The New PS Vita arrives this week, bringing with it a slimline body, build-in memory and a better battery life. There is one compromise - the beautiful OLED screen is gone, however, sometimes you need to sacrifice something in order to improve on other areas.
I'm guessing that the biggest concern for those considering a Vita is if the removal of the OLED screen is a big loss, after all, the OLED was surely a big selling point. To consider the answer to this question, first of all you really need to decide what it is you are looking for in a portable machine. Are you willing to sacrifice a small amount of viewing quality for a lighter device with built-in memory and a longer battery life, for this would not have been possible should Sony have stuck with OLED. You also have to remember that LCD screens have moved on considerably when it comes to quality. No longer are viewing angle poor and colours washed out. Indeed if you have never had a PS Vita before then I'm guessing you'll be more than happy with your first experience of the new PS Vita. Do none of the advantages matter to you? Do you want a OLED Vita no matter what? Then you better be quick because once they are gone, you're only option will be the new PCH-2003 model.
So you've had a think about it and now you want to know more. So let me talk you through my experience of comparing the two machines and help you decide which model is for you.
I've been using my launch Vita model since the machine arrived in the UK and I've been very happy with it. Despite all the arguments of there being no games, I've never had any issues whatsoever, be it with the range of titles (which incidentally stand at over 100 releases now) or with the machine itself. The original PS Vita is solidly built and my current model is still going strong. Now of course I have a few gripes with it. The battery life is not wonderful, while the lack of built in memory is quite frustrating. I have a dock for charging, but the fact I couldn't use a standard phone charger cable was a little bit of a hinderance. Other than that though, I've been pretty happy up until now and I see no reason for that to change.
Today I took delivery for review of the PCH-2003 model, given the above information, you can probably tell that it's not particularly something I would have purchased, however from first impressions I'd probably be just as happy had I had this model for the past two years.
The first thing I noticed when handling this new slimline Vita is just that - it feels much slimmer, but more than that, lighter too. The weight is probably the most notable difference, it's something that stands out straight away. The original Vita is far from heavy, however when you get the Slim in between your palms, suddenly the latter feels like a brick. There are other cosmetic differences too. The screen on the Slim has a recessed rectangular line around it, which gives it a 'bigger' feel, although comparing the two side by side both screens are the same size. Some of the buttons, such as 'start' and 'select', are now rounded, while the grip on the back of the system are more substantial. The memory card slot is still on top, although the EXT port has been removed completely.
One of the main changes gamers may notice is that the analogue sticks seem to be slightly more raised as well as having a little more give. It's not a huge difference really, but certainly a welcome one as the analogue sticks on the Vita can be a little fiddly to use depending on the game. One final aesthetic change is that the system is now charged using a more standard USB/mobile cable which is certainly welcome.
I've already mentioned that the OLED screen has been replaced by an LCD, but would like to state again that the sacrifice is not as huge as you might think. There is no denying that the OLED is a better screen and out performs the Slim when it comes to black, colours and the viewing angle. However, in saying that, when playing a Vita you generally look at it face on, so viewing angles are hardly an issue and if you've never owned a Vita previously then it's highly doubtful that you'll have any complains about the quality of the picture as the Slim seems to be packing in a very capable LCD screen.
In any case, to make up for the lack of OLED, Sony has added in 1GB of built in memory, meaning you can now play and save at least some games straight from the off, something that the original model was not capable of, more memory would have been nice, but you can't have everything. In addition, you also have a better battery life, giving you six hours of gaming time compared to the original's 4-5.
Should you buy the new Vita? Well if you are interested in the system and are worried about the removal of the OLED then I would hope the above would calm your fears. If the OLED is a big factor for you then buy one now. If however you are considering a Vita later in the year or would just like something a little lighter to carry around in your pocket then you needn't worry about the quality on offer here. The PS Vita Slim (PCH-2003) is a very capable machine, with the build quality to match. Whether it's good enough to meet your purpose is for you to decide, but you can be sure that you won't be disappointed should you decide to add it to your household.
Words by Joe Anderson
@_wotta | PSN: wotta / XBLA: wotta
(Version Tested: PS Vita - PCH 2003 Model)
+ Added battery life
+ Analogue sticks slightly more raised / feel more loose
+ Charges via USB
- New LCD screen is a slight compromise