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Tech Report – PlayStation Vita

Today marks the arrival of Sony’s new PlayStation Vita handheld gaming system. To be known as the PS Vita, the device is the successor to Sony’s venerable PlayStation Portable, or PSP, which was first introduced in March 2005.

Although the PS Vita clearly has its roots in the PSP, Sony has taken full advantage of the huge leap forward in mobile tech over the last six years, particularly in the screen technology of the latest smartphones and tablets. The PS Vita features a stunning 5-inch OLED multi-touch display, resulting in razor-sharp graphics whether you are playing games, watching video, or just surfing the Web.

The PS Vita includes rear and front-facing cameras, a six-axis tilt and steer motion sensor, dual analog sticks similar to a console controller, a rear multi-touch pad for even more control, and a GPS location system for connecting with friends and other PS Vita users (3G systems only).

The PS Vita also introduces some new cross-platform and multi-player features like Cross Play, which allows you to start a game on your PlayStation 3 console, pause the game, and then pick it up on your PS Vita right where you left off. You can also join multi-player games on your PS Vita and even play against players using their PS3 consoles.

There are over 25 PS Vita games available at the time of release, including Rayman Origins, Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, FIFA Soccer, Ridge Racer, and Michael Jackson The Experience. Dozens more are expected to be released over the next several months. The PS Vita is also backwards compatible with over 250 existing PSP titles and all the games can be instantly downloaded from the PlayStation Store.

The PS Vita also comes with an array of built-in apps, including Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Flickr and Netflix, as well music and video players, a web browser, and custom social networking and chat apps.

The PS Vita starts at $249 for the Wi-Fi only version. The PS Vita 3G + Wi-Fi system costs $299 and requires an AT&T DataConnect Pass month-to-month service plan. Choices are $14.99 per month for 250MB of data or $30 per month for 3GB.

One drawback with the PS Vita is that all downloads and installations must be carried out via custom PS Vita memory cards, which start at $20 and can add an unexpected cost to your portable gaming experience. Although the initial PS Vita 3G/Wi-Fi launch pack includes an 8GB memory card, it’s not known how long this special promotion will last.

The PS Vita is available from Sony, Amazon.com, Best Buy and all other major electronics retailers.

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