Posted by John on January 15, 2012

7 things you didn’t know about PlayStation Vita

That is the North American launch date for Sony’s much-hyped PlayStation Vita, a successor to the PlayStation Portable (PSP) that promises to up the ante in mobile gaming, as well as entertainment and communication.

Many are already aware that the $249.99 Wi-Fi device ($299.99 for Wi-Fi + 3G) boasts a 5-inch high-definition OLED display, dual analog sticks and will include both front and rear cameras to snap pictures, shoot movies or engage in video calls.

But there’s a lot more to the “PS Vita,” says Sony, which was showing off the Vita this week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

We caught up with John Koller, director of hardware marketing at Sony, to reveal a few lesser-known facts and features about the upcoming machine.

What’s in a name? “Vita” means life in Latin. “We felt it was the most appropriate name to describe such a revolutionary device that combines gaming and social connectivity,” says Koller. “One of the goals of Vita is to transform every aspect of a user’s life into the entertainment experience.”

Experience rules: The PlayStation Vita’s designer helped design the original Sony Walkman. That’s right, Mr. Takashi Sogabe of the Sony Corporate Design Center, who has 27 years of experience under his belt at Sony, was the designer of the original Walkman personal stereo first introduced in 1979.

Many ways to play: PS Vita gamers have five ways to control the action. Depending on what each game supports, players can use the 5-inch touchscreen, the back touch panel, familiar PlayStation buttons (circle, square, triangle, X, shoulders and d-pad), dual analog sticks and a built-in gyroscope sensor to tilt the unit in various directions.

Wireless wonder: PS Vita is the first handheld device dedicated to gaming that incorporates 3G and Wi-Fi support. That is, you will be able to play your PS Vita games everywhere you go and stay connected with your friends and other PS Vita users. Gamers can also stay updated with those who matter thanks to popular social networking and communications applications. In order to tap into 3G you will need a data plan from ATT, which is offering month-to-month plans ($14.99/250MB or $25/2GB).

Not camera shy: Dive deep into “augmented reality” gaming using PS Vita’s front and rear cameras. PS Vita enables reality and the virtual world to blend in new ways, says Sony, by taking real-time images of yourself or the world around and placing them into the gameplay experience.

Game on! PS Vita will launch with the largest gaming library in the history of PlayStation platforms. There will be 25 games available on day one, Sony says. And there are more than 100 games in development — including high-profile franchises like “Uncharted,” “Call of Duty,” “LittleBigPlanet” and “Assassin’s Creed.” Those who purchased PSP games through PlayStation Network will be able to play those games on their PS Vita device, as well.

PS3 interaction: Finally, the PlayStation Vita will interact with the PlayStation 3 console. Specifically, PS Vita and PS3 gamers can play with or against one other when playing compatible games. And some games will take it a step further by enabling players to pause their game on their PS3 and resume it later on their PS Vita (or vice versa).

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