Sony PS Vita Slim review

Sony PS Vita Slim review

T3 4
  • Sony's latest is a sleek, stylish and reasonably priced handheld console that’s designed for gamers on the go. Check out our Sony PS Vita Slim review

    Sony PS Vita Slim review

    Love

    • New rear touchpad
    • Nice price
    • Brilliant game library

    Hate

    • Costly peripherals
    • Diminished visual capabilities
    • Flimsy build

    Originally revealed at last year’s Tokyo Games Show, and perhaps not making quite as many headlines as the next-gen Sony PS4, the new PS Vita Slim is Sony’s budget re-imagining of its toucscreen/touchpad/twin-stick handheld (check out our original Sony PS Vita review).

    Sleeker and – you guessed it – slimmer in its appearance than its predecessor, the new PS Vita Slim has essentially been created to offer a deep, more engrossing gaming experience than is currently available on smartphone platforms at a cheaper price.

    The new console is an improvement on the original PS Vita in a number of ways – it boasts more onboard storage, it’s lighter and thinner and its offers more in the way of battery life – but there are a couple of aspects that hold it back from unarguable greatness.

    That having been said, Sony is committed to the new model; the PS Vita Slim isn’t just a PS Vita variant, it’s its fully fledged replacement. Sony has confirmed that once the older model sells out in Europe, only the new model will be made available.

    PS Vita Slim: Size, build and screen

    This is bad news for those gamers who are particularly fussed about the quality of the visuals in their entertainment. While the PS Vita Slim’s screen is slightly larger, its LCD display doesn’t match up with the quality offered by the OLED screens of the original. Stick the two side by side and the visual differences are immediately apparent, with new model coming off second best.

    WATCH: Sony PS Vita vs PS Vita Slim screen comparison video

    The build of the new model – which is apparently 15 per cent slimmer and 20 per cent lighter than the PS Vita – also doesn’t feel as comfortable initially in the player’s hands and its exposed black plastic finish isn’t as satisfying to the touch. These aesthetic considerations aren’t deal-breakers, mind, but it’s worth pointing out that handling the PS Vita Slim takes a bit of getting used to if you’ve owned one of the original models.

  • The Sony PS Vita Slim hasn't yet made it to UK shores, but we got our mitts on it in Tokyo. Here's what we thought...

    Sony PS Vita Slim review

    Love

    • New rear touchpad
    • Nice price
    • Brilliant game library

    Hate

    • 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

    • PS Vita Slim 2014 review
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