proprietary all as heck and  they price gouge you at every opportunity.  In the age where we are use to 99 cents - $10 games on tablets and phones that look pretty good trying to swallow a $50 game is kind of hard.  Yes, you can see how much more meaty, high production values, AAA ish the titles are but that is a LOT more money to ask for.  $30 would have felt more appropriate IMO.  I don't think 3G is worth it so the $250 base model is probably the better deal.  Just realize you pretty much have to buy a memory card and if you plan to go all download just eat the $100 and get the 32GB.  The 4GB really is too small.  If you have the disposable income and you crave that ps3 like console experience with real controls in a portable package then yeah I don't think you will be disappointed.  If you are an uncharted fan then that alone justifies the system purchase at least for me.


UPDATE 2/24/2012:

 
From ps vita
Thanks to the anonymous comment that posted a link on how to modify a usb extension cable so you can charge the Vita with pretty much any usb charger.  I decided to give it a try.  The modification took maybe 10 min to do and wasn't hard at all.  Just make sure you cut carefully and you won't even cut the red and black wires.  I tested it out with a variety of usb chargers, iphone charger, and external batteries and they all worked great while the Vita was completely off and even in stand by.  I added more photos to the album.

- I tried a bunch more demos.  Unit 13 is a pretty good 3rd person shooter.  The aiming with the right analog stick seems to work better than uncharted.  I might get the full version when it comes out.
- I was never a Rayman fan or really that much into platformers but I completed Rayman Origins demo, and it was a lot more fun than I expected.  The graphics and art really are great, and the controls are spot on.
- Lumines is well a really pretty lumines.  I remember playing it quite a bit with my launch psp but I think I'm pretty much done with lumines.
- Asphalt is your typical iOS gameloft game.  It's not a bad burnout ripoff but it isn't particularly great or inspired.  Same with Dungeon Hunter.  I have pretty much all the gameloft games (I always grab them when they is a 99 cent sale), and at that price point I think they are much more worth it.
- A bunch of apps came out.  Netflix looks nice on the oled and works well.  There are also flickr, facebook, twitter, etc apps out now.
- Have you noticed almost nobody includes a wrist strap anymore?  Anyways, I found some on ebay.  You get 20 for $3 shipped (seller: supersaving360).  

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