PlayStation Vita Buyer's Guide

It's finally here! If you’re heading out to buy a PlayStation Vita today, or you’re waiting until the weekend, take a look at our breakdown of the Vita and hit the stores informed. We’ve tested out Wi-Fi vs. 3G models, handpicked our five launch essential games, and combed different retailers to give you a solid breakdown for this week.

3G vs Wi-Fi – Which is right for you?

It ultimately depends on how much you want to be connected to PlayStation Network. If you mostly use a smartphone for tweeting and keeping up with friends, Wi-Fi may be just fine for you. You can use Wi-Fi hotspots to log into PSN, sync trophies, check Near, and make purchases from the PS Stores.

If you’re more interested in a constant connection to PlayStation Network while you’re at work or riding the bus, that’s where the advantages of 3G come into play. With 3G set up, you can play on PSN and upload game scores and data over the network. It simply provides most of the options that Wi-Fi does, only you’re not tethered to a hotspot—unless, of course, you’re downloading a file that’s more than 20 megabytes.

Keep in mind that unlike a big budget gadget like the iPad, which has a $130 price difference between Wi-Fi and 3G models, it’s a $50 difference between Vita units. However, like the iPad, you’ll need a data plan, which in the US, is exclusively through AT&T, and costs $15 per month for 250 megabytes or $30 per month for 3GB. The cost also includes free AT&T Wi-Fi Hotspot access, so if you’re within range of a Starbucks, you’re covered. After the first 30 days of using 3G service, AT&T will send you a PSN voucher good for a download of Super Stardust Delta.

We got SIM cards for our office Vitas nearly two weeks ago, and we’ve tinkered around with the 3G functionality in public, mostly during morning commutes. From our experience, the 3G usage is rather sparse in nature. We logged into PSN to upload game scores, sync trophies, check Near, and do other bandwidth-light activities. In a little under two weeks, we’ve uploaded 3 megabytes and downloaded around 25 (including a movie trailer, just to test it out).

The 3G feature is nice, but if you live in a densely populated urban area, these features are a perk more than a necessity, at least until we see a second wave of Vita titles that enable 3G in more uses than data uploads. The bonus for city dwellers is a constantly connected experience over 3G that means you won’t have to login at every hotspot to send your scores.

It’s a different story if you’re in the suburbs or in a rural area with less Wi-Fi access. In that case, 3G may work better for you and be worth the monthly cost.


  • MottHoos - February 22, 2012 9:17 p.m.

    The thing I was most unclear on about the Vita launch was system memory. You will need a mem card to get any use out of the system whatsoever. None of the internal memory is available for storage. That means no netflix, twitter, or even saving your games without purchasing a separate card (if you buy the base, $250 wifi model).
  • garnsr - February 22, 2012 9:41 p.m.

    The thing I never see mentioned about the Vita is the ability to get trophies on a handheld. After all this time portable gaming won't have that feeling of being pointless that not getting trophies or achievements always gave me. I'm still not sure there's enough reason for me to get one yet, unfortunately.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 23, 2012 4:48 a.m.

    I'm with you. I'm really looking forward to getting trophies on a handheld. In fact, I'll likely platinum a ton of my vita games (hopefully).
  • ItBurnsWhenIWii - February 22, 2012 11:15 p.m.

    You forgot tales from space. Also uncharted is meh on Vita.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 23, 2012 6:16 a.m.

    I haven't played anything but the first chapter, but meh is my initial impression too, although that could be because I played Uncharted 3 in 3D last weekend and just got used to that. Still good from what I see, but certainly not Naughty Dog.
  • Cyberninja - February 23, 2012 3:37 a.m.

    so what's essential for Vita is 3 ps3 games, 1 psp game and one game i can buy on any recent thing with buttons except ds. i really wish people would stop praising the launch line up of the vita i got mine yesterday for when gravity rush comes out until then i am getting blazblue since that is the only launch game that interests me
  • MasterBhater - February 23, 2012 4:12 a.m.

    These were just Games Radar's preferred games, and only ONE OF THEM IS ON PS3! Just because it's in the same franchise does NOT MEAN IT'S A PORT. It's like saying Super Mario 3D Land is a port of Super Mario Galaxy. IT ISN'T. So quit complaining and listen to the facts.
  • BrunDeign - February 23, 2012 6:31 a.m.

    He's right you know. Golden Abyss is the "worst" (in comparison) of the Uncharted games, so saying that it's a PS3 game is kind of giving it too much credit. This is something that bugs me too. If Sony touted the Vita as capable of giving console-level experiences. Why aren't more people taking the piss out of Golden Abyss for not being of console Uncharted level quality?
  • Cyberninja - February 23, 2012 3:17 p.m.

    dude I never used the word port did I? no I didnt I said uncharted, SSD, and wipeout were ps3 games which is true, I said lumines was a psp game which is also true, and I said rayman origins is on every console and handheld except ds. which one of them are you refering to being on ps3 since it does have uncharacted, rayman, wipeout with cross play and SSD with cross play in the future? i may be complaining but i still listened to the facts, just because you read something as me saying it has ports doesnt mean that is what i said.
  • BrunDeign - February 23, 2012 6:35 a.m.

    Question: Why is Golden Abyss 50 freaking dollars and no one is batting an eye, but people were so angry when Capcom wanted RE:Revalaitons to be 50 dollars because they were putting more into it than other games? Hell Capcom actually lowered their price and they're a third party! This is a first party publisher saying "We're going to go above and beyond the average price of the games on OUR OWN CONSOLE. Surely we will sell more of this game that way."
  • Fuzunga - February 23, 2012 9:35 a.m.

    Because it's Uncharted.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - February 23, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    Because the game size is bigger, and they needed a bigger capacity flash stick for it.
  • NanoElite666 - February 23, 2012 10:17 a.m.

    Wipeout Pure was a PSP launch title, not Pulse.
  • smcgarvey - February 23, 2012 11:40 a.m.

    Noted, updated, corrected. :)
  • iHateFatPeople - February 23, 2012 1:39 p.m.

    Officially the worst marketing campaign for a new system launch ever. The messaging for this thing is as clear as a brick wall. Here's the real buyer's guide: 'Don't buy it'.
  • rainn'sgaydar - February 23, 2012 4:29 p.m.

    Anybody want to add me on PSN? I have about 1 dedicated gaming acquaintance and could use some company. fultz7 Figured I'd search here and maybe a few other future comment threads since the forums have perished.
  • spideralex90 - February 23, 2012 11:15 p.m.

    My problem is the essential games. I'm only interested in wipeout, and that's not enough to make me drop $300. I really want a vita, but I'm waiting for better games. (I don't care for Uncharted.)
  • FayKatriona - February 24, 2012 7:38 p.m.

    I'm up to Chapter 4 in Uncharted: Golden Abyss and I would say that the thing that irks me the most is the female character that they have along for the ride. Elena and Chloe could easily hold their own, but this new chick (I can't even remember her name right now) continuously needs to be saved. I hope she gets better as the game progresses. As for memory cards, I got the early edition and picked up a starter kit, so I have 2 4gb sticks right now. I will be sticking to retail game cards for the foreseeable future, due to the download games being roughly 1gb in size. If you're planning on buying your games via download, bite the bullet and buy the 32gb stick.

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