Many of you may have been waiting patiently by the door this morning for the postman to drop a shiny new PS Vita through the letterbox. You might have even queued up late last night to be one of the first to pick up the handheld . Either way, you got one and are happy gaming away at Wipeout, Uncharted or whatever launch title you chose to pick up.
We don’t want to distract you from a lengthy gaming sesh, but the Vita can do so much more than just play games. Want to get the most out of your new handheld? Read on to find out what the PS Vita can really do.
Take a photo, shoot some video
Take a peek on the front and back of your new Vita. You might notice that there is not one but two cameras sat there. Designed so you can do things like video calling or take snapshots of yourself while playing (Wipeout 2048 we mean you!), they can also be used like a smartphone camera.
On the Vita’s home screen, tap the photos icon and wait for it to load up. From there you can do exactly what you would expect - take photos. The icon on the right inside the capsule will switch between video and stills, the one above swaps front and back camera. Top right is location data and the left changes between 16:9 shots and square format.
Video is recorded to the Vita’s memory card and can be accessed using the playback symbol on the top right of the photos app.
Have a party
The Vita’s PlayStation network capabilities mean you can interact with friends from both the PS3 and Vita console. The party app allows you to bring together network friends and chat. Straightfoward stuff really - you can check invitations and favourites but mainly it's just for keeping in contact with others using the PS network.
You can use either text or audio chat to keep in contact with mates and messages will be shared across both PS3 and Vita system. It's all done very well and is a nice straightforward way of "partying" with your friends without seeing them in person.
The group messaging app does very much the same thing, except it isn’t used for in game chat - more like a multi-person chatroom you can use to communicate with others.
You are also going to want to use the friends app to build up a decent list of PlayStation network contacts to chat with. Fire it up and click the three dots in the bottom corner, send friend requests to the relevant people and there you go, ready to "party".
Show off your trophies
Just like the PlayStation 3, the PS Vita also has a trophies system which will enable you to build a collection of bronze, silver, gold and platinum rewards for your in game achievements. Everything you have earned on the PS3 under the same network account will be shown and you can browse through friends and compare trophies just the same.
We did notice that the Vita was a lot quicker than the PS3 at syncing our trophy information, which normally takes about ten minutes. Similarly going in and exploring each title's individual rewards is a lot quicker. Definitely worth bearing in mind should you be a trophy obsessive.
Go Near someone
You might have noticed the Near app icon when you booted up your PS Vita system. Definitely one of the cooler albeit more convoluted apps included with the Vita, it takes a bit of perseverance to work out.
Near works by letting you share information about your Vita related activities. Think of it as a friendstream and timeline, like in Facebook, but for the Vita. So anything you buy, play or earn will be told to those nearby. As with the 3DS, you can discover nearby players and earn points and player details.
Don’t get lost
The 1.61 update for the Vita brought with it the ability to browse maps in the way you would on a smartphone and find out your location. The Vita also uses a digital compass and Google Maps to give you directions to and from a place.
It is quite a decent maps application and is made even better by the Vita’s beefier OLED screen, which is larger than the average smartphone. If you have a 3G Vita, then maps will also work while out on the go, so you can use your handheld system to stop yourself getting lost.
Play games remotely
One of the Vita’s most exciting features is its ability to play games remotely from your PlayStation 3. As of now, very few titles are supported, so few in fact that we couldn’t find any. All we have found is Bejeweled 2, Anarchy: Rush Hour and Peggle which are said to be compatible. There is however a video on the web showing the likes of Battlefield 3 running remotely on the Vita.
Setting up remote play is done by connecting your Vita to your console. From the settings menu you need to hit devices list and connect the Vita. Then go to network and select remote play from the PS3, fire this up at the same time on your Vita and you should be away.
Browse the web
Another highlight of having a 3G Vita is being able to browse the internet while out and about. You can of course do so via Wi-Fi when at home but its nice to have that extra flexibility. The Vita has a lot of power and it shows when using it to surf the web.
Pages load extremely quick but run into problems when Flash or HTML 5 is involved. YouTube for example doesn’t get on hugely well with the Vita which is irritating as the OLED screen would be great for watching videos. There is a fix for this though.
Download a video
No YouTube? If you absolutely have to see some kind of moving image that isn’t a game, you can either pre-load video on to the Vita using its content manager or us the PS Store from which to rent movies.
There is a similar selection to that available on the PS3, going from stuff like the Hangover Part II to Captain America. Prices do vary but anything particularly recent is going to cost you £3.50. Not bad when you think about it. Purchasing a film is quite a bit more at £11.99 but then you can keep it and watch it back on your PS3 later.
Download an application
The Vita is a pretty multi-talented device. Within the PS Store, which has been open only a few hours, applications are beginning to emerge. So far we have the ubiquitous Facebook app, which is actually rather good. Flickr is also showing its face and has a similarly swish UI.
Netflix is rumoured to be on the horizon and if it supports 3G streaming, should turn the 3G Vita into an ultimate on-the-go movie device. In the meantime, best to hold out until the PS Store starts filling with apps. What to do instead then? How about downloading a game.
Download a PSP game
The Vita can access the entire library of PSP downloads and will, should you already own some, let you re-download them to the console. They work perfectly fine and even benefit from an added graphical increase from the Vita’s power.
Also available is the likes of the PS Minis and what we would consider to be app style games for the Vita. Cheaper than the full-size titles such as Uncharted, they are more pick up and play, using things like augmented reality and the front-facing camera. Worth giving a go however, as it is cheap for what it is, is Super Stardust.
Listen to music
If you have splashed out on a decent sized memory card for your Vita system, then you can always use it to play back music. You are going to need either the PS3 or PC’s content manager application, just like with video. Once it is on there, then the Vita will organise it all for you into a rather neat music application.
Short of making calls, the Vita does everything that most smartphones can do. Sure you are lacking in apps, but Facebook and Flickr are good enough. Think about the access the portable has to gaming and the power inside and then it shapes up to be a pretty formidable device.
This will only keep on growing as well, putting any doubts to bed that we had of it being a powerful portable and not much else. What else can your PS Vita do? From the looks of it, quite a bit.
What else have you got from your Vita? Let us know in the comments below ...