Exploring the PlayStation Vita's new features

On the 6th of February PlayStation rolled out another firmware update (firmware 1.60) for the PlayStation Vita prior to the PlayStation 3 update. This new firmware update added a number of new features to the system before its launch. This should allow the system to have a successful launch when it's released in the Western world on the 22nd of February. I've had a PlayStation Vita since it debuted in Japan on the 17th of December and have patiently been waiting for more features, and it would appear some have been added to improve the overall user-experience.

I’ll start with the backwards compatibility. There are 275 games that are currently backwards compatible: these include both PSP games and Mini games. More games will be added into the mix post launch but for now, the list for currently working PSP games on the PSVita is on the PlayStation Blog.

The PSP game controls can be assigned accordingly to the Vita's button scheme including the 2nd thumb-stick. However, features like screenshotting in game are disabled so I took the liberty of videoing some gameplay so you can see for yourselves:

As you can see, there is minimal tearing so the upscaling is pretty good considering the Vita’s resolution is exactly double of that of the PSP’s.

Google Maps was also enabled and quite frankly, I found it useless. The feature was useless to me because I have the Wi-Fi-only model of the PSVita and can only use it where Wi-Fi is available. On the other hand, it's a practical addition to the 3G model mainly due to having a constant 3G internet connection, so maps and directions are accessible nearly everywhere.

Aside from that, it functions pretty well and the Vita’s screen quality helps with the simplest of tasks like pinch-to-zoom and scrolling across the world map.

Finally, video recording was enabled. The PlayStation Vita itself has two 2 megapixel front- and rear-facing cameras. Obviously with such standards, HD recording is out of the question but standard definition recording works fine and the evidence is below:

The PlayStation Vita will be released on February the 22nd and with the minor improvements showcased here, it would appear the console should appeal to Western consumers who already have PSP games bought. However, with over 1000 PSP titles to make compatible and original PlayStation One games still not working for the system, Sony and its PlayStation brand still has a long way to go before the system really takes off.

The console itself is extrememly relevant and innovative but features still need to be improved in order for Sony and PlayStation to have a successful launch in both the US and the EU. Consumer trust was lost in 2011 due to the security breaches and console modification, so let's hope the PlayStation Vita has a more promising launch than the PS3.

This isn’t intended to be a review, but if you can wait I’ll have hopefully have a fully-extended written review soon. If you have any Vita-related questions just send them my way via my personal Twitter.

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