New Sony Vita Portable Game Device

The highlight of Sony’s press conference at the annual E3 gaming conference was the release of details on pricing and software support for its upcoming handheld gaming system. Many details about the new Sony handheld’s specs were released when the system was first announced in January under the code name NGP (Next Generation Platform). The system received its official name at E3, the PlayStation Vita, named either for the Latin word for “life” or my favorite brand of pickled herring.

Two versions of the Vita are planned for release before the end of the year, a Wi-Fi only model priced at $249 and a Wi-Fi plus 3G version priced at $299. The proud announcement that 3G service in the U.S. would be provided exclusively by AT&T provoked some chuckles from the assembled audience of journalists, many of whom were probably struggling to get a cellular signal at that very moment on their iPhones. Pricing for the 3G service wasn’t announced.

The PS Vita boasts a 5-inch OLED display that looked handsome during system demos, but the main attraction based on gameplay is clearly the versatility of system control options. The Vita boasts a touchscreen, two analog thumb controllers, a touch-sensitive rear control surface, standard PSP directional control and PlayStation four-button control pad, plus six-access tilt sensitivity. There are two cameras, front and back, allowing augmented reality gaming and potentially video chat, though details on communication features are still unknown.

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