Note: [All opinions expressed herein are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of GamerXChange]
I like my PlayStation Vita. I guess you could even say, I love my PlayStation Vita. It has been a long time since I have seen a system do so many things the right way at launch. The Vita’s hardware is great, the launch library is vast, and support for the system seems to be never-ending from the industry. Scouring the internet, you probably have come across a slew of positive reviews for the handheld. However, even with all of the positive aspects of the new handheld, there are a few things that if changed or added, I think could make the Vita an even better machine.
Software Changes With Current Hardware
The Vita’s hardware is great as it is. Any changes I would make to the hardware itself are few, so let us focus on user interface and software changes first.
One of the few complaints I hear the most about the Vita itself is the way it connects to the PlayStation Network. If you have a Vita, then you will know, you must go through a little process of connecting to the PSN each time you open a new app that uses online features. I’m no expert on why this is or how it works, however I assume that it is possible to have an ongoing and constant connection to the network as long as the device is on or you opt to disconnect. Now, I do realize that there is some sort of ongoing connection which is why we are able to have party chats and some automatic updates. However, we are still required to log in when we open up a new app. So the first software/OS change I suggest is a constant PSN connection or the removal of that log-in screen, still allowing you to seamlessly switch between games and apps.
Another item that seems a little strange is having to close games and some apps when opening the web browser. This one is a little confusing. Let us say you are playing Uncharted: Golden Abyss and want to switch over quickly to the browser while the game is still running. You can not do that. However, let’s say you open the Twitter app while Uncharted: Golden Abyss is still running instead of the browser. You can do this. Now while you are using your Twitter app, you see a tweet with a link to a webpage. You click on it. Still, with Uncharted open you can access your browser straight from Twitter. It’s a confusing function that I’m sure can be enabled with most apps and games. So the second suggestion is: Allow us to be able to open the browser without closing other apps and games unnecessarily.
The next item on my list of suggestions on how to improve the UI and OS on the Vita comes down to one simple word: Organization. If you are an avid gamer and have played a lot of games on your Vita, if you download a lot of items, you have probably noticed your screen can get a bit cluttered and unorganized. The XMB is gone, now all we have are app icons. Every game you play installs save data and that in turn leaves an icon on your screen. The same goes for apps. I’m already at 8 pages of icons. I try my best to organize them, Vita cartridge games first, PSN downloads next, PSP games, PSN apps, social apps, and so on. Still, it is not as organized as I would like it to be. This type of setup might work for some users, I on the other hand have a little bit of an OCD when it comes to organization and how things look. For me, an alternative option with folders and categories that will allow me to sort all my games and apps will be a welcomed addition to the Vita. Even the return of an XMB if it comes to that would work just fine with me. So that would be my third suggestion: More options for organization.
One of the other functions that seems a little strange to have disabled is allowing the Vita to charge with just USB while on or on standby. If you unplug your Vita’s USB cable from an AC adaptor, or car charger, plug it into your PS3, PC, or other device with USB ports, your Vita will not charge while it is on or on standby. You have to turn off your Vita for it to charge with just the USB cable. I would assume, as long as power is flowing through, you can charge it this way. In fact that is how I charge my phone every day. I hook it up to my laptop and boom, full charge. I have seen a few people mention this on Sony and other gaming forums, so this might be something to look into with future firmware updates.
So those are just a few of the UI/OS improvements I would suggest for the Vita to be better than it already is. Now on to the inevitable future hardware changes.
There’s no doubt in my mind and I’m sure there is no doubt in yours – Somewhere down the line, a new PlayStation Vita will be announced. No, not a Vita 2 or successor to the current, just a hardware upgrade or newer model. We have seen it with every other Sony gaming system – The PlayStation to the PSOne; PlayStation 2 to the PS2 Slim; PSP Original, 2000, 3000, Go; PS3 well….. How many large and slim models have we seen of that? I lost count. The fact is, hardware changes come and the Vita will not be an exception to that rule. So here are a few things I would change hardware-wise come the next Vita model.
3G is oh so 2010! The concept is cool – Have a network connection wherever you go on your handheld gaming device. Still, for online play your use of the 3G is very limited. 4G is the way of the future! By the time a new Vita is released, chances are 4G networks will have a wider coverage area around the world. Still, for those smaller towns that are just getting 3G, 4G technology can still access those networks. 4G will allow you to not just use networks in a limited way such as social apps, the browser, and limited PSN connectivity, but it will allow you to have full online access with those faster speeds including being able to play full multiplayer sessions on the go for those who choose to opt in for the service. So, one of the first upgrades I would make: Faster mobile network connection technology such as 4G (or if something faster is out by the time of the next Vita upgrade, that technology).
Another addition to the Vita (that might defeat the whole purpose of a mobile device) that I think would be nice to have is an audio/video out port. The PSP had it, I don’t see a reason why the Vita can not. It’s a useful function at times. Maybe you want to hook up a PS Vita exclusive game to the big screen and play it that way, play your video or music downloads, share pictures with friends and family, etc. An audio and video output option could be useful. While it’s not a function that I would deem high priority, it would be welcome for many people as it is another highly requested option across early adopters of the Vita. Second hardware change: Audio/Video Out.
Now for audiophiles like myself, something that was a slight drawback for my Vita was the quality of sound coming from the speakers. To put it simply: They’re not the best. Usually when playing, I either have to connect the Vita to my stereo via its headset jack or use headphones/ear buds to listen to the sound coming from the system. The speakers alone are a little unimpressive, especially when listening to music and playing movies or TV shows. Good speaker sound quality is hard to come by on mobile devices but it’s not impossible. So the third hardware improvement I would suggest: Improved speakers and sound quality.
Another slight drawback I had with the Vita is probably because I’m a freak of nature. My hands are large. With that said, the buttons on the Vita are a bit smaller than I would have liked. I feel that larger buttons and an actual D-Pad such as we have present on the PSP or even a Dualshock controller would be an improvement over the current buttons that are on the launch system. They function well in regards their response time and I understand that a large focus of the system is its touch screen. Still, I’m suggesting this: Add larger buttons and better d-pad with the eventual newer models.
The next hardware change I would make is with the cameras. Considering the standard of mobile cameras on smart phones and other new devices are pretty high quality, the Vita comes at the bottom of the list when you examine the two cameras. While unnecessary, a higher resolution camera (it doesn’t even have to be both) would be a welcomed addition to the system. So simply put, this suggestion: Improved Camera Quality.
It also goes without saying, internal memory/storage would be a plus. This whole required memory card deal is a bit of a downer. Internal storage is pretty much standard on any digital device today mobile or stationary. It’s one of the biggest complaints that people have had with the Vita – no internal storage and required proprietary memory cards that are not exactly cheap. So hopefully come the next round, there will be internal storage with a slot for expandable memory if needed.
Last but not least with hardware improvement suggestions come where a lot of people have been complaining, battery life. I myself find the battery life on the Vita to be adequate. You can get a good 5 hours of straight gaming time out of the Vita. I do not play the Vita for hours and hours without end. Still, I do acknowledge that the battery life could be improved. If there is a way to accomplish this while still keeping the Vita’s other functions intact, I say, “Go for it!” So the last suggestion for hardware improvements: Better battery life.
So there are the hardware and UI/OS changes I would personally suggest. Still, there are more things that can be done to not only improve the system itself now but bring more people to the handheld.
Added Features and Apps
The Vita is still a very new system, so to expect hundreds of games, apps, and features to be available right now is unreasonable. However, hopefully with time we will see more of these stream to the device. A few features I would like to see added to the Vita are listed below.
I have the Vita cradle/dock. One night while I was looking at the Vita on the dock beside my bed on the nightstand, a thought came to my mind. There is this huge display that shows the clock when the screen is locked or the device is on standby. Why not add an alarm clock application to the system as well? Sure, most people use their phones or actual alarm clocks but this would give people more reasons to actually use a Vita more. The PS store could offer a slew of alarm clock themes, sounds, and displays from gaming or general geek culture. I for one would use it. So there’s an option that I would like to see: An Alarm Clock
Unfortunately, this next suggestion may not happen due to the not so successful run on the PSP. Still, I would like a comic app to be added to the Vita. The touch screen and touch pad at the back of the device make it perfect for turning pages and the HQ OLED is perfect for displaying the vivid illustrations you can find in these graphic novels. I have a feeling a comic book app would fare better on the Vita than the one on the PSP did. In addition, not limiting the comics to those from the PSN store but allowing other publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and DC (to name a few) to either have their own apps or more control over content would be a plus. So cross your fingers! This is an app I would like to see: Comic Book App
Along those same lines, E-Readers have become ever popular in this new digital age. While Sony no doubt does not want to take the focus off of the Vita being a dedicated gaming handheld, a few extra options never hurt a device. The more appeal it has to a wider demographic, the better. An e-reader app of sorts would be a great addition, I feel, to the Vita.
Now shifting more to the functions, most mobile devices today have an option for automatic updates. An option for automatic updates would be good especially for games and apps that we may not use as frequently as others. A few times, I have put in a game after a little break from playing it and then I have to wait for it to finish updating before playing. This is something we see on the PS3 and 360 a bit. On the plus side, the Vita does allow you to download these updates in the background and you can use other games and apps while that is happening. Yet, an automatic update option would cut all of that out. If my phone does it, my computer does it, I don’t see why my Vita can not. Heck even my PS3 does it – which brings us to the next feature I would like to see enabled on the Vita.
Full PS Plus support is something a lot of gamers have been asking for on the Vita. Currently you can get a few games at the PS+ discount on the Vita’s PSN store. Still, PS+ works in a very, very, limited fashion on the Vita. In fact, SCE representatives have been quoted, mentioning that the service is mainly geared towards the PS3. But I was thinking to myself, I have PS Plus. Not PS3 Plus. The service is essentially supposed to be a premium PSN. Well, the PSN is integrated on my Vita, I think I should be able to benefit from PS+ with it as well. This includes the free games, automatic updates, and discounts throughout. Hopefully we will hear more about PS+ Vita integration in the near future.
In conclusion, I think we have a bit to look forward to in the Vita’s future. There are a lot of new additions that can be added to the system, a few improvements with the system’s hardware and OS, and more. I think it goes without saying , we will see a lot of changes, whether they include the ones I mentioned or not, we will see in time. The device has massive support from the tech and gaming industry so it’s only a matter of time before those possibilities are fully explored.
There are a lot of other things that could make the Vita more appealing, mainly games. Hopefully the library will grow with not only big titles but also those smaller ones that are perfect for a mobile gaming experience. You know, those games you find yourself tapping away at for hours on your Droid or iPhone. Simple games like mobile MMOs, puzzlers, and other social items. You know the ones out there. They would all be great additions to the Vita. In addition, everyone really wants that full PS3 games remote play option to be enabled. New music, video, and social services as well would all be great to see. With the PlayStation Suite SDK now in beta and later being made available worldwide later this year, it’s only a matter of time before we see some great things coming the way of the Vita and other PlayStation certified devices.
So those were just some of my suggestions for improving the Vita. What do you guys think? Sound off in the comments below! What type of changes or additions would you like to see made on the Vita? Discuss!