You have read about the games, you have read about the hardware and you know everything you need to know about the PlayStation Vita. What you don’t know is how the dinky little console holds up to two months of constant use.
The story begins way back in September 2010 at the Eurogamer Expo which I visited for an entire fifty five minutes before getting annoyed with crowds, queues and games I had played demos of weeks before. As I began my journey home I fished out my trusty iPod for a musical accompaniment, but it appears some light fingered twonk decided to relieve me of said musical device.
Over the following months I toyed with the idea of buying a new iPod however I knew that it was a matter of months till the PlayStation Vita arrived so I made do with my rather creaky PSP. So – fast forward to 2012 and join me, dear reader, as we take a look at a day in the life of Tuffcub’s Vita.
Stardust Delta - good for trains.
The working day for Sony’s new console begins around 6.30am when it is woken from its slumbers having been plugged in to my PC all night. It’s time to transfer some music to the device using the content management system which is in all fairness, rather crap.
The Content Manager Assistant (CMA) comes in two parts, a small download for your PC so it can talk to the Vita and the management system built into the Vita. The PC software is minimal to say the least – all you can do is specify which folders the Vita will look in to find music, movies and pictures. When you select the CMA on the Vita it will display the media on the PC and you can select and copy the files across using the Vita’s touch screen.
It’s a bit of a chore to be honest, especially as the majority of the audio files I listen to are podcasts. At present I use iTunes to download the podcasts and the CMA to transfer the files to the console. It would be so much easier if Sony had created a simple iTunes style interface for the PC which would allow me to manage music files and subscribe to podcasts. Sadly that is not the case and I have to pick and flick my way through the files that have downloaded overnight.
The Size Of A Gnome.
Sufficiently stocked up with Scott Mills, The Now Show and zombie podcast ‘We’re Alive’ it’s time to head to work so I pick my Vita up and plop it in to a pocket. Yes, you read that correctly, it fits in a pocket. In fact it fits in just about every pocket I have so I have no idea why people were complaining the console is too big to be portable.
Admittedly, I am the size of a small house so the pockets in my jeans and jackets are slightly larger than average so I do concede that if you are the size of a gnome perhaps the Vita is a tad to large to pop down the back of your slacks. But is that the fault of Sony, or is your fault for just being a titch? Yes, it’s the latter. Go eat some broccoli and man up.
A quick jig of the ‘Where’s ma keys? Where’s ma phone’ dance before leaving the house and it’s headphones in and time to choose today’s commuting entertainment. The interface for music on the Vita is remarkably slick and the music can be sorted by artist, genres, albums and most helpfully, ‘recently added’. Today I shall be catching up with Scott Mills so I select his podcast.
That press shot of the Vita with the funky icons.
The Vita has a built in equaliser but it’s identical to the PSP version and there are only four different settings, Heavy, Pop, Jazz and Unique. This raises two questions: firstly why on earth can’t we have a proper equaliser which we can set the levels of bass and treble ourselves, and secondly who on this wide, wide world listens to jazz? I would hazard a guess that there is little correlation between fans of smooth and smoky saxophone solos and Call of Duty.
A quick Twitter survey and the only suggestions for games with a jazz soundtrack are L.A. Noire and The Saboteur so why on earth do we have a Jazz preset on the equaliser? It’s not exactly a prolific music style on PlayStation.
Moan over. I have selected the podcast and the Vita is safely plopped into my pocket. At this point I should reveal that I own a nice case for my Vita but I don’t use it because that does make the console too big to fit even in my continent sized pockets. The Vita gets plonked into my pocket, usually with some loose change or a pen and some keys.
At this point I imagine Alex will be shouting at his monitor, he seemed less than impressed that I was carrying my Vita around sans protection the last time we met. Let’s see if we can make him have a funny turn…
I’ve dropped my Vita three times.
On the ground.
That most recent accident occurred last night, the Vita was laying on my duvet and I didn’t spot it until after I had swooshed the duvet around. To be precise, I spotted the Vita as it launched six foot in to the air, spinning violently before crashing on to the floor.
My old iPod was scratched to buggery, the thieving Popsicle who swiped it will be lucky to get £20 for it but suprisingly my PlayStation Vita is, after six weeks constant use without any protection completely scratch free. I’m as surprised as you probably are but apart from some smudgy finger prints on the screen the Vita is perfect condition. How? No idea. Witchcraft probably, but it does show that Sony have a built a tough little machine.
The podcast plays for the short bus ride down to Brixton tube station and I take my regular seat, one of the small benefits of being at the end of a tube line. The tube journey takes about ten minutes so just enough time for a blast on Super Stardust Delta, my game of choice when time is short.
A quick fiddle with the volume levels in the game allows me to continue to listen to Scott Mills whilst playing – allowing you to play your own music in all games is an excellent move by Sony. Two stops into the journey and something that can only be described as ‘totty’ hops on board and sits opposite me, completely distracting me from Stardust and crashing my ship into an asteroid.
This is an obvious time for me try out a feature that I have not used – the perv camera! To the untrained eye the Vita looks like a games console so unsuspecting DILFs will not suspect that I can take a snapshot and upload to Tube Crush.
Casually ‘playing’ my console I raise it up so it’s facing the totty, press the camera button and..
A very loud click echoes around the carriage. Totty does not look impressed.
Thus I learn a valuable lesson – even if you have headphones attached to the Vita it will still play the ‘camera click’ noise through the speakers. Curse you Sony for thwarting any chance of secretive photography! Readers of my Twitter feed (@Tuffcub in case you couldn’t guess) will recall I had a similar problem whilst playing ‘Frobisher Says’ on the tube and Frobisher asked for a picture of something green.
The only green thing in view was the rather low cut top the lady opposite me was wearing and her husband was unimpressed I was taking pictures of her breasts.
Occasionally I forget to plug in the Vita when I get home at night so I have made the essential purchase of a second Vita charger, when I get to work the console can be plugged in for a fresh boost of energy. If you are making a regular trip with your console I do recommend buying an second charging cable and leaving it at your destination, there is nothing more frustrating than a lifeless Vita.
A stroll through Soho.
Lunchtimes for PS Vita usually involve delivering more podcasts during a stroll through Soho or, if the weather has been particularly pleasant, a picnic in Green Park and a movie. Here I discover another flaw with the console, in bright sunshine you can’t see the screen as it becomes a sheet of glaring white sunlight.
I also press the button on ‘Near’ at lunchtimes, I still have no idea what Near does or what it’s for but it does making a wonderful ‘keplunkadoodle’ sound when updated and I am easily pleased. I’m quite looking forward to updating near when I go on holiday to Hawaii at the end of August, I want to see if it will crash when it works out out I have travelled 11,561 miles in one day.
As we are out and about with Vita and I work in That London I thought it would be a good time to test the PlayStation Vita video recording feature so through the magic of science you should find a video below this text.
I tried to use the Vita in as many conditions as possible, inside, outside, day and night and also whilst trying to edit the video with Snowy the dog dancing on your shoulder but the general conclusion is PlayStation Vita video reocording is pants. Annoyingly any videos recorded on the Vita show up the ‘Photos’ section rather than ‘Videos’, both on the Vita and when you synchronise back to a PC. This is obviously very silly and needs to be fixed.
Treasures Of Monty Python Blitz
As the working day ends it’s time for the commute back and as my tube journey takes ten minutes it’s the prefect time for a quick go on Treasures Of Monty Python Blitz and some Mortal Kombat for the bus ride home.
I do like Mortal Kombat despite some rather low-res character models (they look rather PS2 compared to Uncharted’s lovely visuals) but the real problem is boobage. There is a lot of cleavage and bouncing jubblies in the game which is a tad embarrassing when a little old lady is sat next to you on the bus, even more so that the decapitations and gore.
Back home and the Vita is plugged in to charge and Skype is left running in the background waiting for the a call from my beloved. Some features of the Vita are exceptionally good, unsurprisingly the games are excellent to play and Twitter, Skype and Facebook all work well.
The multimedia features are less impressive although many of the problems could be sorted out with a decent content management system on the PC. Other little niggles such as not being able to play your own tunes whilst playing PS Minis will hopefully be sorted in future updates.
The big question is would I ever go back to an iPod? No, not a in million years.