Best PlayStation Vita accessories
The Sony PlayStation Vita has arrived - in fact, if you want to know all about it you can read our Sony PlayStation Vita review - but you've probably already bought one. In that case, what you'll need to do now to maximise your enjoyment of the latest and greatest in handheld gaming is to accessorise it. Yes, you might have invested £240 but why go so far without going all the way?
Below you'll find our suggestions for the very best PlayStation Vita accessories with a nice mix of those that Sony suggest and those where we reckon you can do some improvements of your own.
PS Vita Cradle
With the Vita as impressive a video device as it is one for gaming, having something to prop it up while you tuck into your latest feature-length download is going to save you a set of dead arms and a lot of shifting around in your seat.
The PS Vita Cradle has a USB and line-out sockets on the rear for you to charge and exchange media - should you be plugged into a computer - as well as make a real mini-theatre of it if you've got some decent external speakers to plug in too. There's no official UK figures at the moment but, with it retailing at $20 in the US, expect to be paying about the same in sterling over here.
PS Vita memory cards
You can grind your teeth all you like but the fact is that Sony has gone back to using its own version of over-priced removable media instead of letting you use the microSD cards that you've been careful not to inhale or drop down the cracks of your keyboard. The machine comes with a mildly poxy one out of the box but, given that the memory card is where you'll be storing the bulk of your videos, music and such forth, you should really treat yourself to something a little more capacious.
The dream purchase here is the 32GB bad boy which can handle something like 16 full games, 24 movies, 9,000 songs and 6000 photos all at the same time but it will set you back a frosty £80 or so to get shipped in from overseas. Luckily it only weighs the same as a six helium atoms which brings the cost of postage down a touch. Otherwise there are 16- and 8GB versions at £27 and £38 respectively.
Uncharted shock proof Vita case
With such a lovely, sensitive screen and all those delicate controls, you'll need to carry around your PlayStation Vita with quite some care - that is, unless you encase that thing in shock-resistant foam and then that foam in some double-hard material. That's what Thrustmaster is offering with this limited edition PlayStation Vita case that's all safari style and done up to look like the kind of thing that Uncharted's Nathan Drake might carry his Vita around in.
Quite reasonable at £17.99, it includes slots for six games as well as compartments to protect your Vita mini-sticks. It has the Vita game's Golden Abyss title on the top cover as well as an aluminium dog tag of the man himself. If you're not into Uncharted or beige or both, then you can pick up basically the same thing in black with straight Vita branding on the top instead.
PlayStation Vita portable charger
The Vita battery isn't too shabby but you can bet you'll have days when you wish there was more. Enter the official PlayStation Vita portable charger which is the next best thing to having a spare battery, given that you can't actually remove or replace the power pack inside Sony's latest gaming handheld.
It works pretty much as you'd expect. You charge the thing up from the mains and then plug it into your Vita when needed and it'll bring you 1.5 times the charge that your internal battery can manage. That works out as an extra seven hours video and at least four more hours of gaming. The portable charger will also hold its charge for up to one year which is also seriously impressive. Not too bad at all. Only available overseas at the time of writing but expect it to land on British shores soon.
Of course, portable power is only going to get you so far. Sometimes, you're just going to run out of juice. What might come in handy in that instance is a car adapter and PS Vita cable kit which might wind up your partner/parent while they're trying to have a conversation with you/use the gear stick but if it's a long journey and there's gaming to be done, then, well, there's gaming to be done.
There is an official PS Vita adapter available in the States but in the mean time you can pick up a third party version for £11.95 instead.
Screen protectors and wipe
Screen protectors aren't many people's idea of a good time. OK, screen protectors are nobody's idea of that but you'll see who's laughing last when you accidentally run your keys against the Vita's OLED display in your pocket. Well, OK, again, screen protectors don't laugh, we'll give you that, but you know what we mean. You'll be sorry.
So, instead, invest in a pack of two Subsconic screen protectors, specially cut for the Vita, which also come with the bonus gift of a micro-fibre, anti-dust, anti-your finger grease screen wipe. At £4.99, there's not much to lose. Apart from your £4.99, of course.
PlayStation Network Card
Digital downloads are still very much a part of the PlayStation handheld experience even though you can buy Vita games on dedicated Vita cards. Whether its movies, music, apps or PSP games, you're going to need a fair old stack of that virtual cash which comes in the form of PlayStation Network Cards loaded and ready to go.
They can be bought in all sorts of denominations online or from just about any consumer electronics retailer out there but, if you fancy getting a better exchange rate, you can head over to the likes of eBay where you'll get about a fiver knocked off face value.
Sure, you can go for the official PlayStation Vita in-ear headset if you fancy but there's going to be something better out there on the audio front given that they only cost somewhere in the region of £20. Instead, a set of Klipsch ProMedia in-ear gaming headphones will do the trick. Once priced at just under a tonne, you can pick them up for a cut price £40 on Amazon.
They're noise isolating to make sure that you're not disturbed by non-gamers around you and the soft oval tips mean that they're comfortable to wear for long periods of time. With these in you lug holes, you'll be able to hear a virtual pin drop.
Of course, sometimes those people around you might want to hear what your Vita is playing and sometimes you might want them to too. Most often that's going to be when your device is doubling as a make shift boom box with its job to pump the tunes to all around. As always, there's plenty of options on the portable audio front but a good choice right now that marries quality with convenience is the Jawbone Jambox.
Cheap, it isn't, at £159 but this wireless speaker works over Bluetooth with your Vita banging out 85 decibels through a pair of sophisticated tweeters and woofers and a simple bass system of sorts. It comes in all sorts of funky colours but, best of all, weighs just 347g and will last up to 10 hours on a single charge.
PS Vita wrist strap
Like screen protectors, the official PS Vita wrist strap is probably the last thing on your list of most wanted accessories but it's going to save your console from getting robbed from your hands or dashed on the pavement when it accidentally slips from your grip.
Gaming is an involving pastime - at least, it should be or you're doing it wrong - and it's easy enough to become oblivious to your environment while you stand at the bus stop trying to beat your record on Wipeout 2048. Add in the Klipsch ProMedia and it's total absorption. The only trouble is that you seem to have to buy the official PS Vita travel pouch in order to get the strap.
Your other option, if you'd rather not deal with the wrist strap, is some nice, tight gadget insurance. Check with your bank account or home contents policy just in case you've actually got that kind of facility already. You'll need to call up your provider and register the fact that you own a Vita and hang on to your receipt for the moment when it hits the fan.
Otherwise, there's plenty of good gadget specialist insurance companies that you can can find out there on the web, most of whom will hook you up for around a fiver a month. A wrist strap is cheaper but it's your choice.
PlayStation Vita Starter Pack
Finally, if you're on a limited budget but still want to pimp your PlayStation as much as possible, then a good option is the PlayStation Vita Starter Pack which will set you back just £19.99. Inside, you get the cleaning cloth, wrist strap, screen protector, official carry case, a simple pouch and a game cartrige case for carrying around your top titles.
They're not as premium as some we've mentioned here but it's a lot of functionality without too much cost. After already shelling out a whole £240, it might just be what the doctor ordered.