While the rest of the staff are waxing lyrical about the PS Vita itself and the, frankly outstanding, line-up of launch-day games available on the shelves and the PSN Store I thought it time to take a quick look at something that’s been overlooked. You’ve got your shiny new PS Vita, now how are you going to keep it shiny.
Having looked at various options as they’ve become available over the past couple of months the one that I finally settled upon was Sony’s own Official PS Vita Starter Kit. Official accessory lines are normally the expensive option but the Official Starter Kit packs an awful lot of value into a £21.99 package.
Card Case / Wrist Strap / Cloth
These three items are fairly perfunctory run-of-the-mill items that provide simple utility with the feeling of quality you expect from your Sony-branded goods. The plastic card case will hold eight game cards and two memory cards in its clamshell design with the PS Vita logo embossed on one side and a small PlayStation logo embossed on the other.
The black fabric strap is essentially identical to the many that you’ll see dangling from portable devices or stopping Wiimotes from hurtling through TV screens. You can attach it to either of the metal loops at the bottom left and right of the PS Vita. The cloth carrying the PS Vita logo will be essential for removing finger prints from your shiny new toy and is washable should you manage to saturate it with finger oil.
Screen Protector[drop2]It is at this halfway point through the six items in the Official Starter Kit where Sony’s design skills and attention to detail being to shine through and differentiate their products from the other third party options.
The PS Vita has a glorious screen that you’ll want to protect from scratches and the starter kit has you covered. The Sony difference here is that they don’t just provide you with a simple rectangle of sticky plastic to try and line up with the screen.
They have provided a simple rectangle of sticky plastic attached to a more rigid guide that extends to the right of the screen containing cut-outs for the symbol buttons and right stick. This makes lining up and applying the screen protector far easier than it might otherwise be.
The pouch is made from what feels like a thin neoprene-like material and like almost everything else in the Official Starter Kit is embossed with the PS Vita logo. There are no hard fastenings that might mar the surfaces of your PS Vita you simply pull aside the overlapping stitched flap on the right, slip you PS Vita inside and tuck the flap back over the end of your console.
If you look closely at the pictures you will see that just to the right of centre on the lower edge of the pouch’s front, below the ‘A’ of the logo there is a small cut-out. This isn’t Sony trying to save money on material wherever possible, it’s there so that you can leave your headphones attached to your PS Vita while it is safely en-pouched and protected from the contents of your handbag/manbag.
The case included with the Official Starter Kit is its pièce de résistance. This amazing piece of design is superficially just two rigid boards that wrap around your PS Vita to protect its front and back. It is so much more though.
First off let me be clear that this isn’t an all-enclosing case. The edges of your PS Vita are still open and while the rigid front and back pieces are oversized it is still conceivable that a drop, particularly on one end, could damage your console or other items in your bag could get ‘inside’ the case and come into contact with your PS Vita.[videoyoutube]The PS Vita attaches to the case via a plastic clip attached to the case’s back panel. This clips securely through the two metal loops at the bottom of the PS Vita while leaving enough room should you also want the wrist strap attached. With the case open the front hangs below the PS Vita and when closed the front is held secure by a Velcro tab that wraps over the top and secures to the outside of the back panel.
By folding the front panel up behind the back one and bending the Velcro tab back on itself you can secure the case in an open configuration. With the case like this another neat feature becomes apparent; you can use the case as a desk stand for your PS Vita.
A small ‘leg’, similar to the kind you find on the back of a photo frame folds out, to enable the case to stand up. In yet another great design touch the inside of the join between the front and back panels, which the case is now resting on, is covered in rubber to stop the case sliding about too easily.
The case’s final trick is how it allows you to access the PS Vita’s rear touch panel without having to detach it from case’s plastic clip. The clip has a tab that slots into a small pocket on the inside of the case’s back panel. Pushing your PS Vita up about a quarter of an inch slides the tab out of the pocket and the case then hangs free of the console attached to the clip by two inch-long fabric straps.
Despite the reasonable expectation that a Sony accessory will inevitably be over-priced, the whole Official Starter Kit feels like great value for its RRP of €24.99/ £21.99/$34.95 AUD/$44.95 NZD. Shopping around you can save a little off that, £19.99 is a common price in UK stores for example. You are getting good quality items to accompany you on your PS Vita adventure and help keep your console safe.
The case and pouch included with the Starter Kit might not suit your needs. For instance you might prefer a zip-up hard case to protect your PS Vita on your travels. That being the case (no pun intended) you could look at Sony’s Official PS Vita Travel Kit, which swaps out the pouch and case here for a zip-up soft pouch and car adaptor (cigarette lighter to USB) or one of the many third party cases and pouches that have launched alongside the console.
What sets the PS Vita Official Starter Kit apart from the other accessories and kits that I have seen are its feeling of quality and those Sony design flourishes that just really seem to work. With the items in this kit Sony aren’t simply looking to make a quick buck on some accessory sales, they have produced some good value items that are exceptionally well designed and useful.
Apologies for the poor quality of the photos I’ve taken. I really need a new camera and the all-black inside of the case is not very photogenic.