The first time I switched it on, it dawned on me that the PlayStation Vita could be Sony's crowning achievement in the gaming industry.
Sure, the PlayStation 2 may have sold hundreds of millions of units, but it was rather unattractive. Indeed, the PlayStation 3 may possess some amazing visuals, but developers struggled to get to grips with the hardware.
But the Vita is the first Sony console to get almost everything right, starting with the hardware.
Hardware and design
Instead of going for the exotic route, the Vita is powered by an off-the-shelf processor, in fact, it's powered by the same quad-core graphics chip seen in the latest iPad, but features a quad-core CPU too (the iPad 3 does not).
Throw in 512MBs of RAM and 128MBs of graphics memory and you have a machine that begs to be pushed.
And push the Vita they have, with the current crop of launch games being visually impressive already. Games like Uncharted and Wipeout 2048 are nearing, but not quite reaching PS3 levels yet, which can only mean good things for future titles.
We won't be surprised to see smartphone and tablet developers make a few games for the device too, owing to the hardware on-board, with Plants vs Zombies and other games already available on the PS Store.
Aesthetically, the PlayStation Vita isn't too shabby either, being made out of black plastic for the most part. The device features a chrome-like trim around the edges, while the back plays host to the innovative touch-panel (also fashioned out of plastic). Unfortunately, you can't lift the panel off to replace the battery if need be, necessitating a visit to the store.
Moving to the bottom, the console features a proprietary dock, used for charging and transferring, as well as a standard earphone jack and memory card slot. The top of the device is where you'll find the volume buttons, power button, Vita card slot and an accessory port.
See and Touch
The star of the show however, is the 5-inch OLED touchscreen, featuring a 960x544 resolution and vivid colours. While it doesn't hold a candle to the resolution of high-end Android handsets, it doesn't matter when the viewing experience is this good.
Of course, being a games console and not a smartphone/tablet, you'd expect some physical input, and the Vita has plenty.
The Vita features all the buttons that the PSP had (directional-pad, face buttons, shoulder keys), as well as dual analogue sticks, in a neat touch. Additionally, the device sports motion control, the aforementioned OLED touchscreen and the cool rear touch-panel.
The latter is pretty nifty, with players using it to manipulate the environment in Little Deviants for instance. F1 2011 also features some neat use of the panel, with players utilising it to change gears much like paddle-shifts.
The Vita also features two VGA-quality cameras for augmented reality games, photos and video-calls (the latter is coming soon thanks to Skype). While your average smartphone shooter is miles ahead, it works well with augmented reality titles.
Page two: Software and verdict!