Gaming Hype

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Vita’s Battery Life isn’t Great, Memory Cards are Pricey

With the PlayStation Vita’s release date set as December 17 in Japan, Sony has issued a press release detailing many of the system’s features, accessories, and other noteworthy tidbits. Battery life in particular has caused somewhat of an outcry, although the fairly low figures were to be expected.

The release estimates approximate gaming time on Vita to be between 3 and 5 hours; watching videos will get you about 5 hours; and listening to music in standby mode will go for about 9 hours. It’s important to note these figures are based on the screen brightness being at the default setting with headphones plugged in and Bluetooth off. The game-playing figure is for when you’re not playing online; 3G or Wi-Fi usage could drag any of these figures down even further.

Fortunately, it’s estimated that it will only take 2 hours and 40 minutes to fully charge from an empty battery with an AC adapter. I say “fortunately” because that’s almost an hour better than the 3DS, which takes about 3 hours and 30 minutes to fully charge. That system is often criticized for its battery; it, too, provides only about 3-5 hours of gameplay. There have been third-party solutions, but Nintendo attempted to mitigate the problem by including a charging cradle — something you’ll have to pay extra for with Vita.

The Vita battery life news shouldn’t come as any sort of shock. Back in January, when the system was still called the NGP, we asked Sony’s head of Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida about the subject of battery life. He answered, “It’ll be about the same as the original PSP.” In other words: You won’t be playing games for more than a few hours without a charge.

What some will definitely find upsetting about the contents of the Sony press release is the pricing of its proprietary memory cards. Internal storage seems to have been sacrificed in order to keep the system’s price as low as it is, making the memory cards more necessary. There are four different memory card sizes planned for release in Japan on December 17 alongside the system: 4GB (2,200 yen, about $29), 8GB (3,200 yen, $42), 16GB (5,500 yen, $72), and 32GB (9,500 yen, $124). Those seem incredibly expensive, and it immediately makes the prospect of using the system for all digital games — Sony has said more than once that all Vita games will be downloadable — much less attractive.

“Some PS Vita software titles may require the use of separately sold memory card for saving game’s saved data while some software titles are capable of saving it on to the PS Vita card itself,” a section of the release notes. “Please refer to the PS Vita game packages or game manuals for further details.”

While one would expect third-party accessory makers will release their own memory cards at more competitive prices than what Sony has on offer, some people might be hesitant to trust their save data to an unofficial memory card.

The 3DS doesn’t rely as heavily on downloadable games as Vita (which has access to hundreds of PSP games available on the PlayStation Store, in addition to Vita content), yet it uses the more inexpensive option in SD cards, and it comes with a 2GB card with the system. A SanDisk 32GB SD card can be had for less than $45 on Amazon right now; the $124 you’d spend on an equivalent Vita memory card could get you a 64GB SD card.

You can check out the list of upcoming accessories and prices for yourself here. Those on there include the aforementioned charging cradle (2,800 yen, $36), a USB cable (1,300 yen, $17; one comes with the system), a protective film (800 yen, $10), a case (1,800 yen, $23), and more. Both a car adapter and portable charger are planned for release next spring, though neither has a price assigned to it yet.



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