Sony PS Vita Slim review
- New rear touchpad
- Nice price
- Brilliant game library
- Costly peripherals
- Diminished visual capabilities
- Flimsy build
The revised, diet version of the Sony PS Vita handheld has broken cover ahead of its big Tokyo Game Show debut, and T3 had a rare, brief but reasonably thorough hands-on with it when we popped in to Sony Computer Entertainment's HQ in the Japanese capital. There, among a raft of multicoloured cases to cover it up, was the PS Vita Slim.
Sony PS Vita Slim: Size and build
First thing you notice with the Slim, despite being designed primarily as a budget rethink, is that it's a fittingly attractive machine, sleek and well made, although far more rounded and plasticky than its stocky, premium-feel predecessor. All the buttons are in the same place, as this is no radical evolution, but there have been some slight tweaks where necessary, most noticeably in the now circular Start and Select buttons.
Smaller in size than the original, the Slim's been made necessarily cheaper to aid its upcoming role as a budget Sony PS4 sidekick for Remote Play and more, and this scaling back is palpable in pretty much everything you do with the machine.
The previously double encased body has been exposed, the slightly harsher, PSP-like black plastic now unsealed, meaning an unexpected drop is more likely to spell trouble than the surprisingly sturdy first iteration.
The form factor is also slimmer and lighter. The lack of heft, in fact, is really quite something - at 219g it's 15 percent lighter - adding to the handheld's portability significantly, yet the machine is actually less comfortable in the hand.
The combination of the thinner body - 20 percent thinner, in fact, now 15mm - and its lower quality material proves a bit rough and diggy on the palm, even in our short play. Longer sessions will be interesting.
Sony PS Vita Slim: Screen
Most noticeably, and infamously, the PS Vita's still stunning five-inch OLED screen has been replaced by a multi-capacitive LCD display of the same size which is very reflective with more saturated colours, though to be fair we viewed it in a wide open space with lots of natural light - the harshest of test conditions.
The high price of OLED screens always made this an obvious spec reduction, but it's still a bit of a shame. We look forward to probing its qualities more, though.
Sony PS Vita Slim: Touch panel
It's not just the front that's changed, either, with the reverse receiving a design overhaul, too, the rear touch panel now reduced in size. Whereas before it basically took up the whole of the handheld's back, it now has a smaller, specifically allocated area for you to interact with.
This will be a godsend for those who kept covering it by mistake, the dreaded 'two hand' symbol reducing your prods to insignificance, although we've got to admit it's going to make quick shots in FIFA a lot less instinctive now we actually have to extend our digits.
Battery life has also been extended, although we haven't had a chance to put that to the test yet. We'll take a closer look as soon as we can get our hands on a full review model.
Sony PS Vita Slim: Verdict
Overall, the PS Vita Slim is a knowingly compromised machine with its heart very much in the right place. All of the changes, aesthetic or technical, have clearly been done with one thing in mind: make it cheap.
The price of the PS Vita - not to mention its games and memory cards - has long been the downfall of a potentially great platform, and at the new price point it's sure to have a brighter future. There's also 1GB of onboard memory now for game saves and downloads without a memory card initially. Make no mistake, on the gaming front there's never been a better time to buy.
Of course, as OCD tech aesthetes, we're not fully on board with the new model and there's certainly no reason to trade in as there has been with Nintendo's redesigns, most notably the 3DS XL, a vast improvement on its own predecessor. We were, and are, huge fans of the original PS Vita, and at first fumble the Slim is a significant downgrade if you're already "with portable".
That said, if it's been the price that's put you off dipping your toe into Vita waters so far, you now have less of an excuse than ever, and you should own a Slim rather than nothing.
Sony PS Vita Slim release date: 10 October in Japan, UK release TBC
Sony PS Vita Slim price: Y18,980 (£120 converted, though UK price TBC)
Hands-on review by Matt Hill