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3DS vs Vita - Multimedia Powerhouse
on February 23, 2012
**I wrote a pretty big review on the 3DS, and as I mentioned in that review, I definitely was going to write one for the vita. I usually support my reviews for a while, so I will be reading all comments and will keep updating the review over the next few weeks as I learn more and more. Please do comment with any info you have and I'll edit the review**
In short, the Playstation Vita is an amazing multimedia device packed with tons of cool features. We all know it's an amazing system and I won't be talking specifically about every single feature -- I'll leave that to Sony and the Amazon description. Instead, I'll look at in comparison to the 3DS and how it functions as a multimedia device overall (in comparison to mobile phones, iPods, etc). I also will give you a run down on what makes the Vita a great system and what limitations it has.
1) Ridiculous hardware. Very powerful GPU and processor for a handheld system. This thing blows the 3DS graphics out of the water and don't even try comparing it to mobile app games graphic-wise. I wouldn't say the graphics are quite PS3 level from my time with Uncharted, but they're pretty close. The analog sticks protrude from the system a tad more than the original PSP's did and are a bit on the small side, but they still feel solid and having two analog sticks is a huge plus for most games.
2) Beautiful Screen. The screen is very high resolution and is very large. The screen is a 5 inch OLED and is actually very bright. On max brightness, this shuts out lots of glare that usually plague mobile devices, so you could definitely use this in bright environments.
3) Strong Launch Line-up. There are a few solid launch titles and many more in the near future.
4) Cross Game chat and Trophy support for games. The Vita finally brings cross game voice chat (something which PS3 users have been wanting for ages).
5) Huge multimedia potential. You can transfer over music or videos (you may have to convert them into the few formats that the Vita recognizes though), stream things through Netflix or a media center PC, or get content off of the PSN (Playstation Network). Combined with the gorgeous screen, multimedia on the go will be awesome.
1) Memory cards. What you need to know: for major games, YOU HAVE TO BUY A MEMORY CARD to save your game data (Uncharted is one of these games). The memory cards are in a new Sony format that are a bit pricy ($20 for 4GB, $30 for 8GB, $60 for 16GB , $100 for 32GB). I wish Sony would have used SD cards like the 3DS or even micro-SD cards if they wanted something smaller. Maybe they did it to combat piracy (which was hugely rampant on the PSP), maybe to make a bit extra money instead of losing money to the SD card manufacturers. In any case, it's annoying to us consumers. It's also kind of ridiculous that after paying $250 that the system comes with no storage space. If the device had a built in 8GB of storage, it would be much more competitive. Remember, the memory card is where you'll be saving game data for big games, music, movies, and whatever you download from the Playstation Network. Without a memory card, you're missing out on the full multimedia potential of the Vita.
2) Mediocre / Poor Battery Life. As much as I hate to admit it, it seems like bad battery life is a trend in all of our electronics now. Sony officially claims about 3-5 hours for gameplay, which is just about as much as you'll get with the 3DS. From personal usage, I've been through two charge cycles already - I timed the second one ( and from 100% to 10% while playing Uncharted in just a tad over 3 hours.
3) Not so pocket-able. This device is actually kind of big for a portable gaming device. It doesn't fit in my jeans, but does nicely fit in my basketball and cargo shorts. For a mobile device, it's on the large end. It will definitely be bigger than your phone. It's kind of in an awkward zone - it's way smaller than a tablet, but noticeably bigger than phones. Also the protruding analog sticks don't help the portability case any.
4) Limited Backwards Compatibility. There is no UMD slot on the Vita, so you can't play physical PSP games. There's a big list of digital PSP games that you can play on the Vita, but not all of them. Sony claims to be expanding the list and hopefully we'll one day see all PSP titles on the Playstation Store. Also, currently the PS-One classics from the Playstation Store can't be played on the Vita. Sony also said they're going to work on this, but until then, there's no chance for me to catch up and finally beat some of those PS1 Final Fantasy titles while on the go. Also, the PS2 Games on the PSN aren't playable on the Vita and Sony hasn't said anything about that yet. Other than that, the Vita can play all other PSN games and minis.
3DS ($170 / formerly $250) vs VITA ($250 / $300)
1) Games: It's a bit unfair to compare at the moment because the 3DS has been out much longer than the Vita. At the moment, I'd have to say the 3DS has the better library with games like Ocarina of Time, Super Mario 3D Land, Mario Kart 7, StarFox, etc. Sony has some solid games already on launch though, which the 3DS lacked. If you look back, you'll quickly find out that people used to complain about the 3DS to no end because there was such a lack of games. The Vita has started strong and has a timeline of great games to come.
2) Hardware: Graphics-wise, there's really no comparison. The Vita completely blows away the 3DS. The screen on the Vita is a higher resolution and far greater quality. The touch screen on the vita uses different technology so the screen doesn't respond to stylus or pressure - it uses newer capacitive technology that only detects your finger. Both systems have pretty bad cameras, but the Vita's are noticeably better. Button wise, the Vita has the upperhand with two analog sticks, but I'll have to admit that personally I like the analog stick on the 3DS much more than the ones on the Vita. Two analog sticks will make most games, especially shooters, have better controls on the Vita.
3) Multimedia Potential: I'm going to have to give this one to the Vita. It has better speakers, a far better screen, and has a massive online network to get movies from. The 3DS does use SD cards which are better cost-wise for storing large amounts of music and videos, but the presentation on the Vita is just better.
4) Online: Nintendo really dropped the ball on creating an online network and online multiplayer. Although I do like Xbox Live's online interface the best, the PSN is still miles and miles ahead of Nintendo with cross game chat and a network that is ridiculous better in almost every way.Even adding friends is a pain on the 3DS. The Vita on the other hand has a real network and is much more professional and easy to use.
5) Other Features and Gimmicks: The 3DS obviously has 3D which is what makes it stand out compared to the Vita. The 3D is a huge selling point to a lot of people, and I will say it is pretty cool, especially in games that use it well such as Ocarina of Time and Super Mario 3D Land. Personally, after the "oooh aahhh" period in each game, I just turned off the 3D on my 3DS. 3D isn't a big concern to me, but to a lot of people it probably makes the 3DS much more appealing. Both have accelerometers and gyroscopes for tilting and doing random things in games. Both have the augmented reality cards which lets games create battles and games right in front of your eyes in "real life".
6) Portability: Both have the same 3-5 hours of battery life for games and last around 8-10 hours for music. The poor battery life limits both systems forcing you to bring the charger on any long trip. The 3DS is much more pocket-able since the clamshell design lets you fold it and just stick it in your pocket. The Vita is bigger and will most likely jut out of jeans pockets. Actually, the more I think of it, the Vita's size is really awkward - it's too big for pocketing but way too small to be compared to a tablet.
7) Price. This is always a concern and indeed the Vita (WiFi) is $80 more than the 3DS. That's basically the price of two games. The Vita is bringing more to the table hardware-wise which explains the higher price. Sony systems usually do cost more than Nintendo, but it'll be to you when deciding which one to buy.
3DS vs Vita Conclusion:
They're both pretty different systems and in an ideal world, you should own both. But when we come back to reality and have money limitations, you'll have to make your pick. The 3DS is already established and has a dozen solid titles on the market, the Vita is just coming out but still has many good games planned. The Vita definitely outclasses the 3DS in terms of hardware, multimedia support, and game If you're a parent, you may sway toward Nintendo giving their reputation of making more family friendly and imaginative game, whereas Sony has a reputation of building solid hardware for a more "core" group of gamers. We'll see what happens this time around.
Is the Vita worth $250 - in my opinion, yes! You get a system packed with the potential for great gameplay and multimedia.
Is the Vita better than the 3DS? - well, that's a bit more complicated and I'll have to say that depends on what you want from your system.
Should I buy the 3G Vita for $300 or the WiFi for $250? I honestly was never going to pay a monthly subscription ($15 for 250mb of $30 for 3GB with AT&T) for 3G, so buying a 3G vita would have been a waste. That's why I went with the WiFi version to save money. The 3G version can do WiFi too - it just has the potential to be used in a 3G data plan. So, if you think 3G is a thing that you would pay for and find internet on the go useful, go ahead and buy the 3G. Otherwise, save your money and get the WiFi.
I'll add more to this review as I find out more. Feel free to comment if I missed anything, if you have something to add, or if you just want to rage at me. I'll definitely be updating this as I play around with the system more.