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PlayStation Vita Handbook

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PlayStation Vita User Interface Home Presenting Vita’s home screen, It’s all floaty circular icons, with a nice 3D wave animation in the background, similar to the PS3. On the side of the screen you can see three dots, representing three pages of icons (if you’ve spent any time with an iOS device, you know the drill). Up top there’s a 3G signal bar, a clock and a battery monitor. The icon in the middle reminds you that you’re on the home screen – when you have more applications open, these will also display next to the home icon, and a quick swipe left and right flicks between open apps. The top-right corner plays host to a notification counter, including received messages, party invitations or friend requests.

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PlayStation Vita User Interface LiveArea Clicking any icon on the home screen will take you into the LiveArea for that game or app – here we’re looking at the WipEout 2048 LiveArea, there’s also of a screen of Uncharted: Golden Abyss’ and the PlayStation Store’s in the gallery. As you can see, this is more than just a ‘are you sure you want to launch that game?’ dialog, instead presenting quick shortcuts to the leaderboards, your player profile, something called the “AG Museum” (presumably a supporting app), and a link to the PlayStation Store to grab DLC (the Fury DLC in the picture is actually for WipEout HD on PS3, and so is likely a placeholder). Uncharted’s LiveArea shows various stats both from your own game progress, and the online community, with a link to the Black Market trading part of that game. The PlayStation Store’s LiveArea just shows featured content at this time.

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On LiveArea, there are also three quick links at the top of the panel. The first is to the game’s digital manual – remember, all Vita games will be available on the Store, with only some of those at retail in card form – the second is an internet search for the game, and the third icon isn’t quite clear. It could either manually refresh the LiveArea, or enable you to update the game/app without having to actually launch the game – if you can queue these, that’d be a very useful feature.

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PlayStation Store Speaking of the PlayStation Store, here it is a tab to switch between the game and video stores along the top – looks like the comic store won’t be returning for Vita’s launch – and a search function. Further down, it looks like Sony has taken more than a little inspiration from Apple’s iOS stores: there are three featured ads, and then a view that can flick between the latest releases, the best sellers, and ‘All Games’. The product pages themselves are much the same, with artwork and product details. The rating system from the existing Store has also made it over. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that Sony are making any kind of preview option compulsory on Vita games, whether it be a trailer or even a set of screenshots like you get on most mobile platforms, at least it’s not in this build of the software. It’s worth mentioning the little button with three dots in the bottom-right of the screen; that’s the options button, and shows up throughout the Vita UI.

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PlayStation Network Your existing PlayStation Network account will transfer straight over to your Vita. Straight from the profile page, you can see what your friend is playing and join them, or view their recent activity, whether that’s trophy unlocks or in-game progress. You can also go right into a chat. Group chats can be either text- or voice-based, and messages can also contain attachments – in this conversation, the first message is an invite to a LBP level, with the second reply containing a screenshot. As you can see in the top-right, you can manually refresh conversations should you go out of WiFi or 3G range.

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PlayStation Network With the PSN, must come trophies. Here you can see the trophy list, with a tab on the top-left corner to view all trophies or only those unlocked on Vita. Even if you choose to view all trophies, you can see that games are labelled with which platform they are for – it’s not yet clear how this will work for games where progress can be transferred from PS3 to Vita and vice versa, like Ruin. What’s also not yet clear is if Vita games will have platinum trophies; it seems likely that it would work the same way as on PS3, with only the larger titles having the holy grail trophy.

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PlayStation Vita - Media Sony has show off Vita’s media capabilities, you can view photos taken with the camera application (using either the front or back cameras), as well as JPEGs, GIFs, BMPs, PNGs, and TIFF images. The music app is capable of playing MP3’s, unprotected ACC files and WAVs, with MPEG-4 (high, main, baseline and simple profile) videos also compatible. Interestingly, there’s no sign of the WMA and WMV support in the PS3 and PSP – whether that’s because it has yet to be implemented, won’t be present, or will be added later in a firmware update is unknown. We also don’t yet know how to get media actually onto Vita, presumably through Media Go or some future replacement application, although there is a ‘Content Manager’ app on Vita itself for on-device management.

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PlayStation Vita - Apps Party is effectively an upgraded group chat application. You can set up any number of ‘rooms’ and flick between them, in which you can text and voice chat, as well as view who’s playing what, or jump into multiplayer games together. The best bit? Party runs in the background at the same time as games, so we finally have real in-game voice chat. Party rooms can also be favourited, and appear to exist even when empty, ready to be jumped into next time players log online. Near is the halfway point between Vita’s GPS support and games, allowing you to unlock content for games by navigating the real world environment. Near also shows you where your friends are, as well as what other Vita users in the vicinity are playing, should you fancy a tube carriage WipEout faceoff. Note: the GPS chip is only present in the 3G version of Vita Party Near

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PlayStation Vita - Social Apps Sony announced that Vita will also play host to non-gaming apps, and Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Skype will be the first of these (it’s not clear whether these will be available at launch or just after). There doesn’t appear to be any Vita specific functionality except the touch-centric UI, but it’s good to see Sony pushing the non-gaming capabilities of the console.

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PlayStation Vita versions, prices and release date There are going to be two versions of the Playstation Vita released. One with just Wi-Fi and a more expensive version with 3G ($249 for the WiFi only version and $299 for the Wi-Fi/3G version). Online retailer Amazon has seemingly outed the Sony PS Vita release date and price, making the portable games console available for pre-order ahead of a New Year’s Eve arrival. Whilst Amazon has opened up PS Vita pre-orders without a confirmed delivery date the retailer’s US counterpart has suggested the PSP replacement will be available from December 31st. Advantages to buying at Amazon: FREE with Super Saver Shipping Pre-order Price Guarantee BUY NOW >>

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