Last Monday, Sony formally announced the PlayStation Vita at its press conference. In Inside Anime Expo, I correctly predicted a $250 price point and that one of the main markets will see the console near the end of 2011. Sony also announced that the console will have a 3G version whose internet will be supplied by AT&T with a retail price of $300.
Since the announcement, a trickle of information has been coming out about Sony's successor to the PSP. In Examiner, we learned that each console will be sold at a loss. Interviews with Sony staff suggest that the battery life of the console will be between 4-5 hours. The first released will be known as PCH-1000, and if the PSP is any precedent that there will be a PCH-2000 in the future. In all the PS Vita consoles, there will be no internal memory, the consumer has to buy Sony's Proprietary flash memory.
CPU: ARM® Cortex™- A9 core (4 core) - A two-core version of the system can be found in the Apple iPad 2. It is expected that the four-core version that is similar to the PSP will be found in the iPad 2's successor. The CPU can be clocked from 800 MHz to 2.0 GHz, we don't know the Vita's exact specs.
GPU: SGX543MP4+ - A four core, Power VR GPU. It is capable of rendering 134 million polygons. It has a fully programmable GPU that is fully compliant with OpenGL 2.0 and DirectX 10.1. In short, the GPU is an impressive GPU that will put previous handheld consoles to shame.
Other neat stuff: OLED screen, GPS, 802.11n Wireless
What does it all mean?
Impressive Graphics: It has been suggested that the PS Vita has graphics that is similar to a PlayStation 3. When the games were announced it seems that the rumors are correct. While the graphics are below what you would expect from a PS3 game polygon-wise, the textures and the vector and pixel shaders are very nice. The key difference between the 3DS and the PS Vita is that the 3DS has fixed function shaders, while the PS Vita has fully programmable shaders.
Game Lineup: The game lineup shown at E3 is heavily western oriented, which is suggesting that the first market that may see release will either be Europe or America. The fact that E3 is a convention for the western market is not lost on me, but a more Japan-centric lineup in the demo reel would have suggested that it would see release in Japan first. It is well known that the PSP had issues with western games in the past due to the general apathy that western development houses have with portable consoles and a shrinking market, so it is unknown if western support will be any different than the PSP. On the bright side, the PSP's strong Japanese support guarantees that the console will see a nice lineup of games with a Japanese origin.
Sony Wants the Market: After getting burned by the high losses from the PlayStation 3, everyone was expecting Sony to be very conservative with the PSP Vita. All signs pointed to the console being sold for an initial small loss to a very minor profit. With the aggressive console pricing which puts it at parity with Nintendo's 3DS (at the moment) combined with Sony's willingness to accept loss over the course of the next three years, Sony is determined to take a large chunk of the handheld console market away from Nintendo. With a late 2011 release in one territory, Nintendo still has plenty of time to gain a price advantage over Sony. I am expecting Nintendo to drop the price of the Nintendo 3DS to $200 before the PS Vita is released.
I would write more, but with the release date a long distance away it is merely speculation on what Sony plans to do to gain a foothold with the second handheld console. I am excited about the product and I hope the intense future competition between Sony and Nintendo will force both companies to produce amazing and innovative games. All signs are pointing to Sony doubling down in the handheld console market with the hope that it will provide the organization with even higher potential chances of financial success, and I wish them the best. When the PS Vita is released, look for me in line waiting for it, playing on my Nintendo 3DS to pass the time.