ps vita unlock

We'll be honest with you, while the PS Vita's brand new touchscreen interface is well laid out and very easy to use, we think it looks just a tiny bit naff.

The layout includes a number of homescreens stacked one on top of the other, with all the different options represented by circular icons. Each icon denotes an app, which can be either a game, the settings menu or a Twitter client, for example.

ps vita menu

It's intuitively designed, and you can tell Sony has been very careful to differentiate it from any of the other mobile OS' out there - you're unlikely to find sue-a-holics Apple or Samsung litigating against Sony on this one. But we still don't think it looks quite fitting for such a mean-looking, monster of a console.

It's very twee, and in that respect it's quintessentially Japanese, so that's why we won't waste anymore time moaning about it.

Menu system

As with the Sony PS3, you can quit from any game or app using the PS button. This will pause the app you were in, and to close it you peel the app off the screen from the top right corner. It's a satisfying way to close games.

closing games

The PS Store allows you to download games direct to the console provided you've bought some storage. These titles range from full-blown Vita monoliths, to older PSP games, right down to cheap-as-chips sub £1 PSP Minis.

The other basic apps pre-loaded are 'Friends' which lists your SEN friends, and 'Party' which is a cross-game chat system that lets you communicate with said friends on your aforementioned SEN friends list. There's 'Near' which allows you to find fellow gamers in your vicinity and see what they're playing, 'Photos' which allows you to take pictures and video using the albeit mediocre 0.3MP cameras and 'Browser' which enables you to clunkily browse the web.

ps vita facebook

This is one area that does need serious work. There's currently no support for Flash or HTML5 with the machine only getting friendly with the bare minimum of Javascript and cookies. There are serious and basic functionality issues eitherway, however.

There's no ability to re-orientate the screen, leaving you with a letterbox view that only loads what is visible. Attempts to scroll through sites simply reveals a blank screen as you wait for the Vita to catch up. It's not what we've come to expect from Sony, frankly and we were expecting it to be patched out before the UK launch. But as of firmware version 1.61, the bugs remain.

Remote play

There's also a remote play feature, which allows you to use the Vita to take control of your PS3. In theory this means you can play PS3 games on the PS Vita over a network. Some titles work already though many don't, and Sony is keeping its cards close to its chest about how functional the Remote Play feature will be moving forward.

Media

These are the supported media formats. The Vita focuses on the more commonly used ones but it's worth bearing in mind that PS3 added extra formats to it's original line up though post release firmware updates

Music: MP3 MPEG-1/2 Audio Layer 3, MPEG-4 AAC, WAVE (Linear PCM)

Video: MPEG-4 Simple Profile (AAC), H.264/MPEG-4 AVC Hi/Main/Baseline Profile (AAC)

Photo: JPEG (Exif 2.2.1), TIFF, BMP, GIF, PNG

Battery life

It's hard to know how to judge the Vita's battery life. We're not going to lie to you - it's not great.

The iPad 2 might troop on for up to 10 hours, but you'll be hard pressed to squeeze as much as 5 out of the PS Vita. And that's with screen brightness turned right down and wi-fi turned off etc.

In real-world conditions, battery life during constant gaming is something more like 4 hours which will be plenty for anyone with regular access to a power socket - and the Vita does at least charge up extremely quickly (it also has a fantastic sleep mode, so if you turn the screen off and leave it, it will consume almost no power at all even if you pause mid-game - we left FIFA Football in standby for a whole week and returned to find only one percentage point missing from the battery).

FIFA football

But for anyone hoping to mong-out with the Vita on a long trans-Atlantic flight, you'd better hope your plane provides power at your seat. Business class travellers might be in luck there, but for the rest of us there is one other alternative which is to buy a portable USB charger.

You'll need to get one that provides enough whack to get the Vita's cogs turning though as it's a hungry animal and won't even charge from a standard computer USB port.

The battery cannot be removed or replaced either, so don't be thinking you can keep a spare in your bag - that's out of the question.

The charger itself consists of three parts, the wall socket and power lead, a small transformer and a proprietary USB 2.0 lead.

Would it have been too much to ask for Sony to have chosen a non-proprietary lead? A replacement costs a ridiculous £8.99, so keep each piece safe.