Another key feature is the ability to share game data between the Vita and PS3. "MLB 12" will take advantage of this when it launches next month by allowing players to transfer saves between the devices. Players will be able to start a franchise or season on the PS3, save their progress to the cloud, and then retrieve it on the Vita to continue playing on the go. The updated information can then be sent back to the console when you get back to your PS3.
The Vita comes in two versions - WiFi only ($249.99) and 3G/WiFi ($299.99). Online multiplayer gaming requires only a WiFi connection, but the 3G service, which is provided by AT&T and requires a dedicated monthly data plan (250 MB for $14.99 or 3 GB for $30, no contract required), allows the Vita to remain connected to the PlayStation Network and the various social networking options like the included near software. Gamers looking to take full advantage of apps like Facebook and Twitter, which are scheduled to arrive early this year, may want to consider the 3G/WiFi version, but the standard WiFi Vita should suit the needs of most gamers.
Software comes in the form of carts instead of the PSP's awkward UMDs, and full games can also be downloaded from the PlayStation Network. With no onboard memory, the Vita relies on proprietary memory cards that come in sizes ranging from 4 GB to 32 GB. Sony's memory cards are rather expensive - a 16 GB card will set you back $59.99 - but the 8 GB variety should be a good fit for most gamers.
At the end of the day, the Vita's ultimate success will rest with its games. And if the launch lineup is any indication, the system has a bright future ahead. Titles like "Uncharted: Golden Abyss," "Lumines: Electronic Symphony," "Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational" and "Escape Plan" are legitimate system sellers, while "Rayman: Origins," "FIFA 12" and "Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3" are near perfect ports of their excellent console counterparts. Sony already has plans to bring "Resistance," "Killzone" and "LittleBigPlanet" titles to the Vita, and third-party hits like "Assassin's Creed," "BioShock" and "Call of Duty" are expected in one form or another later this year. That is a library that would rival most consoles and far exceeds anything available on any other portable device.
There's no question that the PS Vita is the most technologically advanced handheld gaming device ever designed, but is that fact alone enough to warrant a purchase? After all, that cutting-edge technology and gorgeous OLED screen, along with Sony's memory cards, don't come cheap, especially when compared to some of the other options out there. But none of those other options can offer what the Vita does - true console gaming experiences on a portable device. And that's what makes the Vita worth every penny.
Cost: $249.99 (WiFi), $299.99 (3G/WiFi)