(Pocket-lint) - The PlayStation Vita is undergoing something of a resurgence, not just in new sales, but also with gamers who already own one. Where it might have been discarded for a while after the initial flurry of interest on launch, it is now rapidly becoming a much used device and essential to throw in a rucksack when travelling.
Why? There are a number of reasons and not just the obvious one, that it's a great companion for the PS4, but the main one has to be that Sony itself sees a future for the handheld that many thought superfluous in this day and age of powerful mobile devices and it is supporting it with clever system updates, new features and a swathe of quality games that it lacked for so long.
So here are the reasons why we on Pocket-lint think you should give the PS Vita a second glance, whether you have one sitting uncharged in a drawer or fancy putting something on your Christmas list that you might not have considered before.
As part of the System Software 3.30 update, the PS Vita now allows you to change the backgrounds and themes for the console's start-up screen and homescreens.
Sony designed backgrounds and themes will be available through the PlayStation Store, which change the look of icons too, and there will be a number of game-specific themes available, including Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Tearaway and Freedom Wars.
You can also set your own pictures either captured through PS Vita's camera or grabbed from the net as a background for either the homescreen or start-up screen. Just head to the settings menu and it's simple.
When the PS Vita first launched, at the beginning of 2012 in Europe, there were several top games available but the regularity of triple-A title releases after left a lot to be desired. However, thanks to the new-found popularity of the console, we've had a great array of top titles to play in the last few months.
Sony's own Murasaki Baby is one of the latest we've become hooked on here at Pocket-lint, with its inventive use of the Vita's rear touch panel and fantastic hand-drawn art, but you will also no doubt be equally enamoured by Tearaway, Borderlands 2 and the excellent Final Fantasy X HD set. And that's just a selection of more recent releases - let's not forget that the Vita version of Minecraft is on its way.
Perhaps even more than the barnstorming triple-A titles, the Vita has become a fine home for the best indie games out there. Games like Thomas Was Alone, Fez, Spelunky, OlliOlli, Terraria, Guacamelee! and Hotline Miami have expanded the amount of available games dramatically. And they are all brilliant to boot.
The indie games market has exploded over the last couple of years and it could be argued that the most amount of invention in gaming is coming from small developers who are finally being taken seriously.
PS4 Remote Play
The Vita no longer has exclusivity when it comes to PS4 Remote Play but its mind-bogglingly simple to set up on the device and at least you don't need any add-on or accessory. To use remote play on an Xperia Z3 phone or tablet, for example, you need to connect a PS4 controller and some form of separate mount.
For true mobile play of PS4 games, the PS Vita already has the lot - its own controls, for starters.
It works superbly as well, with far better range and connectivity than the Wii U GamePad, which offers a similar function (albeit a bigger screen). You can just pause a PS4 game in play and carry on using your Vita anywhere else in the house.
But of all the mentioned features, this is perhaps the biggest reason why we've readopted the PS Vita as one of our favourite consoles. PlayStation Plus is a subscription service that for £5,49 a month (or £11.99 for three months, £39.99 for a year) you can download a number of curated games and play them as if you bought them. You will also have unlimited access to them for as long as your PS Plus membership is active.
And as PS Plus works across PS3, PS4 and PS Vita, if you have all three consoles, that means you get games for all three every month. It has certainly helped us build up a large library of PS Vita titles we might otherwise have not tried because they were too expensive individually.
In addition, some of the games are cross-platform, which means the save game files are stored in the cloud so you can play some of the title on the Vita, then switch to a PS3 or PS4 to carry on where you last saved.
This allows you to play games when away and then crack on at home when you get back - something PS4 Remote Play doesn't offer. It's a very compelling deal.
Sony's constant attention afforded to the PS Vita, coupled with the amount of games now available and the option to customise your own device, have improved the console significantly since its original launch.
We loved it back then, but it's now become something that we can't leave home without.