Sony Playstation is billing its new Vita handheld console as the ultimate portable gaming experience. But are the days of dedicated gaming handhelds over, killed off by the Apple dominated smartphone gaming market?

PSVita Icons on home screens

Sony has been in the portable gaming market through its PlayStation Portable handheld (PSP) since way back in 2004. But it’s been an uphill battle for the once superior electronics company, firstly being bludgeoned by the increasing popularity of the Nintendo DS series of handhelds and then taking another whack from the onslaught of high quality and exceptionally affordable smartphone games.

So what does the PS Vita bring to gamers and why should they invest their money in a portable console brand which has seen better days? Controls, dedicated hardware and a good size portable gaming screen. With a screen bigger than the iPhone, and dedicated controls any Playstation user would find second nature – the PSVita is still the PlayStation you can stick in your pocket and play like you do your PS3 at home. No smartphone can beat the comfort, especially for avid gamers.

As with any new console launch, the challenge will be games. This is what put Nintendo’s DSi in such a great position (and why the 3DS struggled at launch). Sony needs to act fast with a lot of quality games, from big-name franchises and exclusive new IP. The PS3 has made its success off the back of some great exclusive series, like Uncharted, Killzone and God of War. It needs to keep this momentum going on the portable front. But also it needs to expand – the younger generation is eager to use the portable console that has typically been earmarked for adults. Nintendo knows this strategy works, putting plenty of effort into marketing for a younger market.

The Vita comes with an OLED touch screen, rear touch pad, dual analogue control sticks, motion sensors, dual cameras and more than 80 games to play. On paper it looks fantastic, but whether it will thrive, or die a slow and painful death like the Sony PSP Go is going to be interesting to watch.

PSVita with Golf

Sony itself is releasing the following titles at launch:

  • Uncharted: Golden Abyss
  • WipEout 2048
  • Reality Fighters
  • Little Deviants
  • ModNation Racers: Road Trip
  • Everybody’s Golf
  • Escape Plan
  • Top Darts
  • Hustlee Kings
  • MotorStorm RC

The Playstation Vita will set you back $349.95 for the WiFi only model and $419.95 for the WiFi with 3G.

Will you be getting one?