With Sony’s PlayStation Vita handheld console set for release in the United Kingdom and North America later this month, the picture of what we can expect is becoming clearer.
The Vita will start at $249 in the United States for the wireless-only model, and $299 for the 3G version, according to the PlayStation website. But Vodafone, the Vita’s exclusive 3G carrier in the UK, recently announced that 3G version will sell for £279 there, or about $440. The wireless-only version will go for £218.99, according to multiple reports, or about $350.
Gaming blog Kotaku, meanwhile, reported on Tuesday that North American Vita users will not be able to take advantage of Sony’s UMD Passport program, which allows gamers to transfer their PSP titles to the Vita.
When Sony released the Vita in Japan in December, buyers there were able to register their PSP disc games on their PlayStation Network accounts then download them to the Vita for a small fee. Vita users in North America will still be able to play the PSP games that they bought digitally rather than in disc form.
Sony announced a firmware update for Vita owners in Japan this week, although it’s unclear whether or not the upgrades will be immediately available for buyers in North America and the U.K.
The update will add a new maps feature to the console and introduce video recording to the device, which was previously only able to take still photos.
When the Vita made its worldwide launch in Japan in December, Sony sold more than a quarter-million units in its first two days on the market. That failed to match the debut numbers of the relatively similar Nintendo DS several months prior though, and analysts considered it to be a middling debut for the Vita.
Mashable got a hands-on preview of the Vita in December, and came away impressed by its intuitive touch interface, augmented reality capabilities and excellent graphics. But the console didn’t appear to be a must-buy for casual gamers, as mobile gaming on smartphones has progressed rapidly in the past couple years and in-home consoles still provide a superior experience overall.
For serious gamers, the Vita did seem like a potentially great purchase. Are you planning to buy a PlayStation Vita? Let us know in the comments.