Vita unboxing and first impressions

After some shipping drama, my Vita is finally here, even if a tad late.  There are plenty of online unboxing videos, so I won’t bore everyone with the details.  But since I got the 3G launch bundle through Amazon, my box also included an 8GB memory card in addition to the standard power/usb cords, charger, and game system.

I was happy to find my Vita mostly charged, so I was able to boot it up without having to wait.  The initial setup screens were straight forward, but they could definitely be improved upon.  For instance, there was no wifi setup, and PSN couldn’t be setup without a connection, so you have to skip that step until later.  Setting up your 3G connection via AT&T is even more painful, as we pointed out in a previous post.

But after some tinkering, everything was setup and I was online.  I logged into PSN to start downloading some demos.  Be warned: the download speed is not the fastest.  It’s also annoying that the download only seems to progress when the screen is on.  In other words, when the Vita sleeps, the download pauses.  And having a max idle time of 5 minutes in the power settings doesn’t help one bit.  Hopefully Sony will fix the download experience in a future update. 

Overall, the demos were a bit underwhelming, but since they ARE demos, so don’t expect too much.  The Uncharted and Unit 13 demos stood out the most because I felt they did a good job brining to the console experience to the Vita.  As you ponder what game to buy first, you can pass the time by playing your old PSP games, but ONLY if you purchased them via PSN, and even then it’s not guaranteed they’re Vita-compatible.

I decided to try anyways, and proceeded to attempt to copy over the only PSP game I owned: Little Big Planet.  I went into the Vita’s content manager and fired up my PS3.  After hooking up my new handheld to the mothership, I was immediately able to browse my consol’s content.  I was skeptical this would even work as advertised, but after drilling down into my apps folder, I saw that my PSP game was available to be transfered over.  The copy time was quick (as it should be over a direct USB connection), and I was running around as Sack Boy in no time.

Playing a PSP game on the Vita seemed flawless.  The only issue I noticed was the pixelation in the images due to the lower resolution graphics which were blown up to fill the larger screen.  But gameplay was wonderful, and after a while, you learn to ignore the jaggedness.  Obviously, the touchscreen won’t work on PSP games, but if you touch the screen and hold for a few seconds, a menu pops up that allows you to change some settings likes bilinear filtering and color space.  The user manual does a good job explaining the various settings, as well as details about this PSP feature in general.  Also, the screenshot feature is disabled for PSP games, so I had to take the above picture with a normal camera.

I also installed the Content Manager Assistant on my Mac so that I could transfer screenshots over to my computer.  The installation was smooth, and I able to select images and copy them over from the Vita without a hitch.  In fact, the user experience in general was surprisingly enjoyable.  There are obviously some issues that need to be addressed, but I was honestly expecting something much worse since features are usually rushed out at launch.

I’m going to stop here for now, but stay tuned for more as I continue to tinker with the system.  In the meantime, let us know how your experience has been with the Vita, and what are your first impressions are!