Unquestionably, Sony’s handheld got off to a troubled start, and while it’s still not out of the woods yet, it’s definitely starting to come into its stride. Along with Playstation Mobile and a string of cross-play titles and Indie games, the announcement of extensive PS4 support has suddenly turned the handheld into Sony’s ace in the hole as they journey back to the top of the gaming mountain.
While this latest update doesn’t push the hardware further forward, the new, subtle features are extremely useful and really do showcase Vita as a multi-use platform, capable of more than just vidya games.
For a full list of the features offered in this Vita update, surf here
Version Tested: 2.01
Model used: Playstation Vita Wi-Fi model.
So what are we getting with 2.1? The main addition is Folders. The Playstation store is pretty extensive for Vita owners now and so many titles are download only. As you know (or might expect), the menu screen can get pretty cluttered.
Folders definitely help change that and work much the same way as you would see on an iPhone or iPad. On Vita, folders are depicted by a large, screen-encompassing bubble which store 10 icons at a time. They can be renamed and even have their position adjusted anywhere on the screen. The only disappointment comes from clicking on an icon in a folder. Once done, the folder will close automatically and just open your requested application. You can’t scroll back to the left and return to the folder as you’ll have automatically been pulled back to the main screen. The user will need to re-open the folder each time. A minor complaint, I know.
Outside of that, the folder system is extremely handy and a very welcome feature.
Additionally, videos can now be played in the Vita browser. However, the feature isn’t as good as it needs to be. For starters, playback only really applies to YouTube videos; anything with Java-script is a complete no-go. Add to that videos will automatically go full-screen and cannot be watched in their embedded state, and worse still, the only buttons available to press are ‘play’ or ‘rewind to the beginning’, there’s no functionality to pause, stop, fast-forward or drag a slider bar across the bottom so you can watch a particular part of a video.
On the whole, the functionality is lacking and really does need updating in future firmware updates. Due to the fast-moving nature of websites and the coding that drives them, Vita still doesn’t support a large majority of video content out there. While Vita will never be your first choice to surf the web, Sony’s aim is to make it as accessible as possible, and right now, it’s difficult to say that they’re actually achieving that.
Another non-gaming feature offered is the ability to add multiple email addresses to a single contact. Again, a simple feature we take for granted on our mobiles and laptops, but one I was surprised didn’t already exist. Still, you can now add Jimmy Two-Toes work, home and private email address to his account, and still have room to add two more. You can also view HTML-centric emails in full screen on Vita.
Unfortunately, the inbox still crashes if, like me, you have over 9,999 emails still unread as that’s the maximum allocation. I know, I really need to start purging…
Another subtle tweak is the ability to add more features to buttons on Vita. You can now configure Vita buttons to access near, Remote Play, Content Manager, Web Browser and more. Very welcome implementation.
Finally, if you’re a PS + subscriber, Playstation Mobile updates will now automatically download on your Vita via a net connection. Very convenient and perhaps the slightest indication of the PS4 future in store for us in the months to come. In the future, I’d like to see the same thing happen to other titles downloaded on the Playstation store.
Vita is a complete handheld system. It’s fluid, accessible, and various game types work well on the format, whether we’re talking First Person Shooters, RPG’s or Action/Adventures. Outside of the regular disconnection issues on a Wi-Fi system and extensive loading screens, the system operates to a high standard
The update adds minor, but significant tweaks, however, it perhaps isn’t as focused on key areas in need of improvement. Still, folders are a real benefit and prevent the main screen from becoming overly cluttered. The automatic updates for Playstation Mobile titles are also a real coup and present exciting possibilities for the future. Being able to upload/download saved data for games PS+ Online storage using a mobile network is also huge. Even viewing still images in a higher resolution when enlarged brought a smile to our collective faces. Browser video and the email service do need further attention to get right, but their sense of convenience is improved.
Playstation Vita is outside of its challenging first year and better for it. The system library is extensive and its long-term support looks especially promising once the PS4 arrives later this year. Certain games will cause the console to lose connection, the menu isn’t as dynamic and seamless as that on PS3, the remote play remains limited and the loading times for some titles is pretty punishing, but the cross-buy/cross-play connectivity across PS+ and games is truly ground-breaking . 2,1 will probably pass most users by, but it proves that Sony see Vita as more than just a gaming platform and its multi-use capabilities are finally starting to become a selling point.