After a moderately successful seven-year-run in which the PlayStation Portable was hampered by piracy and frequent redesigns, Sony Computer Entertainment returns to the handheld market with the PlayStation Vita, also known as the "PSVita" or "PSV." Originally announced at the January 27, 2011 "PlayStation Meeting" under the codename "Next Generation Portable" or "NGP," the handheld was officially unveiled in June of the same year at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 where it received the name PlayStation Vita. Soon after, release dates of December 17, 2011 for Japan and February 22, 2012 for North America and Europe were announced.
The PlayStation Vita bears a strong visual resemblance to the PSP, retaining the sleek black look and oblong shape of its handheld forebear, and featuring the standard directional pad, "Left" and "Right" shoulder buttons, and "Circle," "Square," "Cross," and "Triangle" action buttons. The similarities are purely superficial though, as the PSVita offers the long-awaited dual analog sticks, a rear touch pad, stereo speakers, a microphone, a Sixaxis motion-detecting system featuring a gyroscope and an accelerometer, front and rear cameras with face-capture and head-tracking abilities, and a 5-inch (130 mm) organic light-emitting diode (OLED) touch screen.
The PSV is powered by a 32-bit quad-core processor and a quad-core GPU, and offers 512MB of system RAM and 128MB of visual RAM. The standard model PSVita offers Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR connectivity, while a second version of the handheld also includes 3G support, built in GPS features, and augmented reality software, with the 3G service being provided by AT&T in North America and Vodafone in Europe. Unlike the latter versions of the PSP, the Vita does not support video output or feature a removable battery. The device offers four online modes: "Near," which allows for local data sharing and discovery; "Party," which offers standard multiplayer gaming and includes cross-game text and chat; "Activity," which displays trophies and game ratings; and "LiveArea," a user interface that integrates social networking applications like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.
Software for the PSV comes in the form of proprietary PlayStation Vita cards that are roughly ¾ the size of 3DS game cartridges, while downloaded games, save files, and patches must be saved to memory cards that range in capacity from 2GB to 32GB. The system is backward compatible with downloadable PSP titles, and roughly two dozen games will be available at launch, including iterations of Sony franchise stalwarts like Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational, and Wipeout 2048. ~ Christopher Brown, All Game Guide