The Plastation Vita (which held the name "NGP" or "Next Generation Portable" before the initial release) is my personal favourite handheld gaming console and I don't believe it was a complete failure in the market (it's a real shame Sony deemed it as such). This is going to be a shorter article because I just wanted to give the Vita some public love.
I'm going to divide this into two parts (pros and cons), with a bias, 20-word conclusion at the end. So, without further adieu, here are some of the things I love about my Vita:
I'm usually a huge fan of free software, but I have a soft spot for the Vita's default firmware. I mean seriously, the bubble icons are adorable & kind of professional looking at the same time!
I can't help but be impressed by this piece of software, it all just feels so intuitive. It might just be me, but Vita OS is the best mobile operating system I've ever used. Instead of swiping down from the top or bottom of the screen (on iOS/Android) to access the "Quick Menu" (used to turn Wifi or Bluetooth on/off and change brightness), simply hold down the "PS" button. On Nintendo's 3DS you would need to suspend the application and find the settings menu on the top-left to change these settings!
I also love the variety of colours and effects available for backgrounds (you can add an image to the background if you prefer)
Another nice thing is that there's a way to see all your open applications. In th home menu just press the PS button and you'll see this neat, clean little list of all your open apps! (I just wish there was a way to remove those ads!)
It took me a while to think about this one. Some people may see the rear touchpad as a bad thing, but the idea is actually pretty cool!
The PS Vita 2000 implements the rear touchpad better by adding larger pads to rest your fingers on, but my 1000 still does a good enough job, at least to the extent where it isn't uncomfortable.
Not a lot of games use the rear touchpad for anything, but when they do I feel like it's a pretty unique experience (there is an option in Jet Set Radio to control the camera with the touchpad. In Little Big Planet there are certain platforms that you cannot jump on until you hit them with the touchpad. Many apps and games do small things like this, I find it cute, fun & sometimes handy)
The Vita isn't known for having a whole lot of games, but let me just say... The Vita has a whole lot of games.
Now, I'm talking about good, real games. The Apple App Store, Nintendo eShop & Sony's PS Store are basically software repositories for specific machines. If I made my own video game console with my own store on it and just sold ten billion "Hello, World!" programs, I could gloat about having "Ten *billion* games in the store!", so let's remove quantity from this section.
We all know the very best Nintendo games are the ones Nintendo designs and makes themselves, I believe it is the same way with Sony. The issue here is that Sony gave up on the Vita very (very) early on, so the only top-notch video games we have are the ones that showcase the features of the system: "Gravity Rush", "Tearaway" "Little Big Planet" and the like.
However, the good thing about the Vita, is that even though Sony stopped producing official games for it, there are still some amazing titles available ("Hohokum", "Limbo", "Jet Set Radio HD" and "Proteus" to name a few). The Vita is doing extremely well even without official support!.
I have heard some people say that they are not satisfied with the Vita's battery life, but mine lasts all day when it isn't connected to the Internet (most of the time I'm on airplane mode because I'm not a huge online person). I also disabled notifications and removed my "Start on boot" programs. I don't think you need to check for updates every time you boot your system
As much as I love the Vita (a lot), there are some things that I'm no fan of. Let's go over a few:
Everyone loved the PSP, it was a huge hit, so I could only imagine that they wanted to create a system just as successful as the PSP. The problem, as I see it, is that they wanted the Vita's success to be instantaneous! When the Vita didn't explode & kill the 3DS in the blink of an eye, they decided "welp! Must be because no-one likes it!", turned their heels and walked away. If anyone has a better reason for the Vita's failure, please contact me. In fact, Sony, you *still* can make the Vita a success if you try! By today's standards it's still a brilliant handheld device, it's not like the Vita is the "Dashcon" or "Fyre Festival" of game consoles, right?
The Vita was available in black. That's it (unless you get the special edition white, or order a different colour from Japan). This is kind of important to me, even though I *do* love my black Vita, if I had a choice of what colour I wanted it would be a more fun experience to buy one! The Vita 2000 had a blue version here in North America/Canada but I don't remember seeing any of the other colours.
(Image credit goes to whoever made it. I love you, don't sue me.)
The 2000 did a better job on this, but the rear touchpad was still glossy. I understand the screen digitizer, but the rear pad doesn't have to be. No-one likes fingerprints.
I wouldn't call this a con, in fact I don't find cameras on a game console that helpful at all, but the Vita has one (and some games make good use of it). Here's a few example photos I took in a nearby forest:
Looking up at a tree
I call this one "Athletic Man"
This one has some direct sunlight in it
This should probably be an article all on it's own, but I want to say that low resolution cameras function just fine for artistic expression. Photography as an art, in my opinion, is about telling stories & expressing emotion. The resolution of your camera doesn't always matter so long as you can portray that emotion in a photo (in fact, when I get my Mediagoblin set up, I want to have a collection dedicated to "Vita Photography". Whether or not public registration will be enabled is up to me & how much space my hard disk has.)
I almost forgot to mention this! Sony sold special proprietary memory cards for the Vita & they cost a fortune! I found a 64 GB card from a nice man who charged me $85 (CAD) for it, and that's considered a *good deal* for these things! Of course you can install custom firmware and buy a MicroSD adapter, but that means you'll have to fiddle with the software. I'm a software fiddler by profession so when the day is over, all I want to do is play a video game, not debug *more* crap! The Vita 3000 needs MicroSD support, not proprietary cards.
I love my Vita and you should love yours and I'm going to have a tea and go to bed.